Brand purpose, vision, mission and values explained
If you've ever explored the world of branding a bit deeper or worked with a brand designer or strategist you might have noticed that there are a lot of different confusing terms being thrown in the air and it's not always clear what they mean or what is the difference between them.
Especially the terms brand purpose, vision, mission, and values cause a lot of confusion and may sound like a bunch of fancy words but these are actually essential areas that every starting business owner needs to understand in their business in order to know how to move forward.
To a certain extend you might have already put some thought to these areas even without realising it, but it's always a good idea to articulate them clearly to yourself in writing as these four areas form the foundations of your branding, marketing, and business in general.
But what do these terms actually mean, and what is the difference between them?
They all answer different questions about your business:
Brand Purpose = why you do what you do
Vision = where you're aiming to go
Mission = what are you committed to doing to get there
Values = how will you go about it
But let's look at these on a bit deeper level.
This is your big why, the greater good you want to achieve through your business. And no, it's not to make money – that's just one of the outcomes of your purpose. your purpose isn't really something reachable as it's forever pursued and you could kind of consider it as your guiding star in your business.
It goes beyond you, as it's more about the people you serve through your business and why your business exists beyond money. IKEA has for example stated as their brand purpose to create a better everyday life for people.
Your vision is more about your goals and the results that follow from your purpose. It's about what you want to achieve and envision for your business' future and can often be confused with your brand purpose.
Many big companies tend to use as their vision statement their actual purpose, but your vision is more about where you're aiming to take your business, not so much about why you started it in the first place. It's about your future objectives and set goals. For Walmart, their vision is for example to be the destination for customers to save money, no matter how they want to shop.
It could be that you figure out your vision first so what the goal is and then determine your mission, which is more about what you are committed to doing every day to get there, but it could also work the other way around.
Your mission is more about the actions you're taking and the more tangible steps, not so much about where you're going with them, and it would often be followed with 'so that..' which leads to the vision and purpose. Google's mission is for example to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Brand values are often easy to mix with your brand purpose, as your purpose can touch some similar subjects, but the difference is that your values aren't necessarily the reason why your business exists, they're about what your business stands for and guide your behaviour in your business and how you go about it.
If one of your business' core brand values is for example integrity, equality, or sustainability, it should guide all your behaviour in your business. You don't call it your brand value just because you believe in it, there has to be continuous concrete action towards it and your business must live by it for it to be a brand value.
Most brands start and stop with their mission and focus only on what they do in their business and on the tactics of how the work gets done, but unless you know 'why' you're in the business and what you're aiming to accomplish with it, how you get there won't mean a thing.
You don't have to have it all figured out at the same time or immediately of course, but it's important that you understand the need and place for each of them and use them as you go on about your business in order to succeed.