A study of corporate mission statements yields some interesting results. Most notably, that nobody really agrees what a mission statement is or should be. However there are some common themes that can be observed when looking at the mission statements of large companies throughout the country.
Often, mission statements simply describe what it is that the company does. For example The Home Depot says, “The Home Depot is in the home improvement business and our goal is to provide the highest level of service, the broadest selection of products and the most competitive prices.” Other mission statements are very generic, such as American Express’, which reads, “At American Express, we have a mission to be the world’s most respected service brand,” or Proctor & Gamble’s mission statement, which is, “We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives the world’s consumers.”
Some companies have mission statements that read more like slogans, such as that of Citi, which is simply “Enabling Progress,” or General Mills, who’s mission statement is “Nourishing Lives is our mission.” Walmart, who tops the current Fortune 500 list, has a mission statement that says simply, “We save people money so they can live better.”
A common theme in many mission statements is “inspiration.” From coffee giant Starbucks, who’s mission statement is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” to Coca Cola’s mission statement, which reads: “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” Similarly, Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” and Saks Fifth Avenue says its mission is “To inspire customer confidence and style with every Saks shopping experience.”
Another common theme in corporate mission statements is the desire to be a “leader” in the company’s respective industry. The grocery chain Kroger has as it’s mission statement: “Our mission is to be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health and personal care items, seasonal merchandise, and related products and services.” Disney lists its mission statement as “…to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.” ExxonMobil’s mission statement is “Exxon Mobil Corporation is committed to being the world’s premier petroleum and petrochemical company. To that end, we must continuously achieve superior financial and operating results while simultaneously adhering to high ethical standards.”
Some corporations have mission statements that make their companies sound so altruistic that, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think they were a charitable organization, rather than a profitable business. For example, toy company Fisher Price’s mission statement says, “We believe in the potential of children and in the importance of a supportive environment in which they can grow, learn, and get the best possible start in life. Our company supports today’s families with young children through our breadth of products and services that make early childhood more fun and enriching.” Facebook’s mission statement reads: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Microsoft’s mission statement says, “At Microsoft, our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”
At the end of the day, a company’s mission statement can really be anything the company wants it to be. There is really no “right” or “wrong” way to write a mission statement. As shown above, company mission statements are as diverse as the companies themselves.