Why These Great Startups Are Winning at Mission Statements
Let’s get right down to it: the key to inspiring customer loyalty is not through your products or services but through what you stand for.
Although most markets are oversaturated, brands that strive to make a positive impact on the world can rise above the noise and create a raving fan base.
Companies like Warby Parker, Patagonia, and IKEA have certainly set the benchmark. In fact, with a quick google search for “best mission statements,” you can find these companies at the top of almost every list.
Creating a mission statement is no easy task. While most companies end up with messaging that’s generic and operations-focused, the companies that succeed are the ones who focus on the people (or customers) and infuse their mission with emotion, authenticity, and purpose.
In this article, we’ll share what a mission statement is and break down these 4 great mission statements from successful startups to examine why and how they work, so you can explore the possibilities for your own.
First, what’s a mission statement?
A mission statement is an action-oriented statement that describes your company’s fundamental purpose: what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it.
Often, it includes a description of the organization and its function, but a good mission statement is more than just desiring to be the best in your field or making the best product.
The best brands demonstrate a strong responsibility and devotion to their community, and their mission statement reflects that.
What should a mission statement accomplish?
According to Donald Miller, founder of StoryBrand, to be most effective, your mission statement should do a few things:
- Create alignment and unity
- Increase engagement
- Motivate your team to achieve a goal
- Help recruit top talent
- Cast a clear vision
As you can see, it’s important to speak both to your audience and your team. Words have the power to energize and fuel your company, and when everyone feels mobilized to solve a problem, you can increase overall profitability and success for your business.
It seems like a tall order to speak to each of those points, but if your mission statement is interesting and memorable, it can be three pages long! As long as your team and audience can remember the gist of your mission statement, they’ll unite around your goal.
Of course, simpler is always better, so if you can boil down your purpose to a few words or two to three sentences, you’ve got a winner.
Now, let’s see some mission statements in action.
Winning Mission Statement Examples from Real Startups
Bench: Our mission is to bring financial mastery to a million people, starting with small business owners.
The very clear goal is what makes Bench’s mission statement so strong. The people inside the organization can wake up every day, knowing exactly how to focus their attention and energy to move the company forward.
Plus, the language is simple and concise - there’s no industry jargon here. You could state this mission to a customer, employee, or investor, and they’ll all nod their head and say, “Yeah, we get what you’re doing here.”
Also, notice how on their website, Bench expands on their objective to tell the full story of their mission. First, they present their customer’s problem (people should have full control of their finances). Then, they offer their solution (bring financial mastery to a million people, starting with small business owners). Finally, they present the desired outcome (people have the tools to stay on top of their finances and improve their lives).
It’s a compelling story that draws you in and makes it easy to see the direction Bench wants to go.
Better Mortgage Corporation: We’re making homeownership simpler, faster - and most importantly, more accessible for all Americans.
Better Mortgage Corporation’s mission statement starts with a simple line but dreams big. They could have focused on exceptional customer service or developing mutual trust, but it’s instead to make homeownership “more accessible for all Americans” (in other words, people-focused).
Using words like “simpler, faster” speaks to an audience who’s tired of the complicated, stressful mortgage process (and who isn’t?).
We love how they drive that pain point home (the system is set up to benefit the insiders - not you). The brand states, “Step-by-step, we’re taking apart the old infrastructure and replacing it with thoughtful technology and a Better experience.”
Their mission statement is a fresh take on a service that’s been around since the 1930s and inspires the possibility of change.
Cake: Our goal is to empower people to live in accordance with their values all the way to the end.
We love how Cake aligns their mission with their customers’ values, not their own (to empower people to live in accordance with their values). It’s a people-focused statement that lets us know the company is all about making the end of life easier.
We especially appreciate the emphasis on empowering people, which positions the customer as the hero and Cake as the guide to help them achieve their goal. The longer-form version also positions how this goal will be achieved (if we share our preferences with our loved ones), which gives customers and Cake’s team clear direction on what they need to do to make an impact on the end of life experience.
Speaking of clear, Cake uses language that lets their values shine through. Talking about the end of life can be challenging and stark, but Cake makes it meaningful and life-giving.
The use of storytelling is a powerful technique in copywriting and brand messaging.
Think about when you’re watching a movie or reading a book, everything else in your brain is turned off for a bit, and you’re focused on just that story. So, we use stories to tell brand messages in a way that captures a customer’s attention and keeps it.
Let’s break their story down…
Problem: The ag community should be united and empowered by data, not confused by it.
Solution: We develop software that’s fast, easy-to-use, and drives a sustainable, profitable future.
Outcome: Agronomists, retailers, and farmers can make better decisions with their seed, fertilizer, chemicals, and capital.
The statement naturally flows in their sales conversations, and everyone in their target audience - from the family farmer to the venture capitalist - can understand the company’s end goal.
Finally, the mission statement is specific, memorable, and relatable.
Tips for writing a mission statement for your startup
There are many different ways to write a mission statement, but here are a few key tips to get started:
- Start with your brand story. You don’t have to include the story in your mission statement, but it helps you define your customer and how you’re different. Identify the three parts: the problem your customers are having, the unique solution you offer, and what the world could look like if your company is successful.
- Define your company’s purpose. What good do you do for the world? What do you stand for? This is a very crucial part of your statement, so you’ll want to spend time with your team to get it right.
- Write 15-25 different versions. You’ve got to write some bad mission statements before you start thinking outside the box. Not every statement will be perfect - most will be generic or lifeless, but with practice, you’ll craft a winner.
- Talk like a human. Write a mission statement that reads like you’re having a conversation. People respond best to messages that are clear and conversational.
- Test, test, test. Get feedback from your team, investors, customers, and friends. Remember, good mission statements unite people, motivate your team, and inspire possibilities. If people are scratching their heads, your mission statement probably needs to be reworked.
Success starts with a purpose
Great mission statements have the power to compel people to attention, inspire possibilities, and call your team to action.
But, to do it right, rather than self-promoting, you’ve got to shift your focus on the people.
Of course, we understand that like most startups, who you are today might not be who you are tomorrow, and that’s okay! As your company grows and its goals and objectives change, you can revise your mission statement to reflect your new work culture.