Mission, Vision, And Values – Classics For A Good Reason
Why these classic elements of brand strategy are still legitimate
Over the years, we’ve seen many attempts to reinvent the classic Mission, Vision, Values (M/V/V) paradigm, but usually what we find is a semantic rather than substantive modification.
The problem with changing M/V/V is that these are core concepts for a brand and nothing else really captures their meaning quite so well. In other words, you can’t really have a well-defined brand without a Mission, a Vision, and Values, so the best you can really do is to rename the same concepts.
But what’s the point in that?
Semantics aside, the attempted reconcepting of M/V/V ends up at best as more of a side-show distraction, taking away from the important work that needs to be done. At worst, the new model tries to change the M/V/V paradigm and loses some essential element – so you end up with a less valuable end product.
M/V/V is simply the most elegant breakdown of what a brand stands for. Mission defines what you do. Values define how you do it. And Vision states why your brand matters and where it is going. These three elements give you your what, your how, and your why – absolutely vital definitions for a purpose driven brand.
Why reinvent something unnecessarily? Instead, focus on doing the hard work of crafting a solid Mission, meaningful Values, and a Vision that inspires and empowers your team to succeed.
Here’s how we do it:
Start with Mission. This is actually the easiest element to define. It is a statement of what your company does. We prefer to use Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and try to start Mission statements by describing the “why” first, followed by the how and the what. You may be getting confused with all the why, how, and what’s floating around here, but they are all layers. Trust me. So your mission will look something like this:
We’re a company that exists to achieve some end goal. In order to achieve that goal, we use specific processes to make a special kind of widget.
In order to do this, we probe very deeply into a company’s DNA and pull out what’s really behind what they do. We want to unambiguously categorize the company as a reference point, but also make the mission about more than just making a widget. Lots of people make all sorts of widgets – it is the motive behind that widget-making that is important.
Next step is Values. I know we tend to say Mission, Vision, Values, but really the proper order is to do the values second as you need to understand the values to get the vision right.
We prefer a collection of Value statements rather than a list of value words. Value words tend to be generic and, ultimately, meaningless. Instead, we always recommend creating 3-6 statements that can dig down into specific concepts. For example, if a company is focused on creating clean food free of artificial ingredients, they can craft a statement that defines that as a value, which is much more meaningful than using the word “Honest” or “Pure” or something along those lines. If desired, sub statements can also be composed to dig even deeper into each of the statements. So the Values look something lie this:
The last step is to craft your vision statement, which I will address in the next blog.
The work to craft substantial M/V/V is not easy. It takes a lot of thought and consideration, and you have to ponder the past, present, and future of the company simultaneously. But if you put in the work, the results are a very clear representation of what your brand is, what it stands for, and how it will impact the world. We would argue that knowing these things is a necessity to setting and achieving appropriate strategic goals. Without them, your brand is simply flailing about in the dark.