Staying Focused with an App Mission Statement

One important part of marketing an app is developing an elevator pitch (for more info on that, see Aleen’s great post at App Launch Map). An elevator pitch helps you tell others what your app does and why it should exist without going into too much detail about its entire feature set.

A mission statement (also called a vision statement/statement of purpose) is slightly different. It can also be used for external marketing; however, it’s primary purpose is to provide internal guidance. A company’s mission statement should ideally be consulted before making any product decisions, codifying any policies, or beginning any strategic initiatives. It describes the company’s “core” and helps prevent a loss of focus.

I think we can all think of at least one app or tech company that seems to have lost its focus lately (?? Dropbox). iTunes used to be about music. VSCO used to be a great photo editor. Everything Facebook owns now has Stories inside of Stories. Indeed, feature creep and a general misunderstanding of user wants/needs has ruined many a good app/service.

That’s why I decided to come up with a mission statement for my app. As I’ve been working to improve Snapthread (yes, I decided to make the “T” lowercase; it’ll be reflected in the next update), I’ve found myself getting lots of ideas for new features. I want to make sure I don’t stray away from the app’s true mission.

So here goes: Snapthread’s mission is to provide the fastest, most intuitive way for people to merge Live Photos and videos for the purpose of compiling and sharing their memories.

I like that this statement has a human component. If I’m going to be returning to this over and over, I want to be reminded that my primary goal is to improve people’s lives (if only in a small way). It also brings accessibility to mind. From this, you can see that my goals are to be fast, intuitive, and to focus on video merging.

How is this useful in practice? Like this: if ever I get an idea for a feature that seems cool, but would greatly increase video export times, I’ll toss the idea because my goal is to be fast. If I ever find myself adding a lot of complexity to the interface, I’ll have to take a step back and ask myself, “Does this slow people down? Does it make the app less intuitive? How does this affect the user’s workflow?” Another example: I’m planning to make Snapthread a universal app. I’ll probably do a lot with drag and drop, because dragging and dropping things on an iPad is both fast and intuitive.

My mission statement also reminds me of how my app is different from others, lest I be tempted to copy them. For instance, Clips also lets users merge videos. However, it doesn’t support Live Photos and is focused more on all of the fun effects that you can add to your movies. It also allows project saving, which adds a data persistence layer and a lot of added complexity. Snapthread doesn’t save anything, because it’s meant for quick creations without a lot of “tinkering.”

An app mission statement doesn’t have to be super formal. It doesn’t even have to be a statement…it could just be a few bullet points (I’d say no more than five). For me, it’s just one more thing to help me focus, especially when I’m trying to make to-do lists and wondering which feature I should tackle next!