Reaching for the stars: Inspiring Mission Statements and what you can learn from them

Whether a search engine or a hotel, a business is more than the service it provides; it is a brand which works to project a particular ethos and set of values in line with increased use of its products or services. This message is often wrapped up neatly in a company mission statement. The four values that these statements tend to share are inspiration, value, plausibility and specificity.
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The most empowering statements extend beyond directly pushing company products, promoting certain ways of life across a wider spectrum. These values not only encompass the individual in an immediate frame, but also extent into a larger scale ideology which purports to benefit society. These statements are often effective providers of a sense of company values and culture. If a company has put time and effort into developing a unique manifesto or set of values, it’s likely to invest time and effort into implementing these in their offices and premises.

Empowering the individual

Nike’s famous ‘Just do it’ slogan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their company philosophy. The mission to ‘bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’ is qualified by the brilliant caveat ‘If you have a body, you are an athlete’. Promoting elite sports clothing and equipment whilst also pushing an inclusive message has made Nike a successful brand in both the popular fashion world and at a more professional level.

Whilst Nike promotes this lifestyle alongside its products, service providers tend to be the ones whose ethos is more widely applicable as an inspirational life message. Airbnb urges the individual to ‘belong anywhere’ in their promotion of travel and adventure. The idea of taking your confident, settled sense of familiarity with you clearly works with the homely accommodation they provide; the message, however, obviously extends and can impact beyond the product.

Likewise Starbucks states that it is looking ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time’. The notion of reaching out to the individual strikes a chord when the consumer believes that they could be that individual. By fulfilling the stipulation of being the ‘one cup’ the consumer subconsciously subscribes to the notion that they are inspiring and nurturing their spirit.

The Tumblr aim, ‘To empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve’, also aims to seep into the subconscious, not only selling the product but telling individuals to believe in their own work. Compliments create happy, repeat customers, so telling users of the site that they ‘deserve’ more because of the high quality of their own work is a winning strategy.

Sets of values – more than just a statement

Whilst the likes of Nike and L’Oréal work in catchphrases, selling a lifestyle wrapped up in a product, other brands work to sell larger, more developed sets of values. Whilst these can then lack the snappy specificity of message, such manifestos can actually give a far better and more comprehensive idea of the direction that the company intends to move in.

The best example of this is the software company MOZ, whose ‘TAGFEE Code’ encompasses the best elements of an extended mission statement. Their mission to be ‘as Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic and Exceptional as possible’ ascribes to a wider life ethos and set of values. This then becomes more than a single aim, encouraging consumers to ascribe to a way of life synonymous with this particular company culture.

Similarly, ‘Life is Good’ promotes the power of optimism, extending into the realm of life rules and culture through their 10 ‘superpowers’: gratitude, creativity, authenticity, love, courage, compassion, humour, fun, simplicity and openness.

Both of these codes have one thing in common; their sets of values come complete with colourful, engaging website graphics which are ideal for company marketing and promotion. They focus on promoting an inspirational yet achievable way of life to connect with the individual, selling products and services through creating the appearance that such products are part of this desirable way of life.

Companies such as Ford project the message that they actively care for their employees as well as nurturing a way of life for the individual. Stating that ‘we go further to make our cars better, our employees happier and our planet a better place to be’ encompasses the product, the individual and the wider world.

To change the world

Company promises and missions can, however, extend beyond the individual, into bigger plans and aspirations concerning altering the way the world works. For larger companies and corporations such as google and amazon, with 57,000 and 300,000 employees respectively, the idea of having a global impact is a realistic possibility. So when Google states its aim ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’, this might not just be wishful thinking.

In contrast, smaller companies with similarly large scale aims have to work harder to sound sincere as opposed to ridiculous. WeWork’s mission ‘to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living’ and Ansana’s dream ‘To help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly’ reach for the stars. Such aspirations are, however, less realistic and can seem overly highfalutin.

So, whether you are looking ‘to embrace the human spirit and let it fly’ or to find a company where everyone has ‘the ability to heard, seen and share their thoughts and experiences as they happen’, you can learn a lot from company mission statements. The more comprehensive and specific the statement, the more a company has thought through its values, and the more likely it will be to implement these value in the workplace.

About the author

Alexandra Jane is the writer and editor of graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency. Check out their website to see which internships and graduate jobs are currently available. Or, if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.

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