Real-world vision statements to inspire your own organization's view of success.
A vision statement is a forward-thinking proclamation of where your company wants to be in the future. It’s aspirational and often thought of as a company’s North Star. A vision statement anchors an organization in the NOW, while giving it an ambitious direction forward. This is hard to encapsulate in a brief sentence or two, but critical to your success. To aid you in this effort, we’re going to walk through a few really good vision statement examples.
Your vision is different than your mission, goals, and strategies. Many organizations use these terms interchangeably, but they are distinct and each has its own role to play in guiding strategy. (Read this article and this article for more information on the difference between vision and mission.) A good vision statement has these qualities:
If you hit all these points, your vision statement will generate internal and external buy-in, motivating and inspiring people to rally around what you’re trying to accomplish as a company. It will stand out and have meaning to both employees and customers.
That’s the general concept of a vision statement. To get from theory to the reality of writing your own, here are some sample vision statements to spark some ideas.
1. Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
The vision statements of for-profit companies often describe how they see their place in an ideal world, and Amazon is no different. The statement makes it clear that success is all about the customer in Amazon’s world. The phrasing also includes “find and discover anything,” which is incredibly ambitious and forward-thinking. Today, Amazon is known for providing extremely convenient options and services to customers, which is a manifestation of its vision.
It’s important to note a common pitfall of technology company vision statements: Don’t focus on your features or services, but rather the problems you aim to solve. Remember to keep it creative and aspirational!
2. Alzheimer’s Association: “A world without Alzheimer’s disease.”
The Alzheimer’s Association has one of the most famous nonprofit vision statement examples. It’s short, pithy, and describes an ideal world in aspirational terms. It’s also very easy to communicate and get behind. The sole, direct focus is motivating and inspiring to both staff and donors. Nonprofits are unique because their goal is to generate maximum goodwill rather than revenue, and you’ll see that reflected in the vision statements for this industry.
3. City of Minneapolis: “Minneapolis is a growing and vibrant world-class city with a flourishing economy and a pristine environment, where all people are safe, healthy and have equitable opportunities for success and happiness.”
Any sample vision statement from a municipality should include odes to the community and citizen quality of life. Cities with the best statements highlight parts of the community that distinguish it and are critical to its success. For example, a rural municipality may have agriculture mentioned in its vision statement, while the more urban Minneapolis focuses heavily on the economic growth and cleanliness. The wording around the well-being, equality, and prosperity of citizens is fairly standard for local government vision statements, but Minneapolis phrases it with an eloquent simplicity that makes it easy to communicate.
4. The El Paso Independent School District (EPISD): “The El Paso Independent School District will be a premier educational institution, source of pride and innovation, and the cornerstone of emerging economic opportunities producing a twenty-first century workforce.”
EPISD’s vision is very well written because it focuses not only on the students, but on educational outcomes. The district is clear about wanting to provide a high-quality education that prepares students for the modern job market. For the aspirational aspect, the word “innovation” is key because both students and faculty can rally behind the vision of being on the cutting edge of education—it’s motivational and engaging. Another piece of clever wording is the use of “cornerstone,” because education is often referred to as a foundation or building block.
5. Centric Bank: “We aspire to become the locally owned, independent community bank of choice for small and medium-sized businesses, professionals, and individuals in central Pennsylvania. We will combine steady growth, consistent earnings, and firm control of risk factors to provide safety for our depositors. Our people will be the difference in establishing consistency in earnings and enhanced shareholder value.”
This is a great vision statement example for several reasons. The bank is crystal clear that it wants to be the top choice for a very specific market and area, and then hints at how it intends to accomplish that. The vision also emphasizes the importance of employees, which serves to both empower the internal team and reassure customers about the expertise of the people handling their finances.
Overall, Centric Bank is honest about the work it does. It’s a financial institution, not Disney World—the bank is committed to generating wealth and providing financial security. Banking is a sober-eyed industry, and the feelings that should arise from a financial institution’s vision statement are very different than those provoked by a school or nonprofit’s statement.
Vision statements are important because they map out your organization’s grand plan and give your team a sense of purpose. Remember—vision and mission statements are similar, but very different. We’ll explain more in our next two articles, so stay tuned.
RJ drives new business for ClearPoint, guiding prospective clients through the sales process.