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One thing that sets the world’s most successful businesses apart from their competition is the community the goliaths have been able to create around them. Companies like Nike, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, and even Warby Parker have countless people who stand by their brands.

The communities surrounding these brands are made up of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

If you plan to build a bustling community around your brand, one thing you’ll need is a great vision statement. But what is a vision statement, how does it differ from a mission statement, and how do you go about building one for your brand? Read on to find out.

What is a vision statement?

A company vision statement is a written document that declares the vision of your company. It incorporates your company’s long-term goals and the audience it intends to serve. For example, one of Microsoft’s earliest vision statements was “A computer on every desk and in every home.”

Vision statements are typically short and sweet, but they’re powerful declarations of the future vision of your company. When Microsoft’s vision statement was the one above, nobody would ever have imagined that computers would actually find their way to the tops of nearly every desk in nearly every home in the developed world.

Vision statements are designed to rally company stakeholders, specifically employees, behind the company’s vision.

Is a vision statement different from a mission statement?

A company’s vision statement and a company’s mission statement both center around company culture and the well-being of its stakeholders. However, there are subtle differences that set the two apart. Those include:

  • Central focus: The central focus of a mission statement is in the present. Vision statements define the company’s vision for the future.
  • Reality vs. goals: The mission statement is based on the current reality. It helps stakeholders understand why you’re in business and where your business stands at the moment. Although your vision statement tells stakeholders a bit about why you’re in business, it’s more focused on the long-term goals you intend to achieve.

If you don’t have either, it’s time to work to create them. Consider using an online template or taking advantage of this mission statement generator from Ramp.

Why businesses should have a vision statement

A high-quality vision statement can do quite a bit for your business. Some of the biggest benefits of having a vision statement include:

  • Excite employees: A vision statement is designed to excite everyone involved. It shows what a company could be if everyone behind the company worked together to bring it to its full potential. A solid vision statement helps excite employees, boosting employee morale and productivity.
  • Fundraising: If you’re looking for venture capital or considering alternative funding options, you should strongly consider putting a vision statement together. Oftentimes, venture capitalists and angel investors will weigh company vision statements heavily as they make their investment decisions.
  • Inspire change: Your vision statement should be an inspiring one. If it is, it could inspire the change you created your company to make.

What goes into creating a vision statement?

A vision statement isn’t something that you should create on the fly, just to have one. It’s important that your vision statement is meaningful enough for your employees to rally behind and your customers to care about.

As with anything else, you should follow a strategic plan as you create your vision statement. Use the tips below as your roadmap.

Think about the future

It’s important to keep the differences between a mission statement and a vision statement in mind as you declare your vision. Don’t think about the boundaries of today. Think about the boundless opportunities that lie ahead.

Going back to the early Microsoft vision statement example, Microsoft planned for there to be a computer on every desk and in every home. There were countless hurdles both seen and unseen at the time the company developed this vision statement, but regardless of those hurdles, the vision was clear. It’s important that you adopt a similar mindset as you create a vision statement for your company.

Use the present tense

Here are three successful vision statements massive companies use today:

  1. Microsoft: “To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.”
  2. LinkedIn: “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”
  3. Patagonia: “To save our home planet.”

All three of these statements share quite a few things. One of those is the fact that they’re all in the present tense. Your vision statement should talk about your company’s long-term goals as if you’ve already achieved them.

This is important because when you put your vision statement in the future tense, it may lead to a feeling of your goals being out of reach. A vision statement in the present tense creates a feeling that your company’s long-term goals are attainable, no matter how aspirational they may be. Keep in mind that while a vision statement should be written in present tense, it should encompass your dreams for the future of your company.

Identify company values that you share with customers

Your vision statement should incorporate your company’s values, particularly those it shares with its customers. For example, Tesla’s mission statement is as follows:

“To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

Tesla and its customers value sustainability in transportation. Tesla’s vision statement hits the nail on the head by bringing the issue of unsustainable transport to light and providing a long-term solution.

However, defining your company’s core values and how they relate to your customer’s core values offers more for your company than simply helping with a vision statement. In fact, Eric Glyman suggests it’s one of the first things business owners should do.

Consider the goals of your business and how they’ll change over time

You want your company’s vision statement to stay relevant and in place for as long as possible. After all, stakeholders who watch a company change its vision statement often ultimately see a company that has little to nothing in the way of vision in the first place.  

So, it’s important to consider your company’s future and its long-term goals as you create your vision statement.

For example, say you own a restaurant chain with 10 locations. At some point in the future, you’d love to have a franchise in every city and town around the world. In this case, your vision statement might be something like:

“To bring warm food, great flavors, and smiles to families around the world.”

Think about what defines your brand

Your company is unique. You designed it with your concepts, beliefs, and vision in mind. Think about what makes your company so unique – the factors that truly define your brand – and be sure to include that in your vision statement.

For example, let’s say your company uses waste plastics found in the ocean to produce handbags. You should consider the fact that you care about ocean life so much that you’d build a company dedicated to cleaning the oceans of the world as you build your vision statement. For example, you could use something like:

“To bring fashion to consumers of all walks of life while saving countless lives of our ocean-dwelling friends.”

The bottom line is that you should include any initiatives you take part in or factors that may set you apart from your competition in your vision statement.

Hold workshops for vision brainstorming

You started your company with your unique concepts and goals in mind. However, as it grew, it took on a life of its own. Today, your company supports a team of employees, vendors, investors, and customers, all of whom may want to take an active role in developing your company’s vision statement.

Consider holding a workshop where you invite your employees, investors, vendors, and possibly even customers to discuss what your company stands for. Explain to everyone involved that you’re working to develop a vision statement that properly portrays what your company is, why it is, and where it’s headed.

While you have your brainstorming session, be sure to take all comments seriously and work to incorporate what you learn into your vision statement.

Check out competitor vision statements

Your vision statement should be unique to your company. But you may find difficulty deciding where to start. Chances are you have a few large competitors, and they have vision statements.

If you’re at a loss, there’s no shame in looking to your competitors for inspiration.

Take some time to find and read their vision statements. When you do, think about how their vision statements help to define their brand and why it exists. Moreover, think about how their vision statement may work to inspire employees and other members of their ecosystem.

Now, with a few examples fresh in your mind, think about how you and your competitors are similar and how you differ. Use this to create a vision statement for your company that’s uniquely you.

Make sure your vision statement is short and meaningful

No matter what major company you look at, you’ll find that their vision statements are short and impactful. You’ll never find a vision statement that’s two or three paragraphs long, and you’ll rarely find one that’s more than a single sentence long.

There’s a reason for that. A vision statement is a written declaration that employees and other members of your company’s ecosystem can digest quickly. However, despite its brevity, the statement is inspiring, driving action among the audience.

Consider your company’s potential impact

Chances are you’re not just in business to make money – there’s likely a driving reason why you do what you do. You may be interested in furthering sustainable energy technology in an attempt to impact the environment. You might be interested in creating social change that leads to better opportunities for children in poverty. You may even have created a product that helps those with learning disabilities keep up with their classmates.

No matter what it is, your product and your company have an impact on the world around them.

Think about the unique impact your company has on the world and the change it can make in the long run. Even if there are hurdles along the way, think about the potential impact your company will have years down the road, and include that impact in your vision statement.

Think big

Think of all the examples of vision statements mentioned above. You’ll notice they all represent companies with massive dreams. For example, you have what was a relatively small computer company aspiring to put a computer in every home and on every desk, a car company that plans on cleaning up the transportation industry by making electric vehicles readily accessible, and a company that plans on bringing economic opportunity to the far reaches of the Earth.

When you were young, you were told that you can do anything you want. That hasn’t changed.

That small computer company did lead to a computer in nearly every home, on nearly every desk, and a smartphone in nearly every hand. That electric vehicle company is making a massive impact, and that social media platform is creating compelling economic opportunities. The only limitation is yourself. So, think as big as humanly possible.

Vision statement examples

Aside from the vision statements mentioned above, some good vision statement examples include:

IKEA: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

IKEA’s vision statement is one of the best vision statement examples anyone can give. It’s short, but it’s incredibly impactful. The company plans on creating a better life for everyone, and anyone who knows the brand knows it does so by offering a wide selection of quality products at extremely low prices.

Amazon: “To be Earth’s most consumer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

A company as large as Amazon has to have a meaningful vision statement, and the company doesn’t disappoint. The vision is clear. Amazon wants to offer such a selection that it is the number one option for online shopping – and it has done a great job at working toward that vision!

Disney: “To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.”

Disney is yet another massive company with an overwhelmingly meaningful vision statement. The company aspires to be and maintain its position as a leading producer and provider of entertainment and information.

Stripe: “To raise the economic or monetary value of the internet.”

Stripe is a business-to-business solution for payment processing. Although the company’s mission statement is short and sweet, it’s powerful – and largely accurate when you consider what the company has done over the years.

Shopify: “To make ecommerce better for everyone.”

Shopify is a leading ecommerce company. Its vision statement is yet another example of how something short and sweet can be significant. The company strives to improve the online shopping experience for all involved.

All of these vision statements are motivating statements that give employees, vendors, and even customers something to get behind. They’re short and sweet, but they’re also incredibly meaningful. Aim for this as you create yours.

Flexport: “To make global trade easy for everyone.”

Flexport is a global logistics company helping businesses ship goods worldwide. They’ve proven that a clear vision statement is important even if you’re not a consumer brand. To achieve this, Flexport opted for something short, yet impactful that most people can understand—and more importantly, a vision that the majority of folks can get behind.

Some poor examples of vision statements would be:

“Changing people’s lives.”

Although this vision statement is short and seems to have a massive impact, it doesn’t tell you how the company intends to change people’s lives. This disconnect can lead to an audience not resonating with the statement.

“To feed you great food.”

This vision statement is great in some respects. We know that the company’s vision is to bring great food to people, but why just you, or me? It’s important to outline your broad audience in your vision statement.

Create your vision statement today

Use Ramp’s vision statement generator to create a meaningful vision statement for your company today.

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Finance Writer, Ramp
Richard Moy has written extensively about procurement and vendor management topics for companies like BetterCloud, Stack Overflow, and Ramp. His writing has also appeared in The Muse, Business Insider, Fast Company, Mashable, Lifehacker, and more.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.

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