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Exercises in Brand Development: Writing Mission and Vision Statements

Jeremy Rivera

Topics: Brand Development

A business' branding strategy starts with a clear, focused vision of your company in the future. The mission and vision statements are critical signposts; they provide you with a clear road map for your business to grow and become the brand you envision. These exercises are designed to help you develop the mission statements and vision statements for your business, the critical first step in branding strategy.

Exercise #1 Clarity of Thinking

The heart of a branding strategy is clarity and authenticity. Remove the business babble and the window dressing, and take a good look at your vision for your company.

Complete the following sentences with no more than 5 words:

My company makes--

The structure of 5 words means you can get down to the bones of the business quickly without the extraneous fluff.

A Portland app developer wants to start a business selling his apps. He says: "I want to help people get around in Portland without cars, using things like the bike paths, and also not having to depend on public transport like buses." The developer can't fit his idea into the five word structure.

He whittles his idea to: "I want to help people commute without cars using things like bike paths and also not having to depend on public transport like buses." He changes the beginning of the sentence to: "My company makes..."

After further development, and cutting out the extra ideas, the 5 word structure gives us: "My company makes apps for Portland bike commuters." The extra ideas, such as not having cars and not using buses, are going to be translated into the mission and vision statements.

Could you translate the 5 word sentence into an icon? If you have simplified and clarified your idea enough, you might have an image.

Exercise #2 Your Competitive Edge, or, How Are You Different?

Your company is special to you in many ways, but the branding strategy needs to know how it's different from other similar companies. The difference needs to be your competitive edge. Is your quality or quantity better? Do your clients have a unique access to the product through delivery method or price? Is your product developed in a way that adds value? Are the differences measurable? Focus on using plain language and short sentences.

Exercise #3 Changing the World

This exercise lets your passion for how you do business shine. First, look at the answers from Exercise 2. Is your business going to change the world? The answer is always yes. Changing the world doesn't mean the entire world; it can mean changing the world for one person, or one group, or one community or tribe. It can mean the first small push of a snowball rolling down the hill. Your business is going to change your world. Who else is going to be affected by what you do? Consider both the producers and suppliers of your materials, the makers, and the end users.

Complete this sentence: My business will change the world by--

Exercise #4 What is Your Gift to the World?

Your company is changing the world. It's making a product that is unique and authentic and real. If you could picture one way the world might change because you brought your product to consumers, what would that way be? This is only between you and you; you can dream that your bike-commuting app changed the tide of climate change, caused a massive abandonment of cars in favor of bikes, and the world-wide heart disease rate dropped as a result. Okay, once you get that out of your system, why did you decide to make a bike-commuting app? What were you hoping would happen? This question is the why in your branding strategy. Why did you decide to make this company, this product? What dream are you working on?

Finish this sentence: I dream my company--

When you have worked through these four ideas, and have answers in clear, plain language, you're ready to write the mission and vision statements. Think of the mission statement as answering what and who, and the vision statement as answering why and how.

The mission statement is a direct, declarative sentence of your purpose, of what your business does--how you are going to change the world. "My app is going to provide tools that support and encourage people in Portland to commute by bike."

The vision statement is one sentence that details your gifts to the world. "I believe that bike-commuting will improve local climate, personal health, and community engagement."

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