It’s hard to find a corporate statement that’s grander than a vision. That’s because a vision is a company’s purpose, one that’s hopefully said both succinctly and with style. It answers the question, “Why do we get up in the morning?” A vision is an opportunity to think big. It should inspire and speak to the company’s version of an ideal future—one that’s sustainable for at least five years or more.
If the vision sounds lofty, it’s doing its job; a vision should be the ultimate statement of what a company can achieve while still being grounded in the reality of who it is. Forward thinking and aspirational, a vision should also be memorable. Because ultimately, you want everyone at the company to remember why they’re coming to work. So therefore, the vision should be short—one sentence, if possible. Don’t worry about trying to answer how you’re going to achieve the vision in your vision statement—that’s what a mission statement is for. (Note that some companies use the word “mission” as their grandest statement and use “vision” to explain how they will achieve their mission.)
What follows are five powerful examples of vision statements. Use them to inspire yours.
Life is Good: To spread the power of optimism.
What’s great about this vision statement from Life is Good, an apparel and accessories company? It has nothing to do with apparel and accessories, yet it is grounded in who the company is. It also elevates and inspires, allowing us to understand what the company aspires to do at its highest level. In addition, it’s authentic to the company—they create shirts with optimistic sayings on them, and they also use the vision to guide them in other actions. For example, Life is Good donates 10 percent of their profits to help kids in need, which is another way they are spreading the power of optimism and making their vision not just a vision—but a reality.
Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
*If you have a body, you’re an athlete.
People think of Nike, and they think “Just do it.” But that’s not Nike’s vision, that’s its consumer-facing tagline. But if you look at Nike’s vision, you can see where the tagline comes from. By bringing “inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” Nike encourages people everywhere to “just do it.” So not only is Nike’s vision statement aspirational, you can see how it’s delivered at the consumer level. It’s truly guiding everything Nike does—exactly what a vision should do.
American Express: Provide the world’s best customer experience every day.
American Express’ vision statement could have said something about having the best credit cards in the world. But is creating the best credit card ultimately a reason to get up in the morning? So instead, their vision statement goes beyond their products to speak to what they ultimately achieve to deliver—the best in customer experience—not just once, but every day. It’s a lofty goal, and maybe sometimes they fail with a few customers on some days, but the point of a vision statement is to guide a company to excellence, and this statement, based on the success of American Express, definitely achieves that goal.
IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
This vision statement sounds simple, but this is an example of the kind of simple on the other side of complicated—the kind of simple that is powerful and directional. To create a better everyday life for many people (IKEA is in over 28 countries) is an admirable purpose and one that guides its business strategy, allowing the retailer to deliver on its vision through its affordable, functional, and stylish furniture.
Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
This vision statement’s simplicity combines with its specificity to create a clear and relevant message that inspires and directs. Perfect for guiding internal decision making, you can picture Google employees asking if what they are doing is both accessible and useful. It’s clear that Google’s business efforts and its resulting successes have been guided by this vision for many years.