architecture mission vision values

Architecture mission, vision, and values – the practical guide

As an architectural business, you have internal goals that you use in managing your work and external ones that you make public.

While internal goals can be broken down and segmented into logical, quantifiable, and trackable tasks and KPIs, the external goals you broadcast can become a bit confusing. 

At the same time, you can benefit greatly from sending out the right messages about your goals and values. Deciding on a clear set of values you broadcast externally is, in fact, a valuable marketing tactic.

Things like a mission statement, vision, and values are often used to broadcast your company’s goals externally. 

These terms are often used interchangeably, and a lot of beginner architects are confused about their practical meaning. However, these concepts really move the needle once you get past the initial growth stage of your business.

There’s a very practical reason to take your “about us” message seriously: it helps you market your company and close deals.

Same way, when you abuse the mission/vision/values terms without understanding them and turn them into flashy woo-woo – you miss out on a lot of branding and marketing opportunities.

Let’s go over some practical ideas related to the mission, vision, and values of an architecture business.

The Mission Statement

Often expressed in a mission statement of an architecture firm, this is roughly why you work.

Keep in mind that “mission” does not mean goals or objectives, so don’t put any goals into your mission statement.

Unfortunately, most architecture companies get this wrong and thus waste an opportunity to stand out.

For instance, Keystone Architecture lists the following as their mission statement:

Our mission is to become a leading architectural firm in creative design solutions that resolve our clients’ social, environmental & economic needs.

While “becoming a leading firm and serving our clients” is a great goal of any business, there’s a lot more potential in this mission statement. Mission statements like that are the reasons many observers scoff at missions in general.

Surely your company exists to make money. 

But why do you make money by offering architecture services? 

What if you didn’t need to make money? Would you still like to be designing buildings? 

Answer that and reflect it in your mission statement.

Ideally, your mission should be unique and specific to your company. You could include a target market or the technology you specialise in.

AXIS/GFA does a better job keeping their mission statement specific to their target market and the development methods they prefer:

To collaboratively deliver unforgettable architectural design and innovative technical solutions for America’s intrepid multifamily residential, hospitality, and affordable housing development leaders.

Another thing, – your mission statement needs to be the guiding beacon for your company and help you make business development decisions. Also, keep in mind that your firm’s mission needs to be clearly understood and internalized by every employee, so it has to be clear, accessible, and encouraging.

If you are to produce a generic mission statement, make it short and succinct as Aedas did:

We create world-class design solutions that are tailored to the needs of cities and communities around the world.

You see how they instantly put themselves onto the world wide arena and emphasize that they are a top-of-the-line firm.

Drafting your mission statements needs to involve something called “thought leadership”. 

It’s only natural that as you are just starting out, your mission will be “work well and deliver what our clients’ want”. 

However, as you build up your brand as an architect and grow your portfolio and authority, it is you that defines what your clients want.

The true trendsetters in architecture are the firms and architects that clients trust and look up to. 

That’s when you absolutely need to go beyond “we work for you” in a mission statement and express the very thought leadership efforts that justify your higher rates.

Values

Listing values is actually more important for your business development than you would ever imagine.

A text snippet with your values on your website and other marketing materials may help you close deals with larger corporate clients that have internal policies of working with contractors that display certain necessary values.

Things like diversity, fair representation, ethical production, and sustainability – all of that make great additions to the values list. Values correlate to the architectural services you offer, so you can browse the values sections on other firms’ websites to get ideas and inspiration.

In a nutshell, the values list is what your potential clients are looking for. Make a list of things your typical customer persona is looking for – and reflect them in your values.

Collaboration and communication are usually high on the values list because all clients want to be heard and their interests accounted for. No wonder our client communication module is one of the PlanMan modules where our architect clients find most of the value.

Same with transparency – being in the dark and discovering unpleasant surprises is one of the biggest fears of a construction project stakeholder, so listing transparency as one of your core values is a smart thing to do.

Target the fears, pains, and challenges of your market with your values statement – and you won’t go wrong there.

Your vision as an architect

The Vision section is a more flexible way of expressing what trends you support and how you’d like architecture and design to progress, more importantly, how you see your company embedded in that future.

A vision is a way to describe your ideal building, ideal city, and ideal client.

Again, if your vision matches that of your client, closing the deal becomes easier. So think about what your target market wants carefully and reflect that in your vision statement.

Tomecek Studio has done a decent job with the vision on their website:

The thoughtful, collaborative and lasting creation of architecture has the ability to impact the quality of life for those who use it. Tomecek Studio Architecture is dedicated to crafting unique and responsive spaces that go above and beyond the standard building experience.

The second part – unique and responsive spaces that go above and beyond the standard building experience is what matters the most here, along with the emphasis on the quality of life.

Banwell Architects list the following as their vision:

Improving the human condition one building at a time.

This short statement already shows the general direction of their work and gives an idea about their caring for the health and well-being of people using their buildings.

Making your mission, vision, and values work together

When you think about it, these three concepts are the backbone of all your marketing and sales activities. 

The Mission is why you work, vision is what you want to see, and values are how you work

That’s all information that your potential clients are looking for when they research you.

If you compose these three parts carefully enough, they can guide your business growth and affect a lot of decision-making. 

Deciding on your marketing tactics, vetting clients, focusing your storytelling efforts, managing risk – all of that becomes easier when you centre around your mission, vision, and values.