Does your company have a vision statement that clearly articulates what you’re trying to achieve? Have you thought through what the world would look like if your business was maximally successful?
If not, you may have a problem.
The fact is, if you haven’t defined your vision statement, you can’t expect your team—or your customers or investors—to understand where your company is headed. A well-crafted vision statement is an essential asset for any growing business.
But, don’t worry. Wherever you are in the process of understanding, identifying, or crafting your company’s vision statement, we have the insight you need to take the next step.
In what follows, we’ll take a look why a vision is so critical to your business’s success. We’ll unpack a vision statement definition, look at vision statement examples in the world’s most successful brands, and see how you can define a powerful vision statement for your own brand.
- What is a Vision Statement?
- The Difference Between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement
- Why Your Company Needs a Vision Statement
- How to Write a Vision Statement
- Tips for Writing an Effective Vision Statement
- 27 Vision Statement Examples
- The Takeaway
What is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement describes the ideal world a company is working to bring about. It is the ultimate and optimal end-state for a business and those it serves.
What would the world look like if your business was able to accomplish everything you set out to do?
If you had all the capital, resources, and time you needed, what type of change would you bring about in the world?
A good vision statement answers these questions clearly and succinctly. Also known as a company vision statement or business vision statement, a vision statement is an essential component of the brand compass, a strategic messaging system that also includes purpose, mission, and core values.
The Difference Between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement
Key to any vision statement definition is the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement. While the two ideas are often confused or used interchangeably, there are important differences between them.
So, vision statement vs. mission statement: what’s the difference?
As we’ve already seen, a vision statement describes the desired end state your organization hopes to bring about. A mission statement, on the other hand, describes how you plan to achieve your vision.
A mission statement is typically more detailed than a vision statement, including what you do as an organization, how you do it, and whom you’re doing it for.
If your vision statement describes your ultimate destination, your mission statement is a strategic roadmap for how to get there.
Why Your Company Needs a Vision Statement
A well-crafted vision statement is essential for any growing business. It’s one of the best ways the leaders of an organization can communicate their vision for the company to their employees.
The change you’re hoping to affect might be felt in your community, your region, or even your industry. But every business sets out to make some positive change in the world.
After all, whatever unique problems you solve for your customers results in a net positive, or else there wouldn’t be any demand for your offerings. So, what do all of those net positives amount to? That’s what your vision should describe.
Let’s take a closer look at why defining your vision is so important.
Establish a Singular Goal
The most important practical value that a well-defined vision statement provides to your business can be boiled down to two words: brand alignment.
A good vision serves as a north star for all of the employees within your organization, from leadership to frontline staff. It ensures even the lowest members on the totem pole understand where the company is headed.
The alignment that a strong vision statement provides is most evident when it comes to the decision-makers in your organization. That’s because your vision statement is an invaluable litmus test for decisions about the strategic direction of your business.
When faced with difficult or strategic decision, your vision should be a beacon guiding the way toward the optimal course of action. It enables your decision-makers to ask themselves, which of these options puts us closer to the future world we’ve envisioned?
Rally Your Team Around an Inspiring Story
One of the most valuable benefits of a great vision statement is as a source of inspiration for your team. Think of your vision statement as an inspiring story that your leader can tell to rally the troops. This makes a good vision statement an important part of effective employer branding.
This is especially important during challenging or uncertain economic times.
As we all know by now, business isn’t always smooth sailing. And when times are tough and you’re facing seemingly insurmountable headwinds, a good vision statement reminds you and your team of the positive impact your business can have on the world.
Progress in business is usually incremental. But every inch you gain toward realizing your ultimate end-state can feel like a victory when you have a meaningful business vision that’s well-articulated, and that everyone in your organization is aligned around.
Embolden Customers & Investors
As important as a well-defined company vision statement is for your internal team, it’s also important for external stakeholders, as well. This includes customers and investors alike.
Today’s customers are looking for brands that think big. To capture the attention of the average customer, your brand needs to be about something bigger than just the products or services you offer.
A well-crafted vision statement ensures that you’re thinking big picture when it comes to the brand messaging you’re delivering to those you serve. It helps you remind them that your brand is going places and that they can only stand to benefit by coming along for the ride.
The kind of confident strategic direction described in a good vision statement is critical for investors, as well. Those who have a stake in your business’s success want to know that you have defined your business’s ultimate end-state.
You may know what success looks like, but until you’ve clearly articulated it in a concise, compelling vision statement, you can’t expect investors to understand it as well.
How to Write a Vision Statement
Now that you have a better sense of what a company vision statement entails and why it’s so important to the growth of your brand, it’s time to get down to the business of actually writing a vision statement.
If you’re wondering how to write a vision statement, the process is fairly straightforward. It only takes a few steps to get is right.
Let’s take a closer look at each step before exploring some important tips to keep in mind when you finally sit down to craft your vision statement.
1. Identify the Most Important Problem Your Business Solves
The first step in the process of writing a vision statement is deceptively simple. The goal is to identify the most important problem your business solves.
The reason this step is deceptively simple is that the answer might not be as obvious as you think. The most important problem you solve isn’t always the practical problems solved by whatever products or services you offer.
The most important problem is the problem behind the problem.
Take Tesla, for example. What’s the most important problem that world’s leading EV brand solves for its customers? It isn’t something obvious, like transportation.
Tesla was created to do more than just provide vehicles that get its customers from A to B. It was created to solve the problem of society’s dependence on fossil fuels. Tesla set out to provide an alternative to the way that automotive companies have always done things.
Or, take Airbnb. The most immediate problem that Airbnb’s customers have is that they need an affordable place to stay for the night.
But is that the most important problem that Airbnb is solving? No.
Airbnb is a solution for a world where people were more and more disconnected. A world where its customers didn’t feel at home in the places they were going to visit—whether those places where around the corner or around the world. For Airbnb, the problem they set out to solve—one that informs every aspect of their brand story—was one of belonging and togetherness.
What’s the most important problem your business solves?
Come up with a handful of options before narrowing it down to the one that sits at the heart of what you do as a business.
2. Envision a World Where the Problem No Longer Exists
Once you’ve identified the most important problem your business solves, the next step in writing a vision statement is one of imagination.
Envision a world in which the central problem you solve no longer exists.
What would your world look like? How would it be different than the world we’re already living in. How would the ultimate positive change created by your business affect your neighborhood, your community, your country, or the world at large.
Create a list of ways the world would be different if your business was able to accomplish everything you set out to do.
3. Craft a Statement That Describes Your Ideal World
The final step in the process of writing a vision statement is to succinctly describe the world you envisioned in the previous step.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to start with the phrase “A world where…” There are then a couple of different routes you can take from there.
The first is to think about your vision in terms of those you serve, your target audience. In what ways are you making their lives better, richer, more rewarding? What central problem are you solving in their lives?
If your vision is centered on your target audience, use the following template as a jumping-off point:
A world where every [target audience member] can do [previously unattainable or difficult thing].
Another way to think about your vision is at a higher level. As we hinted at in the previous section, sometimes your desired end state is about more than just those you serve. It’s about solving a problem for the world at large. It’s about changing the state of things for humanity or the planet.
If your vision is centered on something bigger than those you serve, try the following vision statement template:
A world where [desired end state] is possible.
At the end of the day, there’s no definitive right or wrong way to craft your business vision statement. It boils down to the unique future you’ve envisioned for your business. There are, however, a few tips to keep in mind, whichever structure you decide to use.
Tips for Writing an Effective Vision Statement
So, how can you be sure to get the most out of your company vision statement when you sit down to actually write it?
Well, in addition to following the steps outlined above, there are some best practices that we’ve developed over years of crafting literally hundreds of vision statements.
Let’s take a closer look at 3 simple yet important tips for writing an effective vision statement.
Be Bold & Audacious
First and foremost, your vision should be bold. You may have heard the term “big, hairy, audacious goal” or BHAG. It was first coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.
Collins and Porras’s idea is that visionary leaders have visionary goals. They don’t settle for amortized projections on a PowerPoint slide. They think big, they take risks, and they’re not afraid to dream.
Your vision statement, then, isn’t some financial objective that you hope to achieve in 5 years. It isn’t about the growth of your business or even customer satisfaction. (When it comes to modern brands, customer satisfaction should really be table stakes.)
No, your vision is bigger than just happy customers. It’s what the world would look like if you achieved everything you set out to do as a business.
Describe a World That Doesn’t Already Exist
A key part of being bold and audacious, of course, is to make sure you aren’t describing a world that already exists.
After all, if the world you’re describing already exists, you probably don’t have a very bold or audacious vision.
An inspiring vision is one that describes a level of revolutionary change that only your business can be about. It’s about a future state that’s difficult to achieve but that will be a measurably better state of affairs for those you serve (and even the world at large).
This simple step of asking yourself whether the world you’re describing already exists is one of the best ways to ensure you’ve hit upon a truly inspiring vision statement.
Be Clear & Concise
The best vision statements aren’t just bold and authentic, they are also clear and concise. In terms of length, your vision statement should ideally be a bit longer than your purpose statement but shorter than your mission statement.
This sweet spot, evidenced by the majority of the vision statement examples in the following section, is usually the optimal length for adequately describing the world you’re working to create without belaboring the point or using fluffy, superfluous language.
When it comes to the messaging in your brand compass, the shorter the better. Shorter, tighter messaging is more powerful messaging.
Concise messaging also usually clearer messaging. Taking time to ensure you’ve clearly described your vision without leaving room for ambiguity will ensure that everyone from your team to your customers to your investors is clear about the world you hope to build with the work you do.
27 Vision Statement Examples
The best way to see the power vision in action is to look at a collection of the vision statement examples in the world’s top brands. Vision plays a key role in the success of Fortune 500 brands like those listed below.
As we’ve seen, visionary brands solve important, meaningful problems. They inspire both internal teams and external stakeholders like customers and investors. They leave no doubt as to the world they’re working to create with their revolutionary products or services.
Let’s take a look at how some of the brands you know and love have used effective vision statements to communicate their most important goals and objectives.
Apple’s Vision: “To make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.”
Amazon’s Vision: “A place where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.”
Nike’s Vision: “A world where everyone is an athlete, united in the joy of movement.”
Tesla’s Vision: “A world powered by solar energy, running on batteries and transported by electric vehicles.”
Starbucks’ Vision: “A place of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.”
Google’s Vision: “A world where information is universally accessible and useful.”
Microsoft’s Vision: “A world where every person and every organization on the planet are empowered to achieve more.”
Walmart’s Vision: “A better world where people can live better and renew the planet while building thriving, resilient communities.”
Disney’s Vision: “A world where people around the globe are entertained, informed, and inspired.”
Netflix’s Vision: “A world where everyone can control what they want to watch, when they want it, in one simple subscription.”
Target’s Vision: “An experience full of surprises, fun, ease and inspiration at every turn, no matter when, where or how you shop.”
McDonald’s Vision: “A world where delicious feel-good moments are easy for everyone.”
Southwest’s Vision: “To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.”
Coca-Cola’s Vision: “To craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit.”
Lululemon’s Vision: “To create transformative products and experiences that build meaningful connections, unlocking greater possibility and wellbeing for all.”
Adidas’s Vision: “A world where impossible is nothing.”
Costco’s Vision: “A world where people have access to quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices.”
Ford’s Vision: “A world where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.”
Airbnb’s Vision: “A world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
Samsung’s Vision: “Superior products and services that contribute to a better global society.”
Spotify’s Vision: “A world where a million creative artists can live off their art, and billions of fans can enjoy and be inspired by it.”
LinkedIn’s Vision: “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”
Facebook’s Vision: “A world where people have the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
CVS’s Vision: “An entire world of health care around each and every person we serve, no matter where they are on their journey.”
Under Armour’s Vision: “To inspire you with performance solutions you never knew you needed and can’t imagine living without.”
Twitter’s Vision: “A world where everyone has the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers.”
SpaceX’s Vision: “A world where humanity is multiplanetary.”
A powerful vision statement is one of the best ways to increase brand alignment and boost brand equity. By identifying the ideal world you’re working to create as an organization and articulating a clear, concise statement that describes that world, you can rally your team, inspire your customers, and embolden your investors.
Take a cue from the types of wildly successful brands whose vision statement examples are listed above. When it comes to creating a forward-looking brand experience, few things are more important than a well-crafted vision statement.