Vision Statement: What is it and isn’t it?

7 mins read

This article explains what a company’s vision statement is and also what it isn’t, along with examples of each.

Vision is defined as “the act or power of anticipating that which may or will come to be”. Really, every new business or organization starts with an idea, and it’s that idea that forms the vision for the business. It is through a vision statement that companies have the opportunity to share their foresight of what they want their future to look like. A vision statement answers the question of “where do we want to go?” Let’s take a look at what a vision statement is and what a vision statement isn’t.

What is a Vision Statement?

Your vision statement is a snapshot of the future you are wanting to create with your business. When sharing your vision statement, you are sharing the hopes and dreams of your business. Your vision statement should be an inspiration of what the company desires to achieve in the long-run, as it sets a defined direction for corporate-level strategies and planning. A strong vision statement will also act as a reminder and renewed sense of hope for organizations during the tough times, or for the tough decisions. Vision statements are often ambitious, as it should be an inspiring message that is motivational to internal employees, and exciting for external consumers. Vision statements are often only one or 2 sentences in length, anything longer and the message can get lost in the words losing the inspirational intention.

Here are two examples of strong vision statements:

“Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people.”

This vision statement is ambitious yet realistic, and also inspiring for the reader. This is a great example of how a company can take a simple concept like selling furniture and home decorations and turn it into an inspirational message that leaves consumers wanting to interact with their products. While IKEA may not be able to make everyday life better for every single person, they are targeting “the many people” – which ends up being anyone that will benefit from their products.

“To move the world forward through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all.”

Now that is a motivational vision statement! Just as ambitious as their mission statement, Nike’s vision includes influencing the entire world. Through their innovations in sportwear and equipment, Nike is looking to create community and improve the world we are playing in. This vision statement is very strong as it instills a sense of pride for the internal employees and stakeholders, while inspiring the external consumers to see exactly what the Nike brand is all about.

What isn’t a Vision Statement?

While a vision statement can be seen as a rough road map of where your company is aiming to go, it shouldn’t include specific details or milestones you are trying to achieve. A vision statement also doesn’t include any strategies to achieve your company’s vision, or the likelihood of achieving that vision in the future. If a vision statement was the map you had to a final destination on a road trip, it wouldn’t show the stops along the way or what you can expect on the winding roads ahead; it would, however, show you the exciting destination that you are aiming to reach.

A Vision Statement is not:

    • A business plan for future success
    • Specific milestones or details
    • Revenue goals
    • How likely you are to achieve your vision
    • Your company story
    • Your Mission Statement
    • Your company Motto
    • Something to forget after writing – it should be promoted to everyone in the organization for alignment, and should also be reviewed regularly

Here are 2 examples of vision statements that do not fulfill their purpose:

“To create a shopping experience that pleases our customers; a workplace that creates opportunities and a great working environment for our associates; and a business that achieves financial success.”

This vision statement does not share the hopes and dreams of the company and isn’t inspiring for us readers. These are simple goals listed out that the company hopes to achieve. The goals are easily achievable and do not show any ambition. What does this company hope to see in the future; the above statement does not answer that question and doesn’t leave us wanting to know more about the company or what they may achieve.

“Innovation that matters for our company and for the world.”

While innovation is usually a very inspiring word to see, this vision statement is lackluster as it leaves the reader confused as to what exactly they are reading about. It is good for a vision statement to leave us wanting to know more about the company and what they are doing to achieve that vision, however this statement leaves us with so many questions it will most likely lead to doubt. What are they innovating?

Is Your Vision Creating a Statement?

Above all your vision statement should be a constant reminder that the end goal is more important than the everyday happenings. On the most difficult days it will serve as that light at the end of the tunnel, guiding you forward to a brighter future. If you have yet to create a vision statement for you company, we hope that this article has provided you some valuable insight into what your vision statement should accomplish. If your company already has a vision created, then we challenge you to ask yourself the following question: “Is our company’s vision creating a statement?”

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