Table of Contents
- What Is a Vision Statement?
- How Does a Vision Statement Differ From a Mission Statement?
- Examples of Vision Statements vs. Mission Statements
- What Are the Key Components of a Good Vision Statement?
- Things to Avoid When Writing a Vision Statement
- How to Write a Vision Statement in 5 Steps
- 5 Best Practices for Writing a Vision Statement
- Top 20 Vision Statement Examples
- Get Started on Your Vision Statement Today
- Vision statements convey an organization’s overarching future purpose.
- They clarify a company’s “why” while mission statements communicate “how.”
- Vision statements combine a company’s mission, core values, uniqueness, and goals.
- They serve as the company’s “north star” and guide all business actions.
Starting a business can be an exciting undertaking, reaping many promises of reward and economic benefit. Amidst this motivation and excitement, the temptation to jump right in and get started can be overwhelming. Navigating the new waters of a business successfully, however, requires thoughtful planning and strategy. You can be easily knocked off-course by the waves of uncertainty if you don’t know where you’re going, even if you have some of the finest tools and sailors.
In this article, learn to distinguish the importance of having a vision statement, mission statement, core values, goals, and strategy. Then, explore how to craft a powerful vision statement that fosters business success by learning from 20 examples of the world’s top companies.
What Is a Vision Statement?
A vision statement is an organization’s guiding description of future objectives. The vision statement communicates what the organization’s existence strives to accomplish. Goals and strategies outlined within the mission statement lean on the vision statement for direction and alignment.
Vision statements are short, clear, and specific while conveying what makes the organization unique. Ultimately, vision statements serve to inspire employees to work together to achieve company goals by connecting to an organization’s core values.
How Does a Vision Statement Differ From a Mission Statement?
A vision statement communicates future aspirations. Where does the organization want to be in ten years? What is it that the organization is working toward achieving? Rather than providing detailed plans, vision statements serve as a light post that inspires and guides actions.
Mission statements, by contrast, communicate tangible details and plans. Mission statements are grounded in the present, conveying the daily steps an organization promises to take to achieve the bigger vision.
An organization’s mission statement, vision statement, goals, and strategy should all work in tandem to achieve a common outcome.
Examples of Vision Statements vs. Mission Statements
While some may use the two terms interchangeably, a vision statement and a mission statement serve different purposes. Here are examples of each for three large companies.
Vision Statement: “Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”
Mission Statement: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
Vision Statement: “To make the best products on earth and to leave the world better than we found it.”
Mission Statement: “To bring the best personal computing products and support to students, educators, designers, scientists, engineers, businesspersons, and consumers in over 140 countries around the world.”
Vision Statement: “To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.”
Mission Statement: “To connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
What Are the Key Components of a Good Vision Statement?
The purpose of a vision statement is to communicate an organization’s mission and direction to both internal and external stakeholders. To do this effectively, it must contain several key components.
A good vision statement:
- Defines an organization’s core focus.
- Reflects the organization’s new and existing core values.
- Provides direction for the organization.
- Inspires and excites employees and customers.
- Demonstrates what makes the organization unique.
Things to Avoid When Writing a Vision Statement
To craft a powerful vision statement that is clear and compelling, avoid:
- Trying to include everything.
- Making it too lengthy or wordy.
- Trying to be catchy or clever.
- Being generic or vague.
- Using buzzwords or cliché language.
Ultimately, your vision statement should be as understandable and unique as your products and service are. Use concise but meaningful language to convey your organization’s unique vision of success.
How to Write a Vision Statement in 5 Steps
1. Get Clear on Your “Why”
Identifying your organization’s “why” for existing is the first step in determining how to create a vision. In Start with Why, leadership and business expert Simon Sinek shares, “Very few people or companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do. By why, I mean your purpose, cause, or belief.” Yet, identifying and articulating your organization’s purpose is critical to its success. This is because people connect—as consumers, partners, clients, or employees—with organizations they trust and understand. Without clarity of purpose, there can be no trust or understanding.
Start determining your “why” by:
- Considering why you started or joined the organization; what do you want to accomplish?
- Thinking about the need you’re trying to fulfill. Is it a cultural need? Health need? Global need?
- Contemplating how you see working with others, the community, and partners to fulfill that need.
- Visualizing any improvements, movements, or shifts you’d like your organization to incite.
For continued learning, read Start with Why: A Powerful Way to Lead with Purpose.
2. Visualize the Future
Practicing visualization is an incredible way to clarify an organization’s purpose. Once you’ve determined the “why,” set aside time to visualize that further. Brainstorming can be done in any manner, from letting words and ideas flow freely onto paper to journaling or meditating. No matter how you do it, making time for this step when writing a vision statement is crucial for understanding the path more deeply and intuitively. It also helps you practice inspiring leadership by allowing you to communicate to your team what brighter vision of the future they’re working toward.
Questions to ask yourself while visualizing:
- What do you want your organization to have accomplished in five years? Ten years?
- How do you see the phases or stages of achieving these things aligning?
- What is the impact you see yourself making on the local and global community?
- Who is involved? What does your team look like?
- Is the organizational culture light and fun? Efficient and diligent?
- What is it that sets your organization apart from the competition? How are you doing things differently?
3. Draft Your Statement
Once you have your “why” and ultimate clarity on the vision supporting it, it’s time to draft your vision statement. To do this, identify the three main points you want your statement to convey. What must be communicated about your organization’s vision? Picking only three points will help remove any unnecessary language while establishing the foundation of your statement.
The vision statement for Adidas, for example, is “To be the design leaders with a focus on getting the best out of the athletes with performance-guaranteed products in the sports market globally.”
The three main points of this vision statement are:
- “To be leaders in performance design.”
- “To help athletes perform at their best.”
- “To be a global provider of performance products.”
Once you have your three main points, begin weaving them together. As you do, focus on remaining present, clear, and concise while avoiding jargon or unnecessary language.
4. Revise for Clarity
Now that you have a draft of your business vision, examine it more closely. Is it clear to others? Does it effectively communicate your organization’s three main vision points? Are there any statements or words that can be eliminated without compromising the message? Taking time to sharpen your vision statement will help ensure it’s meaningful without being confusing.
Tips for refining your vision statement:
- Have a mentor, colleague, or advisor review your statement and provide feedback.
- Organize a brainstorming session with others to dissect the statement collaboratively.
- Meet with members of your leadership team or executive board to get different perspectives.
5. Implement, Communicate, and Intentionally Restate It
Once your vision statement is finalized, begin putting it into action. Start by presenting the vision statement to team members and internal stakeholders. Then, communicate the company vision to external stakeholders and consumers. For your employees to align deeply with the vision, it must be part of daily, weekly, and quarterly conversations. There can’t be any question as to what the vision is. Ultimately, the more prevalent it is, the more powerful it will be.
Tips for communicating your vision statement:
- Organize one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss it.
- Include it in any hiring and onboarding documents.
- Be sure it’s added to the company website and other important locations.
- Begin instituting policies and modeling behavior that supports the vision.
- Schedule a company-wide meeting to share the statement and answer any questions.
5 Best Practices for Writing a Vision Statement
While a vision statement can take on any format, there are a few specific traits that the most impactful statements have in common. Here are five best practices to consider.
- Be sure it includes your goals: What are your business goals? Do they align with and support what’s in the vision statement? Be sure your goals and vision are cohesively working together.
- Keep it short and impactful: Successful vision statements are straight and to the point. Keep it precise by avoiding too much detail or “fluff” language.
- Orient it toward the future: Mission statements are about the here and now, but a vision statement should be set in the future. What is the future state you’re trying to achieve?
- Make it inspirational: Does your statement inspire and excite? Is it confident and empowering? The best vision statements incite action and investment, no matter how ambitious they may sound.
- Give it stability: A successful vision statement will withstand economic, technological, or cultural challenges. Make sure your statement is sturdy and can apply long-term.
Top 20 Vision Statement Examples
Reading the vision statements of successful businesses is a great way to glean inspiration for crafting your own. Here are 20 powerful company vision examples to explore.
“Reddit is the world’s largest and best platform for online communities to share and connect.”
“To be a cultural platform where professional creators can break free of their medium’s constraints and where everyone can enjoy an immersive artistic experience that enables us to empathize with each other and to feel part of a greater whole.”
“That people everywhere will share the power of a wish.”
“To inspire tomorrow’s creators to use technology to build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and the world.”
“To build Calm into one of the most valuable and meaningful brands of the 21st century.”
“To help humanity thrive by enabling the world’s teams to work together effortlessly.”
“To make the movement and management of money as simple, secure, and affordable as possible.”
“To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.”
“Giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
“Becoming the best global entertainment distribution service.”
13. Habitat for Humanity
“A world where everyone has a decent place to live.”
“To make people happy.”
“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
16. Pandora Music
“To enrich people’s lives by enabling them to enjoy music they know and discover music they’ll love, anytime, anywhere.”
“To make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation, and exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less. Brand Promise.”
18. Planet Fitness
“To provide a workout environment in which anyone and everyone can be comfortable.”
“We will build a new medium that will redefine and enhance the nature of spoken information, education, entertainment, and other modes of verbal expression we will help create ourselves.”
“Make work-life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
Get Started on Your Vision Statement Today
“Business as usual produces predictable results. But if you want something fresh, something new, that takes vision. Greatness only happens by design.”Michael Hyatt, The vision driven leader
Getting started on your vision statement can feel like a daunting task. However, approaching it piece by piece can help you generate clarity and momentum. Using questions and prompts can be a great way to dive in.
To begin crafting your business vision, fill in the blanks on these questions:
- “Our organization will know that the vision became a reality when ___________.”
- “People will be better able to ____________ with our vision.”
- “The world will be __________________ if our vision is achieved.”
- “The organization is committed to ________________ to achieve the vision.”
- “We expect to achieve this vision statement within ______ years.”
As Simon Sinek shares, “For me, vision is about just cause—a cause so just that we would willingly sacrifice in order to help advance this cause.” What greater cause do you want your organization to have an impact on?
As you begin crafting your vision statement, remember and integrate your core values. For more insight on values, read “What Are Ethical Values in Business?”