The Problem with Mission Statements (and Company Writing)

Here is a great video by Fast Company discussing why a majority of mission statements these days tend to be awful. There are often bloated company statements, filled with unnecessary ideas and useless buzz-words. As a result, many of them have little meaning (if any) and often serve as nothing more than a fancy sounding space-filler.

But this problem is not limited to mission statements; it often carries over to other company writing (About Us, Storytelling, etc.). The writers often want to include as many ideas in a limited space. They want to make sure every topic is covered and every trending word is used, so they continue adding more and more to the initial statement until the original purpose is lost.

The writers forget that they are writing to explain something or inspire someone, not just to sound the best on paper. And so their admirable attempts to write something great usually end up as something lackluster.

Ultimately the best solution for this is to keep it simple. Especially in this new age of social media, where every company and website is competing for an audience, simple is often more appealing because it is so easy to digest. People would rather have something that is easy-to-read and makes sense, than something that they have to decipher and over-think to understand. As Dan Heath states in the video, using concrete language to simply explain the why is often all that is necessary to write a great mission statement (or content in general).

With that, I’ll leave you with a perfect example of a simple and very effective mission statement from Water.org:

“To reach more people with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) faster and at a decreasing philanthropic cost per person.”

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