Company values, vision and mission: what they are and how to define them

05/01/2023 | Santander Universidades

Zig Ziglar, a writer, salesman and motivational speaker, states that “if people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you”. In this sense, the values, vision and mission of a company are three crucial concepts that allow businesses to define who they are, what their goals are and how they will achieve these. 

In fact, according to an article by the Harvard Business Review, "Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed, while their strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. These two ingredients are the glue that holds a company together as it grows and changes". 

Indeed, defining a company's values, vision and mission is vital to establish the path to be taken if you want to be successful, in other words, these concepts allow us to define the pillars on which a marketing strategy rests. Want to learn more about company values, vision and mission, and how to define these? In this article, we explain all.

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Corporate mission

A company's mission is defined as the main reason why the company exists, i.e., what its purpose or objective is, as well as its role in society. Thus, a company's mission allows it to establish the basis of its business plan and build coherent market strategies, as any decisions on fulfilling a future goal must be made based on this. 

A well-defined mission should be brief, concise and easy for the target audience to understand. At the same time, it should also address questions such as: What are we doing?, Why are we doing it?, or Who are we doing it for?, differentiating you from the competition. In fact, the mission statement can serve as an inspirational motto for staff.

Below, we take a look at sample mission statements from various companies:

  • Airbnb: lets its clients see that they will feel at home and won't have to worry about a thing on their travels. 

"Creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we are focused on creating an end-to-end travel platform that will handle every part of your trip."

  • Apple: has a clear focus on its users, to whom it offers products and services of outstanding quality. 

"Bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”

  • Google:  highlights its objectives in a clear and simple way.

"Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

  • Patagonia: its mission demonstrates its ambition to create high-quality products without compromising the environment. 

"Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

  • McGraw Hill: we get the sense that the most important thing for this brand is that students have access to all of the knowledge they need.  

"Accelerate learning by creating intuitive, engaging, efficient, and effective learning experiences — grounded in research."


Corporate vision

It's common to confuse a company's vision and mission, although they are two different concepts. On the one hand, the mission, as we have already said, is the company's reason for being, while "vision" refers to where the company is heading and what its goals are in the medium and long-term.

The vision allows you to define the path to be taken in order to achieve the set goals. To do this, it should outline the principles that shape the company in a clear and realistic manner, as well as respond to questions such as: What do we want to achieve? Where are we headed? Where do we want to be in the future? and How will we get there?. Additionally, unlike the mission, its definition may be longer, although it's always best to be brief, highlighting the most important points. 

Here are some examples of corporate vision, following on from the previous examples:

  • Airbnb: their vision is to offer their accommodation service all over the world, for both guests and hosts. 

"Belong anywhere".

  • Apple: declares its vision is to be always at the forefront of its sector. 

"We believe we need to make great products and constantly focus on innovating".

  • Google: Google's vision is highly ambitious and exciting - its wish is to make all existing information available to its users. 

"Provide access to the world's information in one click".

  • Patagonia: its main ambition is to be a company that is 100% socially and environmentally responsible.

"Make Patagonia a fully responsible company".

  • McGraw Hill: its goal is to individually and collectively excel through knowledge in all students worldwide. 

"Unlock the full potential of each learner". 

Corporate values

A company's values complement its vision and mission. These are the principles on which the company's actions and decisions are based. They establish the guidelines on which to work and directly influence the company's development, work dynamics, customer service, brand prestige and the social or environmental awareness of the business. 

Corporate values must clearly define the ethics of the business and its staff, and should be in line with its vision and mission. These values should address questions such as: Who are we? What do we believe? and What is our organisational culture like? 

Returning to our examples, here are some brand values:

  • Airbnb: "champion the mission, be a host, simplify, every frame matters, and embrace the adventure". 
  • Apple: "excellence, focus, development and innovation". 
  • Google: "learning, success and inclusion".
  • Patagonia: "simplicity, utility, minimalism and connection with nature.” 
  • McGraw Hill: "commitment, efficiency, usability and effectiveness.”

Why is it important to set out company values, vision and mission?

As we can see, defining the company valuesvision and mission are essential nowadays. These three concepts allow us to define the structure and aims of an organisation, as well as its culture, its role in society and the way it acts when faced with decisions or problems. In short, they are the pillars on which a company is built.

To write, develop or even modify the company values, vision and mission, it is also vital to have the necessary tools and skills, because, in a changing working context like the present, it is crucial to stay up-to-date and understand the needs of both workers and the market, and clients. Only in this way can aims be met. 

That’s why, Banco Santander, in collaboration with The London School of Economics and Political Science, one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions in the fields of economics and business, launches 1,000 Santander Open Academy | MBA Essentials 2023 – LSE

In this ten-week, 100% online certificate course, designed so that you can complete it at your own pace, you will quickly and practically learn the essential business skills to make better decisions and achieve greater impact within your organisation. The programme is offered in English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

This is a unique opportunity to take an in-depth look at the three pillars of business management and leadership taught in an MBA: strategy, finance and leading teams. Additionally, you will be supported by the best mentors and facilitators from the LSE and you will be able to interact with your peers via weekly forums and group dynamics. The course has no cost for the beneficiaries and it is not necessary to have a university degree, nor to be a Banco Santander customer.

Do you want to play a more relevant role in decision-making in your professional environment? Sign up for Santander Open Academy | MBA Essentials 2023 – LSE and whether you get it or not, never stop learning.

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