Marketing jargon 101: The difference between mission and vision statements

Mission and vision statements are a key part of marketing and creating a business strategy, but what do they actually mean? PR and marketing manager Amy Macdonald explains what these concepts are and what makes a mission and vision different from one another.

What are mission and vision statements anyway?

Mission and vision statements are the basic building blocks of a brand’s marketing strategy, they help to shape both a company’s day-to-day activity while also considering what’s next for a business. Although they seem simple, people can often get them confused with each other or, in some cases, miss the mark in what they are trying to achieve.

Before explaining the difference between these two concepts, it’s important to understand why it’s essential to have a basic outline of what a business is trying to achieve through marketing.

A robust approach to marketing can really build loyalty between a consumer and a brand. People are often willing to go out of their way to source a product or service and even pay more for it if they feel connected to it. An age-old example is Apple, it is a brand which doesn’t necessarily create the best products on the market, however, it has a compelling brand vision and mission that consumers believe in and support – it goes beyond product and services.

What’s a vision statement?

This is a ‘big picture’ concept for a brand rather than a practical message. When creating a vision statement, it’s important to ask if we were in an ideal world and there were no barriers for your brand, what would your business achieve?

As Simon Sinek – a marketing specialist and author – states in Start with Why: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Your business vision is the why, it’s not just about making cold-hard cash it’s about engaging with people and building a common cause people can rally behind.

Below are some examples

Ikea’s is: To create a better everyday life for the many people.

Amazon’s is: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Nike’s is: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)

What’s a mission statement?

A mission statement is much more action-oriented than a vision statement, it’s tangible and aims to inform a business’ who, what and why. It’s a more practical statement and often states exactly what a business is doing day-to-day to make its vision a reality. Taking into account the vision statements above, the below are Ikea, Amazon and Nike’s mission statements – as you can see, they work to unpack and ground the vision statement for each brand.

Ikea’s is:  To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low, that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

Amazon’s is: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.

Nike’s is: Create groundbreaking sports innovations, make our products sustainably, build a creative and diverse global team, and make a positive impact in communities where we live and work.

So, what’s the difference?

Hopefully, the above examples and information have helped you differentiate a mission statement from a vision statement. While one gives a sense of direction and big picture goal a brand is working towards, the other shapes how it will be delivered. Consider the vision the destination and the mission the vehicle to get you there.

Often people consider them in different time periods, while the mission statement states what the brand wants now, the vision statement describes what a company wants to be in the future.


By Amy Macdonald

Amy is a specialist in marketing and PR, she works to enhance a business' brand through strategy-planning and tone of voice . Amy has delivered a range of PR campaigns across a number of sectors including: property, construction, leisure, retail, charity and the arts.