What Is a Vision Statement? 15 Vision Statement Examples to Inspire You
There is a lot of paperwork that clutters the office of any organization, but the vision statement is unique from the rest. Often confused with a mission statement, the vision statement has a different purpose. A vision statement looks towards the future, but a mission statement talks about what the company is doing in the present.
A vision statement is a business document that states the current and future objectives of an organization. A company’s vision must align with its mission, strategic planning, culture, and core values. A vision statement is not only used in business, as nonprofits and government offices also use them to set strategic goals.
Vision statements are not necessarily set in stone. They can be returned to, reviewed and revised as necessary. Any changes should be minimal, however, because a vision statement is a guideline for a company’s strategic plan, so it must be thoroughly reviewed.
The business vision of an organization might change over time, as companies adapt to their business environment and external factors that might affect their ability to achieve their mission.
A vision statement doesn’t have any particular length. However long it is, the vision statement is formally written and is used as a reference in company documents to serve as a guide for short and long-term strategic planning actions.
The best way to learn about vision statements is to look at real-life examples. We’ve gathered 15 vision statement examples from the best companies in the world to help you write your own.
What’s the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement?
Mission statements are based in the present and convey to stakeholders and community members why a business exists and where it currently stands. Vision statements are future-based, and they are meant to inspire and give direction to employees.
“The vision is about your goals for the future and how you will get there, whereas the mission is about where you are now and why you exist,” said Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a global strategic marketing consulting firm. “The vision should motivate the team to make a difference and be part of something bigger than themselves.”
Mission statements and vision statements are both crucial for building a brand. “While a mission statement focuses on the purpose of the brand, the vision statement looks to the fulfillment of that purpose,” said Jessica Honard, co-CEO of North Star Messaging + Strategy, a copywriting and messaging firm that serves entrepreneurs.
Determine who will shape your vision.
The first step in writing a vision statement is determining who will craft it. In a small business, you may be able to ask everyone for their insight. In a larger operation, you may need to be more selective while still capturing a range of employee voices.
Evaluate your company’s published materials.
Your company likely already has published goals and established values in its employee handbook, marketing materials and other publications. Use this information to guide your work, suggested Alison Brehme, an author and content, marketing and media strategist.
Hold workshops to brainstorm your vision.
Brandon Shockley, former vice president of market research at branding and marketing firm 160over90 and now head of investor research and insights at Vanguard, recommended hosting workshops with key stakeholders representing a cross-section of your organization. Then, he said, assemble teams and use collaboration tools to create alternate versions of the statement, and gather employee feedback about how each version resonates.
Get individual input.
Falkowski also suggested conducting interviews with individual stakeholders to encourage honest feedback. Employees can identify common themes, describe the organization’s future in words or use visual branding tools as a basis for the vision statement.
Check out competitors’ vision statements.
Keep it short but meaningful.
A vision statement should be concise – no longer than a sentence or two. You want your entire organization to be able to repeat it quickly and, more importantly, understand it. However, a vision statement must be more than a catchy tagline.
Create a longer version for leadership’s eyes only.
Don’t fret if you feel that a short vision statement doesn’t fully express the intricacies of your vision. You can create a longer version, but it should not be the one you broadcast to the world.
“Let’s be honest – most business leaders, not to mention boards of directors, won’t be able to sum up their vision in a pithy sentence or two. That’s OK,” said Shannon DeJong, owner of brand agency House of Who. “Have a full-length version of your vision for the leadership’s eyes only. Think of the long version as your reference guide to why you’re in business in the first place.”
Map out your business’s biggest goals.
When you’re crafting your vision statement, start by mapping out your business’s most audacious goals, Taylor suggested. “Reviewing your long-term goals in a collaborative setting will help you then zoom out on what your organization and the world will look like if you achieve them. That zoomed-out view of your success is really the heart of your vision statement.”
Consider your company’s potential global impact.
Ask questions that reflect your business’s eventual scale and impact, Honard advised. “Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ve created a roadmap between your present and your future.”
Don’t be afraid to dream big once you gather all the information and get down to writing. Don’t worry about practicality for now; what initially looks impossible may be achieved down the road with the right team and technologies. Work on shaping a vision statement that reflects the specific nature of your business and its aspirations.
Be daring, not generic.
Shockley said there’s nothing wrong with a vision statement that is daring, distinct or even disagreeable. “If a vision statement sets out a generic goal that anyone can agree with, it is likely to produce mediocre results. A goal like ‘delivering an exceptional experience’ applies equally to a hospital, bank or fitness club.”
Consider creating a brand vision board.
If you’re interested in taking your vision one step further, create a brand vision board, Taylor suggested. A vision board includes your company’s tagline, a “who we are” statement, a “what we do” section, a business vision statement, an overview of your ideal clients, client pain points, your content mission statement, advertising, products and SEO keywords.
How to Write a Vision Statement Guide
There are literally hundreds of articles out there that give examples of good and bad vision statements. There’s also plenty of articles that give a high-level overview of what to consider when creating your own.
However, what we noticed was lacking was a concrete process to go through to help you create one. As such, we’ve outlined a process that we have used with clients in Cascade that might work for you too.
There are plenty of great vision statements out there that will not conform to the process below. But if you’re struggling or just need a place to start, then hopefully this will help.
Step 1: Define what you do as an output
Start by being exceptionally clear about what it is your organization actually does. Be careful to remain ‘output focused’ rather than ‘input focused’. For example, Microsoft famously had a vision statement to Put a Microsoft powered computer on every desk in the world (slightly paraphrased).
Strictly speaking what Microsoft ‘do’ is make computer software, but for the purposes of their Vision, they looked forward to the actual outcome of this process – i.e. computers on desks.
Doing so will take you a long way towards creating your vision statement – BUT it’s not enough alone! If it was, all bakeries, for example, would have the same vision statement – which is hardly inspiring!
Step 2: Define what unique twist your organization brings to the above outcome
At some point in your organization’s lifespan – someone will have believed that the reason that THIS organization would be successful where others have failed, was because of. something.
Let’s take our bakery example. So far, our vision statement is looking pretty generic, along the lines of customers enjoying our bread. But why will they enjoy our bread MORE than the bread from the place next door?
Is it because we use centuries-old traditions passed through generations of our family? Because we only use premium grade locally sourced ingredients? Whatever your unique selling point is – let it shine through in your vision statement.
Step 3: Apply some high-level quantification
A common problem with a vision statement that isn’t as good is ironically, that it’s too visionary! With no possible end in sight (or a totally unrealistic one) – the initial inspiration derived from a solid vision statement can quickly turn to frustration or even cynicism among employees and customers.
Sticking with our bakery example, we might want to refine our target audience to ‘every customer who walks through the door’. That’s fine, or maybe we want to be bolder: ‘every customer within walking distance of a store’.
Step 4: Add relatable, human, ‘real world’ aspects
OK, your vision statement by this point should be getting pretty close to finished. But one final trick you can apply to help make it even more memorable is to add a real-life aspect.