I recently saw a post that said that branding is about creating imagery and language that conveys a set of values to customers. This was interesting to me as I continue to hone in on my company’s values and build my client base. It made me think about the differences between mission, vision, and values, which are all things that motivate a business owner, but have to be made clear to customers, and serve distinct purposes to a brand.
Mission vs. Vision vs. Values
When you’re starting your business, you might be overwhelmed by all the boilerplate company language you have to generate just to make your brand seem “legit.” But there’s an easy way to distinguish what pieces of language you need, what they should say, and how they contribute to your brand voice.
You can knock this three-part brand-building task out with a simple plug-and-play exercise:
Mission = WHAT you do.
Vision = HOW you do it.
Values = WHY you do it!
Let’s break it down…
Mission: WHAT your business does
This might seem like a simple question, and if the answer is easy for you, great! Unfortunately, sometimes boiling your work down to a one-sentence (seriously, one sentence max!) mission statement proves complicated.
An easy branding exercise to generate a first draft of your mission statement is another Mad Libs- style trick. Fill in the blanks here:
[Company Name] help[s] [target audience] to [solve a problem] by/with [how you solve it.]
So, a current iteration of Editing Without Ego’s mission statement might look like this:
Editing Without Ego helps LGBTQ+ and allied founders to tell their story with intuitive content + copywriting.
Try it yourself and see how it goes. When in doubt, make it shorter. Precision is your friend!
Vision: HOW you do WHAT you do
Sometimes vision statements and documents are client-facing, especially when you’re in the business of corporate sustainability or nonprofit and your audience wants you to show maximum accountability.
Other times, these are internal documents that remind you where you want your business to go, how long you want it to take, and how you will accomplish your mission.
Once again, specificity and precision are your friends here. Set attainable, specific goals for your business that represent steps toward the life that you want.
Your vision statement can be a little longer than your mission statement, but it still shouldn’t exceed 2-3 sentences. If you’re a nonprofit focusing on zero-waste lifestyle, for example, your vision might read this way:
Zero Waste Yesterday envisions a world where people live in harmony with nature, not work against it. Our facility will be energy net-positive by 2025, and we will help 25,000 households in the U.S. each year to reduce landfill-bound waste by 40%. We will do this by educating families about affordable, sustainable alternatives to plastic, encouraging composting, and creating personalized home waste-management systems that are good for households and the environment.
The most important part of this example that distinguishes it from a mission statement is the part that begins with, “We will do this by…”. This sentence shows customers, supporters, and newly-onboarded staff that you have a specific plan for accomplishing your lofty goals, which may be stated more concisely in your mission statement.
Values: WHY you do WHAT you do
Finally, and possibly the most difficult to pin down, are the reasons WHY you do the work you do. What made you start your business in the first place? What problem did you see for yourself or people you cared about that you realized you could solve? The answers to these questions will help you define your values.
You may or may not make them client-facing, but you should articulate them, at least for yourself. Often, the values are an undercurrent that you hold onto as a founder to make decisions about the direction of your business. They are also the values that should be shared by your target audience, and they should be conveyed through your messaging.
For example, currently, Editing Without Ego seeks to prioritize:
- serving LGBTQ+ founders and consumers
- encouraging revolutionary business models
- promoting an understanding and equitable world.
These are all values that I hold personally and would like to focus my energy on. I prefer to work with other LGBTQ+ founders and allies as clients, and I prefer to work with businesses and nonprofits who are reimagining how resources are exchanged and shared, and working towards equity.
I’m still working on how to make my imagery convey these values, and I’d love to hear what you think over on Instagram!
Why do you do what you do, and how do you plan to accomplish your goals? Knowing this will help you communicate your mission, vision and values to your audience.
The first step to a high-converting brand and serious impact is strong copywriting. Need help getting to the core of what you do and why you do it? Sign up for the email list for more of my best advice, or get me all to yourself on a discovery call today!