Published in For Teams

Purpose or mission statement — which one should you create?

6 min read

Your brand exists because your unique offering enables you to thrive in a crowded marketplace. You provide something others don’t, and your customers love you for it.

To attract more clients, you can publicly express this differentiator with purpose and mission statements. And brainstorming both of these items will also help you align your team toward common goals.

What’s a purpose statement?

A purpose statement clearly articulates why your company exists. This goes beyond your organization’s “what” (your offering) and “how” (how you offer it), instead addressing the “why” — the underlying intention that drives your actions.

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A well-crafted purpose statement often leads off a grander mission statement, and companies typically use it to foster a sense of pride, loyalty, and employee engagement, where everyone understands why they’re doing what they’re doing. You can also use this statement to communicate your organization’s higher purpose to prospects and stakeholders. 

Example: An example of a purpose statement for a financial advisory firm could be, “Help people enjoy life without worrying about the future." This reflects the organization's core belief in the value of helping individuals achieve financial security and peace of mind.

What’s a mission statement?

While your purpose statement represents your “why,” a mission statement defines the “what” and “how.” It often builds upon your purpose statement to create an action-oriented, strategic roadmap that provides direction for your company about what it aims to achieve, especially regarding specific objectives and business goals.

A great mission statement communicates the key activities, markets, and customers your organization serves, and might also define the competitive advantage and value proposition that set you apart.

Example: A mission statement for a financial advisory firm could be, “Provide various financial advice plans for different ages, industries, and future goals.” This illustrates the firm’s approach to tailoring financial advice based on individual needs and circumstances.

5 elements of a mission statement

A well-written mission statement is a powerful document that guides your company by outlining its purpose, values, and goals.Here are five essential components of a mission statement:

1. Purpose

What and how you function stems from your “why,” so begin this document with your purpose statement (why do you exist right now, why was this company started?). This overview should align with your company's core values. For example, part of Patagonia’s purpose is to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. This focuses on their purpose while also expressing their overarching ecological values.

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2. What your company does

Provide a concise description of your company’s products or services and the markets it serves. Convey your company's main areas of operation or expertise, giving a clear understanding of your business activities. This helps establish the company's identity and sets the stage for communicating its unique value proposition to customers and stakeholders.

3. Legacy

Besides defining its current purpose, a mission statement should also reflect the impact your company hopes to have on its customers, employees, and society as a whole. Discuss the positive contributions you hope to offer the world. This component adds a forward-thinking element to the mission statement and inspires employees to strive for excellence beyond just reaping short-term profits.

4. Values

Including values in the mission statement establishes your company's moral compass and reinforces your commitment to transparency and social responsibility. Ensure that your values accurately reflect your company's ethical standards and align with both your purpose and long-term vision.

5. Unique differentiators

Highlight traits and services that set your company apart, like distinctive capabilities, competitive advantages, and strategic positioning. By clearly stating what makes your company unique, the mission statement helps potential customers and stakeholders differentiate your company from others in the market, so use this section to reinforce your competitive edge. 

Why you need a mission statement

A mission statement is critical to running a successful business since it provides a clear and concise way to communicate your company's purpose and goals — both internally and externally. This statement can:

  • Elaborate on your purpose — after identifying and articulating your company’s core purpose, the rest of your mission statement builds upon this objective to define how your company will deliver on this promise — it transforms your company’s “why” into specific goals and initiatives. In doing so, you can better express your priorities.

  • Set clear goals — once you’ve defined your company's mission, you can break it down into distinct goals and milestones on a company roadmap in order to align your team and make clear to both internal and external stakeholders what you seek to achieve.

  • Communicate your values — while mission statements are action-oriented documents, they don’t just define specific initiatives. By sharing your company strategy, you also impart your company's values and ethics to employees and customers. This helps build trust, loyalty and a strong brand image.

  • Attract top talent — highlighting your company’s values and culture in your mission statement gives potential employees a sense of purpose and direction. For example, a central part of Patagonia's mission statement is "We’re in business to save our home planet." Putting their environmental values front and center means they’re more likely to attract like-minded individuals who are committed to the same mission.

  • Attract clients — just as a strong mission statement can attract like-minded talent, you’ll also attract customers whose values are concurrent with yours.

Share your mission

Once you've crafted your mission statement, it's important to display it prominently so it can serve as a guiding force for your organization and attract potential clients. Here are some common places to share your mission statement:

  • Website — make a good first impression when potential talent or clients visit your home page by displaying your mission statement front and center. You could do this by having a clickable mission-focused slogan that sends visitors to a landing page clearly outlining your mission. 

  • Business cards — while mission statements are usually more than one sentence long, you can put a slogan or sentence that encompasses your mission’s message on business cards so clients and collaborators understand your values and how you plan to achieve them. This helps inform their decision-making process as they enter a business arrangement with you.

  • Marketing materials — just like your website, your marketing materials are a good opportunity to strike the right tone with clients to ensure alignment, so incorporate your mission statement into your marketing materials, like brochures, flyers, and social media profiles. 

  • Employee handbook — a mission statement is a great way to keep employees engaged and aligned with your goals. Display your mission statement in employee guides or on your intranet to build company culture and ensure employees remember the overarching mission as they go about daily tasks.

Mission not impossible

Mission statements share your company’s unique purpose and encourage alignment between yourself and your customers. 

To start, try out Notion’s vision and mission template and house it in a connected workspace. Or check out our other productivity and management tools to streamline your employee onboarding process, help you create a team home page, and set up a business directory.

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