The Template

Every week, I maintain THE TEMPLATE, an award-winningWinner of the 2015 Plank Center Award (public relations org.) for commitment to mentorship. blog that's been viewed more than 1.5 million times by people all over the world. In every column, I provide step-by-step instruction to help you become a stronger communicator. Like I always say, "Write well, open doors!"

How to Write a Mission Statement Not Full of Corporate Jargon

Dee-1 struck a chord with millennials everywhere, and it didn’t take long for his message to go viral.

The rapper (an LSU grad whose real name is David Augustine) released a song in February to celebrate the end of his years-long struggle to pay off student loans. The song, “Sallie Mae Back,” blazed a trail across the Internet and offered hope to people everywhere that, yes, with enough determination, you too can defeat the evil student loan monster.

“Sallie Mae Back” resonated with people because the lyrics ring true:

“Needed tuition, needed room & board
Had to pay for books, so I took out loans to feed the boy
Graduated wasn’t making quite enough to pay them back
Went into default, messed my credit up, check my Equifax”

See what I mean? Dee-1’s message is honest, transparent and real.

Ah, authenticity. The same idea is critical for a mission statement at a startup or business. The typical route is to fill the page with corporate jargon. Stuff like:

“At Acme Corporation, we’re committed to the pursuit of quality and excellence in all its forms.”

Yea yea…we all know what lame business-speak looks like. When you sit down to pen your company’s mission statement, think about Dee-1 and how he connects with the audience through a shared struggle and uses casual, everyday language (”messed my credit up”) to do so.

For an example, check out the mission statement for Warby Parker, the hip eyewear company. Here’s part of it:

“We were students when one of us lost his glasses on a backpacking trip. The cost of replacing them was so high that he spent the first semester of grad school without them, squinting and complaining. (We don’t recommend this.)

…We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.”

Doesn’t it feel like the writer talks with us in a conversational way? Like a friend who shares honest advice? There’s nothing fancy shmancy or overdone about the mission statement. It’s believable and, like Dee-1’s lyrics, it’s real.

When it’s time to compose your own company mission statement, ask yourself:

  • Am I talking with the audience or at the audience? Big difference in tone.
  • Do I explain how I created a solution for a problem we all face?
  • Is there a way to tell a story about how I came to find the solution (ex: “backpacking trip” up above)?
  • Am I speaking from the heart? Trust me, the audience can tell.

Do you have a cool mission statement? Share below!

Featured photo: YouTube


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