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When is a vision not a vision?

Take a look at your company’s vision (often called mission or purpose). Do you do what you say, do you say what you do, and do you say why you are doing it? Understanding the company’s “why” is vital and well documented, but does your company articulate it, and then demonstrate their belief in it by following through with actions?

In order to better understand if your vision is really a vision, I have constructed a simple “vision scorecard” based upon these 3 questions:

  1. Is your vision or purpose clearly identifiable? At it’s simplest level does it appear on your website in an accessible place, or at least do your investors know what you stand for?

  2. Is your vision conveyed in one sentence? If you need two or three phrases then probably choices have not been made and the company risks mixed messages and objectives.

  3. Is your vision credible and realistic or attainable? Credible is key; attainable, one could argue, depends upon how visionary it is.

In my opinion Unilever is currently best in class; “To make sustainable living commonplace for a better future” is a clear statement of intention, easy to find, credible and attainable in the long term. Most importantly everything they do is moving in that direction with their visionary CEO Paul Polman driving the agenda throughout the organisation. They have purpose, and it’s good for business. (Even this week they have announced the acquisition of sustainable products manufacturer, Seventh Generation).

Google wants to “organise the world’s information and make it accessible and useful” This is more a statement of what they do rather than why they do it. In 2016 this feels like a fact not a purpose.

Tesla wants to “accelerate the worlds transition to sustainable energy” (note they changed it this summer from “sustainable transport” as they focus more on battery tech). This is both credible and attainable, as they want to accelerate, not convert.

More surprising is who doesn’t clearly identify their vision; BMW or Mercedes, what do they stand for? They say they want to be the worlds number 1, or the leading provider…. but these are objectives not purpose. Unless they have purpose and are simply not sharing, I think they could do a lot better.

What about your company, can you answer the 3 key questions above? I would suggest if you fall short on any of the questions then your vision is not really a vision at all.

Articulating a vision or purpose isn’t always easy. At The Branding Authority we have helped brands and companies articulate their purpose. If you would like us to benchmark your company’s vision using our scorecard, let me know - I’ll look at it without any obligation.

Contact me now:

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