Anjana Rao Product and tech leader. Reader. Traveller. Author. Coach.

Mission vs. vision statements: Key differences and importance

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Mission Vs. Vision Statements: Key Differences And Importance

A mission statement and a vision statement for a product are often used interchangeably, and the intent of each often is misunderstood. In actuality, the two are very distinct and they each have a clear purpose, meaning, and context.

In this article, we’ll learn the purpose of the mission and vision statements and how they outline a company’s goals and objectives.

Table of contents

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement serves to talk about why the product is built and what objective it is trying to meet. At a broad level, it can talk about the problem the product is trying to solve, for whom, and how it is solving it.

In line with the meaning of the word “mission,” the mission statement is essentially the “how” of the product.

The mission statement is defined in the present tense, as it tries to address what the product is trying to actively achieve.

What is a vision statement?

On the contrary, the vision statement outlines what the product is trying to achieve in the long term. A vision statement outlines what the product is trying to achieve as its end goal or long-term objective.

The vision is more strategic and overarching by defining what value it wants to provide the user. It’s the “why” of the product.

The vision statement is therefore a futuristic, long-term view of the company and product’s objective.

Therefore, the vision statement is generally set in the future.

Mission statement vs. vision statement

Let’s go into detail about mission statements vs. vision statements.

Mission Statement Vs Vision Statement Comparison Graphic

Key differences

The below tables list the key differences between the mission and vision statement for a product:

Vision statement Mission statement
Defined in the first step of starting on product definition and development Comes as the next step after setting the product’s vision
Drives the strategy of the product and is the “why” of the product Drives the “how” of the product and how to realize the product vision
Defines the end goal of the product (long-term or future) Defines the immediate goals of the product ( short- or near-term)
Influences the focus of the product, product roadmap, and the features to prioritize Influences the market/customers being targeted and the development plan/processes
Helps align the stakeholders towards a common goal and achieve a mutual purpose Helps perform the planning, resourcing, etc.

Key similarities

Product vision and mission statement
Both are required to ensure the success of the product
Both need to be integrated and embedded in the organization to drive results
Both need to work together to achieve the goals and objectives of the product

Why do they matter in product management?

The vision and mission statements are both critical in the context of product management.

Products without a goal or future direction fail fast, as customers do not see them meeting their needs or solving their pain points. This is where the vision statement helps set the direction, strategy, and focus of the product.

At the same time, products that do not have tactical- or short-term plans will not be able to target the right users or markets or react to competition. Here, the mission statement will ensure that the product management team is synced with all these aspects.

How to write a mission statement

The key to writing a mission statement is to describe how the product is useful and compelling for the customer. A mission statement is the selling point of the product and how the product serves the customer’s needs. So, the critical questions that the mission statements should help answer are:

  • Who are the customers that the product benefits?
  • What value does the product bring to the customer?
  • What is the key differentiator or unique selling proposition (USP) of the product?

While writing a mission statement, keep in mind that it should help address these questions and also meet the following criteria:

  • Should be short, concise, and impactful
  • Should outline the “how” of the product (i.e., how it plans to serve the customers needs and bring value)
  • Should be in the present tense
  • Should have the buy-in across the organization

Mission statement examples

Here, we look at some real examples of mission statements from world-leading companies. Through their mission statements, they’ve been able to understand their customers and markets better, help position and improve their products, and serve their customers and achieve success with their product(s):

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

LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful.

Meta: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

Walmart: Helping people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores and through eCommerce.

How to write a vision statement

Vision statements, as mentioned earlier, are futuristic and long-term. Therefore, while framing vision statements, they should help address the following:

  • Should outline the end goals or objectives the product is trying to meet
  • Should outline the “why” of the product (the value it brings to the customer)
  • Should have a horizon in mind to meet the end goal
  • Should have a defined, realistic milestone to help assess when the end goal has been met

When the above information is encapsulated to form the vision statement, the crux to refine and achieve the final vision statement (similar to the mission statement) is:

Vision statement examples

It’s interesting to note the vision statements of some top global companies that have made behemoth and rapid strides. Their vision statements for their products have helped them steer the direction of their product(s) and overall organization toward their end goals.

These powerful companies have been able to achieve what they set out to do, as they did not lose sight of the vision. They consistently and surely made progress and achieved their vision:

Google: To provide access to the world’s information with one click.

LinkedIn: To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Meta: To bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.

Walmart: To make every day easier for busy families.

Summary of key takeaways

The above sections note both the vision and mission statements for a few of the world’s leading and successful companies. From these vision and mission statements, one should note that both statements are closely related but are mutually exclusive. They are like two sides of the same coin.

The vision statement drives certain key aspects, such as the end goal of the product, aligning the stakeholders, and the roadmaps. The mission statement drives the “how” of the product, the users and market, and the plan and processes.

Therefore, both statements are key to the product and cannot exist without the other. Also, the two cannot be taken up and executed in silos.

Product management teams want to ensure that they are building products that serve their purpose and achieve customer success. To do so, the organization should ensure that the vision and mission statements are the bedrock of the company and the product management team to lift successful products off the ground.

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Anjana Rao Product and tech leader. Reader. Traveller. Author. Coach.

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