Mission vs Vision - which comes first?
When you think about branding, what do you think of first? Maybe it's a logo design, or a colour scheme? A tagline? Any, all, or none of the above? 😅 These are all integral parts of your brand, but branding is also so much more than just your visual brand identity. It's everything else that informs it before that stage even starts, including things like brand values, your mission and vision, the brand story and personality... and so much more! Today we're going to focus on your mission and vision - what they are (and the difference between the two!) and how you can create impactful mission & vision statements for your own creative small business.
What’s the difference between your mission and your vision?
Let's get the biggest Q I'm asked about mission & vision out of the way first - what the heck is the difference between the two?!
In brand strategy your mission & vision are often forgotten by small businesses, thinking that they're only for the larger corporations with hundreds or thousands of employees. But the reason I love your mission & vision is because it gives you confidence in what you're aiming to achieve with your work.
My mentors at Wandering Aimfully, Jason and Caroline Zook, often talk about "enough". They talk about how in a world where we're constantly striving for more, more, more - more money, more time, more customers - we can also be happy with "enough", whatever that looks like for us.
For me, having my mission & vision statements to constantly refer back to and root myself and my work into makes sure that I'm always on track with what I create, and I'm not just doing things for the sake of it. It helps me keep track of my purpose and helps me align what I want to do and create with the impact I want my work to have and to achieve.
Now, on to the actual difference between the two. I like to describe it in terms of what each statement will help you do -
- Your mission is what you do and how you're going to do it
- Your vision is your why and the long-term vision for your work
Both build off each other, as well, which means that it doesn't really matter what order you go about things! I personally start with the vision, because as a big-picture-thinker and dreamer, dreaming up visions for my work and the impact I want it to have comes a lot easier. But also, as a big-picture-thinker, ideas person, and big thinker... coming up with the exact details for how I want to bring it to life feels a lot harder!
How to create a Mission Statement
When it comes to creating your mission, there are a few questions I like to ask myself:
- What do I do?
- What is the result of my work?
- How do I bring this work to life?
And then I review those answers, and look a little deeper inside...look for any patterns. Notice any words that give you that fuzzy feeling, or that intuitive kick or gut feeling that make you feel good, and that feel right.
Then, try to fit them into the following recipe:
My mission is TO _________________ BY _________________
Let me give you a few examples.
Examples of mission statements:
For a financial planner, a mission statement might look like...
My mission is TO create more wealth among women BY empowering them to manage their own financial growth.
Or maybe you’re passionate about helping older generations learn new skills, in which case your mission might be:
My mission is TO empower older generations to learn new skills BY making learning accessible to everyone no matter their age.
It might take a few tries until you land on a mission statement that feels like you can really start to bring to life, that encourages you but also stretches you enough.
How to create a Vision Statement
Okay, so we’ve got our mission. But how do we then figure out what our vision is for our work?
Similar to working out our mission statement, I like to start working on my vision statements by asking myself a few questions:
- Why do I do this work?
- What is the impact of my work?
- What is the purpose of my work or approach?
But before you start to answer those questions - take a step back. I want you to pick out some music that inspires you or motivates you, hit play, and close your eyes (obviously have a quick read of this first - then get closing those eyes!).
Try clearing your mind, take a deep breath, and relax into the space you're creating to do this work.
I'm a big believer that if you're in a more relaxed, calm, mentally clear headspace when you do this work you'll allow yourself to DREAM that little bit more.
Because whereas our mission is more of a practical exercise to work through, that we can also develop and hone over time, our vision is almost like the thing that drives us to do what we do, that acts as a motor for our mission and pulls us and roots us in to our purpose. And I think we need to be in the right sort of headspace when doing that work so that we can really allow ourselves to dream into what that vision looks like for us.
Examples of vision statements:
Going back to our earlier examples, the vision for the financial planner might be:
To create a world where more women are financially independent and able to manage their finances, helping them to live an independent, courageous life.
And the vision for the online educator may be:
To create accessible tools + methodologies that support and empower the older generation to realise and develop their own learning skills, even if they feel they’re ‘past it’.
Do you see how both of these vision statements build on their missions?
Not only does the financial planner want to help her clients create more wealth - her vision is for a world where women have more financial independence and can in turn live a more independent and courageous life as a result of that work.
And the educator that wants to help older generations doesn’t want to do it simply to teach them skills, but to also show them that they are capable even when they feel like they’re not.
How your mission & vision help you
One of the reasons I love your mission & vision so darn much is because they help inform every single thing you do or create in the future! They can aid you as a decision making tool (just like your brand values) and they can help give you direction on what to work on next. They can help you to say no to more things, if they don’t align with the larger vision that you have for your work.
They help you to live out your life + business in a way that creates more impact in the way that matters most to YOU - because when you run your business decisions through the filter of "does this align with my business mission or vision?" you will automatically be
I hope you've found this helpful and feel a little clearer now on what both your brand mission & vision are, and how they can help you. Take half an hour over the next week to develop your mission statement and vision statements for your work - I promise, it won’t ever be time wasted!
If you loved this article, you'll love my course "Get Rooted". I walk you through my 4-step method to creating a brand with impact - without sacrificing your values or personality. I share my 9+ years in the making brand research questionnaire with you and show you how to use that to create brand values that help you to grow more intentionally. I also walk you through - in even more detail! - how to craft your brand mission & vision statements, and show you how your brand personality & story become a part of your brand roots. Want to find out more? Go check out the course!
Side note! There may be affiliate links in this blog post - if you click on any of them & make a purchase I may receive a small commission. Don't worry though - I only recommend things I actively use & love, and you'll never pay more for doing it this way.