Purpose vs. Mission Statements

If you’re a newbie to the brand strategy world, you might be wondering why you need a mission statement AND a purpose statement. You’re not alone, honey. While they both clarify your organization’s intentions and guide everyone involved on what they can expect when interacting with your brand, they actually have critical differences in meaning and function.

It’s always best for a new business or non-profit to have each of these outlined as soon as possible. So,  let’s take a hive dive into the differences and similarities between purpose vs mission statements so you can make sure that your business is truly showcasing what it stands for!

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement defines what you do and what your company will look like if it becomes successful. It is a statement that shows where your organization is headed and describes what the future will look like if you achieve your mission. 

One thing you should know about a mission statement is that it should be able to inspire all the stakeholders. It paints your company’s future so that everyone involved feels like it’s worth working towards that future and being part of it. 

Here’s an exercise that will help you determine your mission:

Start off nice and easy by answering a few questions: 

  1. What does your business do? 
  2. Who do you do it for?
  3. How do you do it?

Alright, now we can plug and play! Here’s the framework I walk through with my clients: 

To [verb] for [your focus/target audience] by providing [service or product you provide].

Many changes will occur as your company grows, and a mission statement should paint a picture of how you’ll account for any challenges that may arise. It will help describe the expected changes and how you plan to handle them.  

What is a Purpose Statement?

A purpose statement is a statement that explains why your organization exists. It also explains why you began your company and what problem in the world it is trying to solve, or what opportunity it’s trying to take advantage of. Purpose can be defined as a feeling and sense of determination or resolve. 

Defining the intent of your business can help improve employee engagement which leads to greater productivity. What problem is your organization solving? Another question you can ask yourself is, if you stopped what you were doing, what would happen? What will be the consequences, and who will lose? 

Other important questions for your consideration are, who can do what you are doing if you stop doing it, and why must you do what you are doing rather than choose to do something else? The answer to all these questions is supposed to be wrapped up in your purpose statement.

Purpose vs. Mission Statements: Key Differences

The mission statement defines your company, while the purpose statement explains why it was formed. While the mission statement clearly states goals and potential paths to reach those goals, a purpose statement will be the driving force behind your actions. 

Here are some other key differences between the two. 

A mission statement is:

  • Functional
  • Pragmatic
  • Strategic
  • Tangible

A purpose statement is:

  • Emotional
  • Ambitious
  • Cultural
  • Aspirational

Purpose vs. Mission Statements: Some Similarities

There’s a reason these two are often confused, and that’s because they are in many ways similar. Here are a few to consider:

  • Both help business owners focus on their goals.
  • Both help in planning.
  • Both motivate leaders, employees, and stakeholders.

Purpose vs. Mission Statements: Which is More Important?

Purpose and mission statements are essential for business success, but one is not better than the other; they’re best suited for different aims and should be given adequate attention.

We recommend crafting this statement in the initial stages of starting your business. The purpose and mission statements should be displayed prominently in areas where employees and customers can easily see them. This will allow you to always remember the company’s values and train employees to prioritize these in their daily work.

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