Don’t get me wrong, mission statements are extremely valuable for your organization to have, but they can easily become platitude-filled declarations of nothingness.

Gone are the days when mission statements containing “to be the industry leader in…” were exciting and inspiring. Phrases like, “most successful”, “world’s best”, or “market leading” are no longer unique. You can’t inspire your customers and employees when your mission literally states what your company does and that it is striving to be the best at it, or the industry leader, or whatever. I don’t know about then, but nowadays, people respond to passion, uniqueness and absolute purpose.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare the age of broad, vague and cliche mission statements…DEAD!

Let me give you a couple examples of these kinds of mission statements:

Here is Albertson’s mission statement from back in 2013:


“To create a shopping experience that pleases our customers; a workplace that creates opportunities and a great working environment for our associates; and a business that achieves financial success.”


It’s hard to get much more vague than that. In case you are wondering, Albertson’s is a huge chain of grocery stores in the western United States…but you wouldn’t know that from this statement. It could literally fit any other store. It look like they have changed it since, and their current mission statement on their website reads:


“Our mission is simple: we want to run really great stores and provide great customer service.”


Again, not much better.

Dell, the Fortune 500 computer company is another example. Here is the first part of their mission statement:


“To be the most successful IT systems company in the world by delivering the best customer experience in all markets we serve.”


This kind of mission statement is too broad and sanitized. For such a large company (over 110k employees in 2012!) they are missing a tremendous opportunity to inspire the people inside their organization and their customers!

How can you avoid writing a mission statement like this for you business? Well, simply put, these kinds of mission statements emerge when:

  • Wordsmithing becomes more important than just deciding simply what you want to do, and writing that down. Sometimes simple is more inspiring. Too many fancy words can dilute meaning.
  • Your mission is so large-scale or unspecific,  it’s impossible to measure whether or not you have achieved it.
  • You don’t move from pretty clear, to really, REALLY clear.

Your mission statement should be the “why” of your organization. All aspects of your business should be aimed at achieving this mission. All opportunities, challenges, and plans should be evaluated against your “why”. You should look at this as the 1 decision that will make 1000 decisions.

You want your company mission statement to answer the question, “why do we exist?”. It should define your specific objective or purpose and be action oriented. You need to clearly communicate your company’s unique identity!

Think about your primary target market when you write your mission…ideally they will be mentioned in your statement. Remember, this is an opportunity not just to communicate your mission to the people in your organization, but to your customers as well! Another note is to try to keep it short…stick to a maximum of 20 words.

Here are several examples of mission statements that are spot on:


Disney: “To make people happy”


Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”


REI: “To inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship”


3M: “To solve unsolved problems innovatively.”


Fannie Mae: “To strengthen the social fabric by continually democratizing home ownership”.


Microsoft: “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”


This was Starbucks’ old mission statement:


“To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffees in the world while maintaining your uncompromising principles as we grow.”


They have since changed it to:


“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – One person, One cup, and One Neighborhood at a time .”


Mission statements like these radiate definiteness of purpose and uniqueness. They inspire.