September 9, 2017

Brand Clarity Mini Series Part 2

How to Create an Inspiring

Vision & Mission Statement

Like (most) humans, great brand has engaging personalities, opinions, and values by which they live. Your district’s “manifesto” articulates what matters to your district, it is your driving force and becomes valuable resources for employees, directors, and associate directors as it serves to unite everyone around a set of values. This is especially useful when onboarding new district members and staff. When people connect with your mission and vision, they will become ambassadors for your district.

By crafting a clear mission statement and vision statement, one can powerfully communicate intentions and motivate both staff and members to realize an attractive and inspiring common vision of the future.

In developing you mission and vision statement, the key to getting support and “buy in” is to involve a small group of individuals who embody the core values of the district. This group should include one or two current board members, a couple committee and general  members, along with staff. Be sure the group is a reflection of the diversity of the district’s members and can provide “out of the box” thinking in developing both statements.

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Sketching the Mission

A mission statement is a written description explaining why the district exists, the members it serves and the group’s core values. A mission statement is a key tool used by leaders as part of the strategic plan. It captures in a few, let me state again, a few sentences, the essence of the district’s goals and it’s underlying philosophies. Equally important, the mission statement explains the district’s purpose to the VASWCD, staff, directors, members, committees and partners.

Imagine back to the game Pictionary. If asked to sketch a tree, you probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time detailing the branches and leaves. You’d simply sketch the trunk and outline the leaves. The same philosophy applies when creating a mission statement. Try to sum up the entire district’s mission in one or two sentences. A mission statement, at it’s best, should be able to double as a slogan. Concise mission statements are more memorable and effective. Like your tree drawing, there is no need to make it overly complicated; just state the purpose of the district and the reason for starting it in the first place. Members and key stakeholders should be able to “guess” the district’s purpose by reading this statement. The best mission statements define a company’s goals in at least three dimensions: what the company does for it’s customers, what it does for it’s employees, and what it does for its owners. Some also include fourth and fifth dimensions: what the company does for its community and for the world.

How to Draw a Vision for the Future

Vision statements also define the district’s purpose, but these statements do so in terms of what the group wants to achieve in the future. It should resonate with directors, members, and staff and help them feel proud, excited and part of something much bigger. The vision should stretch the boundaries of the current state of the district. It gives meaning, shape and direction to the district’s goals, objectives and tasks. The process of strategic planning begins with the vision and works backwards. Understanding the district’s goals and stating them clearly is the first step toward making them happen.

Going back to playing Pictionary, Could you draw a futuristic car? What about drawing an ideal house? To begin the process, think about what the district does and what, in an ideal world, it would do. Think about the way the district should appear to the outside world. Consider the services and benefits the district provides, and imagine it functioning at its absolute highest capabilities. List those visions, and incorporate them into a brief statement giving a good overview of the desired image. Similar to drawing a mission statement, brevity and staying concise are crucial. Think of things in a long-term, board sense without sounding generic. Specificity will limit the vision, and statement won’t be applicable in the future. The best statements are clear about the district’s identity as well as what it wishes to become in the future.

Keep In Mind: The Final Touches

The newly approved mission statement should be communicated to the directors, members, staff and partners. Include the statement on your website and media communications. Refer to it when making important decisions. District leaders should also be revisiting the long-term vision more than just once a year. Save time quarterly or biannually during meetings to ask- are we closer to our shared vision? And, if not, why? Leaders who treat the mission and vision statements as words on paper are losing out. The vision and mission are pictures, carefully drawn by leaders who care, and if done effectively will point the district towards success.

Questions & Comments

We want you to know that the PR/Marketing Committee is here to help YOU. Please don’t be shy, we love “stupid” questions!

Have an idea, suggestion, or comment? Reach out to us! We’re always looking for feedback on how we can be better and make marketing easier for you.

Email the VASWCD staff or the marketing committee at marketing@vaswcd.org or contact committee chairman Derwin Booker. And as always, your VASWCD office is always willing to help!