Tips for crafting your vision statement
A vision statement is what people use to define your business, so it should be well written. It will inform direction and set priorities while challenging employees to grow. But above all, a vision statement must be compelling, not just to the high-level executives of your company, but to all employees.
Often, the hardest part of creating a vision statement is coming up with wording that truly defines your values and shines a light on your corporate identity without sounding too vague.
A vision statement that is specific and unique is a good place to begin to distinguish your business from the rest of the industry.
"Vision statements should demonstrate how the world will be different now that your business is in it," said DeJong.
She believes there needs to be legitimate passion behind a vision statement in order for it to be effective.
"So many leaders play it too safe with their vision, and this is a big mistake when it comes to developing a brand people actually care about," said DeJong.
Based on our expert sources' advice, here's a quick recap of what to keep in mind when formalizing a vision statement that reflects the uniqueness of your organization:
Set your Project five to 10 years in the future.
Dream big and focus on success.Use the present tense.Use clear, concise, jargon-free language.Infuse it with passion and make it inspiring. Align it with your business values and goals.Have a plan to communicate your vision statement to your employees.Be prepared to commit time and resources to the vision you establish.
Your completed vision statement should offer a clear idea of your company's path forward. Honard said that many of her clients have used their vision statements to direct their overall plans for the future. For example, they've adopted new marketing initiatives aimed at moving them closer to their vision, pivoted their focus to clearly reflect their desired outcome or doubled down on one particular aspect of their brand that is working in service of their vision.
Visions don't need to be set in stone
Now that you know all the rules involved in creating a vision statement, there is only one lesson left to learn – sometimes you need to break one or more of the rules in your company's journey to define its own vision.
Many companies benefit from having a vision statement right from inception. Maybe that's not the case for yours. If you have a very young company, know that is perfectly acceptable not to commit to one specific vision from day one.
"Getting too tied into one master statement can really mess with the learning and creation process in the early stages," said Sonia Langlotz, CEO and founder of the marketing and communications collective Round-Twelve. She encourages her clients to write a vision statement every month, save the previous drafts and see what sticks and what doesn't over time.
"After the first year, you can look back and see how much you have evolved. What parts or words within the statement stuck around and what was dropped? Those key words tend to end up being major brand pillars you can always come back to and eventually become part of the brand ethos," explained Langlotz.
Being too tied down to a particular vision statement in the early days of your business may limit your opportunity for growth or blind you to the need for change. "At the end of the day, trust your gut, test and check, look at the analytics, invest in the feedback your customer is giving you.
If you aren't willing to step outside of your initial vision for your business, you might miss a huge opportunity!" said Langlotz.
Regardless of how many years you have been in business or how long you have had your vision statement, it's important to know that you are not stuck with it. Don't be afraid to change it, even if you spent time and money developing it, if it stops feeling right.
DeJong recalls how her agency developed a new vision statement a few years ago that just didn't fit. "While the words sounded beautiful and it seemed accurate, our vision was simply too intangible to lend itself toward a mission that felt real,"
DeJong explained. As a result, she reworked her vision to better align with her brand, and she couldn't be happier.
She said, "Having a tack-sharp, specific vision has helped me and my entire team double down on our efforts, think more creatively, and feel more motivated every single day."
Above all, your vision statement should be a constant reminder to you and your team that the end goal is bigger than the everyday. This message is an important one to hold on to, especially on the most difficult days.
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.