Crafting a company vision statement is an important step when starting a new business. A long term outlay of where your company is headed, a vision statement isn't concerned with the end of the next fiscal year, or even the following five. Essentially, it is a visualisation of the pathway that your company will create.
Admittedly, that may sound a little philosophical for a business document, so instead picture your vision statement as a supporting partner to your mission statement. If a mission statement tells employees, investors and outside entities what you are going to do and how you will do it, a vision statement is designed to explain why.
Despite being an aspirational document, your vision statement still has a real impact on your company's day-to-day decisions, too. Every decision you make as a business leader should be taken with your original vision in mind, so let's look at some examples of the best company vision statements to help illustrate how they define the organisations they represent.
Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
One of the world's leading sportswear brands, Nike's vision statement affirms the elite nature of their products. Relating terms such as "innovation" and "inspiration" to athletic pursuits establishes the kind of tone that consumers expect from Nike. Likewise, ending the statement with the phrase "in the world" aligns with the company's standing as an international organisation.
The asterisk is perhaps the most interesting part of this vision statement, though. An unexpected inclusion in something that is designed to be succinct, it democratises Nike's reach, with company co-founder Bill Bowerman allegedly asserting that "if you have a body, you are an athlete". Thus, everyone – regardless of age, size, background or ability – is part of Nike's goal. This reinforces the message that it isn't just the world's best competitors that deserve Nike's "inspiration and innovation" – we all do.
A world without Alzheimer's disease.
Corporations aren't the only ones with global goals. The Alzheimer's Association's vision statement describes a world that is fundamentally different from ours – a world where the debilitating, degenerative disease no longer exits.
This vision statement is powerful because it skips the explanation of action that we expect from an organisation that provides health care solutions. There is no mention of how they will meet this goal. It simply states that their organisation will not be happy with anything less than the complete eradication of Alzheimer's disease.
Another element that makes it so impactful is that it dares to imagine a world where the non-profit itself would cease to exist. This isn't a recommended strategy for most organisations when writing a vision statement, but in this instance, its power cannot be denied.
To become the world's most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.
Southwest Air's vision statement is effective because it encompasses all the actions that create value for the company.
A significant priority for Southwest Air is customer service, which is why it places "most loved" as the first action item in its vision statement. However, this is a metric that is hard to quantify. The next goal - "most flown" - is all about growth and becoming the largest and most dominant force in the industry: a more straightforward target to work towards.
Finally, however, the vision statement swings back around, with a goal that is not only universal amongst corporations but also implies improvement and development. "Most profitable" is a goal that can be understood by employees of all levels and is a guiding principle for why Southwest Air does business.
To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.
This vision statement actually does what most vision statements strive to avoid: providing a specific, achievable goal.
That goal, to make every customer smile, may not be easy to achieve, but it is relevant because it functions as a guiding principle. That principle can be applied to everyone in the company, from management down to individual employees.
The statement is also effective because it includes actionable items that read off like bullet points. Outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value are all major priorities for any foodservice establishment, and they are listed concisely here in a simple, understandable way that helps communicate the business's goals.
We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. We also believe that everyone has the right to see.
This low-cost eyewear company delivers a vison statement that promises more than it appears to at first glance.
The first sentence describes how the process of purchasing glasses from Warby Parker should be – easy and fun. This sets a clear tone for what you can expect from your experience, and what employees should strive to provide.
Next, it provides a mindset that you can expect after your interaction with the company – happy, looking good and not feeling like you emptied your bank account for your purchase.
It is in the last sentence however, that Warby Parker communicates the crux of their goals. In describing their belief that everyone has the right to see, they make the message global. The company is able to describe the efforts for social change they have achieved by providing underserved communities with access to corrective eyewear; a simple but very effective vision statement from a company dedicated to change.
To create a better everyday life for the many people.
This simple vision statement underlines the core values of IKEA as a company and explains the breadth of its reach.
By offering low-cost furniture and home products, IKEA is dedicated to improving the experience individuals enjoy each day. The description of its audience as the "many people" describes its desire to connect with the maximum amount of people, with a reach that can be continually expanded.
This is an excellent example of an easy to remember and easy to implement vision statement. It helps sell IKEA's values and goals and is a functional principle for employees to keep in mind.
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Patagonia's strengths lie in its well-made, professional products and commitment to utilising those products to solve one of the pressing issues of our age – environmental degradation.
The outdoor apparel that Patagonia offers is tied to the brand's commitment to ecological responsibility; therefore, this vision statement not only reinforces the company's identity as a purveyor of high-quality goods but also their commitment to using materials that do no undue damage to the environment. The statement then further connects these practices to a higher, global goal – helping to find a solution to the environmental crisis.
The careful word placement, message building and brand management contained in each of these vision statements is what makes them such good examples. By emphasising and reinforcing their messages with positive language, they provide a clear indicator of what their design is all about.
What other vision statements inspire you? Let us know your favourites in the comment section below.