Just as a core belief drives an individual entrepreneur forward, cementing their aspirations and actions together, so too does a vision statement embody the long-term future goals of a business.
Therefore, it's important to know how to create one. A good vision statement should be concise, unique, memorable and relatable, utilising composition, imagery and vocabulary.
If you're unsure where to start, then you're in the right place; we've compiled an easy-to-follow, six-step guide to take you through the process. So, if you want to concoct something compelling and engaging, read on: this is how to write a vision statement.
What is a Vision Statement?
Firstly, it's necessary to clarify what precisely a vision statement is. Its primary aim is to inspire employees (rather than consumers) towards achieving the company's long-term goals; it should be motivational, build momentum and excite people, all in just one or two sentences.
This is in contrast to your mission statement, which instead captures the inspiration behind a company's establishment, and is designed more for engaging customers.
As the goals described in a vision statement are not infinite, vision statements can - and should - be updated as those goals are achieved, and other aspirations take their place.
How to Write a Vision Statement
For such a short text, there are many components that contribute to a strong vision statement. They can be summarised within the following six steps:
1. Speak to the Right People
As a vision statement is written primarily for a company's employees, they must have the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding which goals to focus on.
Therefore, you should consult internal stakeholders at various levels within the organisation for feedback on the key themes to be included in the statement, either through one-on-one discussions, group workshops or brainstorming sessions. Different operational groups will offer alternating opinions, and each of these must be considered equally, to ensure that your vision statement will be relatable throughout the business.
As you move forward with crafting your statement, continue to get feedback on keywords and drafted versions from team members who know the business well.
2. Adopt an Aspirational Outlook
Utilising the feedback from your team, you should now focus on the boldest objectives you have collectively associated with your company's medium to long-term strategy. These goals will be used to drive performance, so they should be grand, challenging and inspiring.
Rather than honing in one, small area of the business, you should consider the overall image of success and what this would mean for you, and select the particular targets connected with this.
Determining a definition of success, and identifying tangible goals to achieve it, will act as the basis of your statement.
3. Make it Quantifiable
Once you have determined the foundations, you should develop the measurable aspects of your statement. Define your key objectives in the most quantifiable way possible, by considering the metrics you will be using to track your progress, as well as how your employees will recognise success in this area. A vague vision, incapable of being tracked, will not convey precisely where the business wants to go, or how.
4. Add a Timeline
You have focused your vision by describing its measurable goals and must now do the same with an associated timeline. This means considering when you believe these goals can be achieved by, whether it be two, five or even ten years from now.
Ensure that your selected objectives are achievable within this period, while still retaining the aspirational elements previously considered. After all, an unachievable vision statement will not drive forward development.
This element of chronology will add a heightened sense of strategy to your statement, and allow it to become even more effective in guiding your business' development.
5. Consider your Wording
Now that you have built the concept behind your statement, it is time to carefully select the wording you will use to convey your message in a precise, relatable manner.
To achieve this, there are several factors to consider:
Think about your business' wider industry
Carefully evaluate your industry competitors. Note which words are frequently used in their vision statements and consider how you can improve on this. Ensure that you avoid these commonly used terms, to help you create a statement that will be unique and stand out. Focus instead on what makes your business and its long-term objectives special, and priorities vocabulary that encourages inspiration and motivation.
Use layman's terms
Stay away from technically specific language throughout the composition of your statement. Remove and replace words or phrases that may be considered industry-related jargon. By using layman's terms, you enhance the clarity of your statement and make a more significant impact on readers, overcoming the boundaries of their varying backgrounds.
Ensure that all vocabulary is direct
You want your statement to be memorable and unique – for the right reasons. Be sure to avoid words that could be misinterpreted, have unwanted double meanings, or are considered controversial in any way. You should also omit any religious vocabulary or any culturally specific wording, to mitigate the risk of offending or alienating any portion of your targeted audience.
Make it relatable
Make your vision statement more relatable by humanising its language. Rather than focusing on sales-related performance or other such facets, highlight the more personal aspects of your goals, and the impact that these will have on the lives of your team, customers, users and community. By adopting this approach, more levels of your organisation will understand and buy into your vision.
NASA's vision of the 1960s is a perfect example of this, as their objective to put a man on the moon within ten years was clear enough to be comprehended by adults, children, executives and administrators alike.
6. Keep it Brief
As already noted, a good vision statement should be succinct - the most memorable statements are just one or two sentences long. Don't lose sight of this when brainstorming your key objectives and aspirations.
Edit your statement thoroughly to make sure that there is no repetition, as well as no unnecessary words used to convey your message. This step presents the perfect opportunity to review your vision statement, now in its final form.
Honestly evaluate whether this version meets the original expectations of your company's vision statement. Is it short, unique, memorable and relatable? Run it past your internal stakeholders one last time to confirm that your evaluations match and that they respond to the statement in the way that you had intended.
An incredibly important task, writing a compelling vision statement should involve a great deal of internal consideration, planning and crafting.
As stated, the outcome should provide an accurate picture of your company's medium to long-term goals in just a few short sentences, and have the ability to both empower and guide your employees in achieving these targets.
Much more than just a static piece of text, your vision statement should feed into all communications with employees and stakeholders, consistently reinforcing the common, time-bound goals that you are all working towards. Whether through internal branding or external publication, ensure that your vision is not lost in the day-to-day tasks undertaken by your team.
What are some of your favourite vision statements? Let us know in the comments below.