Vision and Mission: What’s the Difference and Why Do They Matter?

The legendary Peter Drucker stated, “The purpose of business is to create a customer.” The reason vision and mission are important to business and brand strategy is because they are the keystones for creating and keeping customers.

Today’s marketplace demands more than a product or a clever ad line; brands must deliver consistent and authentic customer experiences. A complex net of touchpoints and people combine to create that experience, from pre-purchase, at time of purchase, and on through post-purchase. The best way to ensure great, consistent customer experiences is to unite everyone in your business with a common cause. Vision and mission statements are your power tools to achieve this.

Vision

Vision is a big, aspirationalpicture of the future. It is the North Star that provides focus and direction while allowing for adaptability and flexibility. It is so emotionally compelling that people can see themselves participating in it. Vision answers the question, “Based on our purpose, what statement best creates a vivid picture of where we want to be 10 or 20 years from now?”

Mission

If vision is the big picture of the future, mission is the action you’ll take to get there. Mission is a strategic statement that explains the value you provide. It should be plain and simple language that anyone, customer or employee, can understand and embrace.

Vision is aspirational, while mission is more strategic and tactical. Vision is long term and seldom changes. Mission may adjust as markets change, opportunities change, etc.

Zappos Sets and Lives the Standard

Zappos states their mission with elegant clarity:

  • One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online.
  • People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection.
  • Zappos.com will be that online store.

Currently online sales are about 7% of all retail transactions but Zappos leaves no doubt in my mind of what the future will look like. Zappos does not formally define a mission statement, but on the same page as the vision statement above, they have a statement that could well serve as their mission:

“Regardless of our structure, our goal is to position Zappos as the online service leader.”

Zappos is the poster child for building a culture that lives by their vision and mission. It’s no coincidence that they have an enviable track record for creating and keeping customers.

NASA States It Simply

The NASA example below demonstrates a logical transition from the aspirational vision to the more strategic and executional mission statement:

NASA’s Vision

To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

The NASA Mission

Drive advances in science, technology, and exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of the Earth.

The Bottom Line

Whether your company is a sole proprietorship or a giant organization, defining and living your vision and mission are your most important tools to create and retain customers. It’s the secret weapon to elevate your business above your competitors and create healthy long term growth.

Does your business live the vision and mission, or are they just empty statements to be dusted off once a year at an annual planning meeting? Contact Mamie Patton to turn empty statements into powerful business building tools and begin acquiring – and keeping – more customers.

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