A Guide to Writing a Great Vision Statement (With Examples)
What is a vision statement?
A company vision statement is important to have. Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise company.
But what is it exactly?
A vision statement is a formal declaration of an organization’s future goals. It puts forward a basic, pure future scenario. Stating what the organization wants to become and what it wants to accomplish. It is intended to guide decision-making within the business.
Vision statements outline long-term goals over a long-term time frame. They look toward the future and bring guiding purpose to business activities. Above all else, a vision statement is an internal tool. It does this in one or two sentences.
Once delivered, they are seldom revised in any significant way. Generally speaking, the ideas contained within should hold up over the next 5-10 years.
Here’s a couple of examples.
“To create a better every-day life for many people.”
IKEA’s vision statement gets to the essence of the brand. It indicates the company’s commitment to affordable, quality housewares. And it indicates the general future goal of improving more peoples’ lives.
“A love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.”
Patagonia’s vision statement jumps over immediate business concerns.
It signals the company’s commitment to sustainable business practices into the future. And it gives the goal of helping to reverse environmental decline. It notes the philanthropic and activist goals of the company’s operations.
We’ll have more examples at the end of the article. But first, let’s dive in and find out more about the purpose of a vision statement.
What is the purpose of a vision statement?
Vision statements are intended to motivate and inspire.
They communicate what the company values, and what the company wants. Its core competencies. How it intends to help people and serve society.
It’s like a bite-size manifesto. An easy-to-digest philosophical statement. It shows where the company’s energies will be directed in the future.
Just to be clear, it’s different from a tagline.
A tagline communicates your brand to customers. It’s an external marketing tool for brand association. And it often involves targeted messaging.
A vision statement communicates your company culture. It’s an internal strategic tool for business development. It’s broad with unified messaging.
Both are short and to the point. But the similarities more or less end there.
Vision statements can move employees to action. And they can stir consumers of a brand to join the company. Or at least participate in activities it’s involved with, like philanthropy initiatives or public events.
They encourage long-term engagement. They can alter and influence public and investor perception of a brand. And they can also make employees, and the public, more forgiving of organizational mis-steps on the path to a greater vision.
What makes an effective vision statement?
All too often, vision statements become a checklist of cliches. Filled with buzz words, lacking any distinguishing color or character.
A quick Google search will find a trove of examples of vision statements like this. They’re a dime a dozen.
Alternatively, a good vision statement puts forward an inspiring vision.
It makes employees want to buy-in to the values and intentions of their employer. It signals a customer-centric company fixated on delivering high-quality customer experience. And/or the best product or service.
The goal(s) stated are lofty, yet achievable.
The perfect statement nails the essence of company core values. In short, it articulates a company’s vision in a way that’s 1:1 with how its leadership wants it to be viewed.
The importance of having a vision statement
A vision statement is key to business strategy. Why? Because it provides an “original concept.”
It plays an outsized role in defining a company’s culture. It can help ensure strategic planning is on-brand, from the ground up.
A good vision statement can also attract talent. And the right kind of talent. Those professionals who share the same values as the company.
In a more abstract way, it can help encourage better everyday life at work. And encourage employee motivation.
That is, of course, if you truly follow through on your stated goals. If you aren’t practicing what you preach, you will face a backlash. It’s counterproductive to write a vision statement you aren’t interested in fulfilling.
You need to be the company you say you’re going to be. You need to execute on what you say you’ll execute on. Otherwise the exercise is pointless.
A vision statement vs a mission statement
Vision statements and mission statements are often confused.
The easiest way to understand the difference? Understand what a mission statement is.
What is a Mission Statement?
A company’s mission statement explains its reason for existing.
It succinctly states why the business is there. What makes its value proposition unique. What gives it a competitive advantage.
It also identifies the company’s intended customers and target market.
Here’s a clear-cut example of a mission statement.
“To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transportation and energy.”
This rather short sentence communicates why Tesla exists and what it does. Its value proposition of sustainable, forward-thinking vehicles. And energy generation and storage products.
The company has designs on economy and luxury vehicle customers. And homeowners and business owners. It’s an ambitious, general market positioning that is designed to scale up hugely.
A mission statement is meant to be reasonable and realistic. To accurately convey what the business does now.
And they’re meant to be short. About 15-30 words or two sentences on average. However, larger companies tend to have longer mission statements (Tesla bucks this trend).
Vision statements project into the future. Mission statements take stock of the present.
How to write a vision statement & resources
Writing the perfect vision statement takes time. And iteration.
It may be just a sentence or two in length. But every word counts big time. And once you issue your vision statement, it shouldn’t be tweaked.
You’ll be living with it for quite some time. So you should be confident enough to stand behind it 100%.
As you begin working on your vision statement, here’s a few major points to consider:
Start by considering your company’s purpose and its position in the market. You may even want to work out a business plan first. This helps you anchor your vision in company operations and your future road map.
Ask yourself what your business does. How does it help people get what they want or need? What is it you’re really, truly trying to achieve?
Think about what makes your company special. It’s crucial to have a unique value proposition. Otherwise your vision statement can end up sounding generic.
You don’t need to say how you’ll get to your vision. There isn’t space for hashing out logistics and plans in a vision statement. You just want to outline the ultimate goal you’re striving for.
Make sure to use concrete language. Don’t get too abstract and don’t use buzz words. Rein in your lofty goals a bit, so they are contextualized by industry.
That said, the language you use should be simple. Your statement should be easily understood by a general audience. So definitely don’t use industry jargon.
Think about general human and real world concerns. Try to root your statement in the everyday, so readers can form a concrete mental image of your vision. This association can create a solid emotional bond.
Make sure your company values are accounted for. Your vision statement should match perfectly with the values of your organization. If there’s any discrepancy, you will want to rework your text.
These online resources offer some good tips on crafting a vision statement.
Bernard Marr & Co. — “How Do You Write a Good Vision Statement?”
Virtual Strategist — "How To Write A Vision Statement" (video tutorial)
Examples of great vision statements
Here’s a few good vision statement examples. All are concise. All clearly reflect the self-perception and future goals of the company.
“Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's disease.”
“To be the earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
“To be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.”
“To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
“To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
“A just world without poverty. We envisage a world in which people can influence decisions that affect their lives, enjoy their rights, and assume their responsibilities—a world in which everyone is valued and treated equally.”