A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it’s an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more. – Rosabeth Moss Kanter.
Here we are. The final story of our 5 Stories brand-building series. We’ve covered Empathy. We’ve discussed Purpose. Basked in the beauty of your Origin. And we’ve shared the power of Product.
Today, for our fifth and final instalment, it’s all about your Vision. We’ve helped you understand who you are. Now it’s time to share where you’re heading.
Your Vision Story is the future you’re creating for your customers. It’s the art of everything you do today contributing to a better tomorrow. It’s the thing that not only gets you up in the morning, but keeps you going after the toughest of days.
In recent years, businesses have become OBSESSED with creating mission statements. The kicker? Most mission statements say a lot without saying much at all.
Every business wants to be the best.
Every business wants to be number one.
Every business wants to beat their competitors.
But to become a brand, not just a business, you need to have a Vision Story that can only belong to you, your customers and the world you’re building.
You need to connect with what Starbucks’ Marketing Director Scott Bedbury calls “the fundamental human appreciation of mythology”.
Here’s to your future. Let’s go tell it.
“We can’t be bothered with strategy – we just tell stories.” – Anita Roddick
Maybe you’re presenting to investors. Perhaps you’re sharing a company update with your team. Whatever the audience, go macro to find true meaning.
When telling your Vision Story, you need to start by contextualising what comes next. Break past the boring barriers to initial engagement and start with a problem that directly affects whoever is listening, wherever they may be.
In practical terms, this means naming a big, relevant change that’s needed in your customer’s world – and how your brand is working to help solve it.
Ways we’ve done this for clients in the past include short internal videos, punchy paragraphs for an ‘about’ page or a campaign-led visual that summarises the problem in a single sentence.
Here are a few sentence openers to provoke some thoughts for your Vision Story:
What big, global problem is your brand helping solve and why should your audience care about it?
Good work. You’ve identified the problem you’re solving to build a better world. Now, it’s time to simplify it even further.
Airbnb is in the business of belonging. Disney is all about happiness. Zappos’s vision is delightful service.
Noticing a pattern here? The best Vision Stories aren’t about your product offering. They’re about your aspiration for a better world, in as few words as possible.
Keeping it simple means making it memorable.
“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Einstein
At Make Us Care, one of our FAVOURITE communication rules is inspired by this Einstein quote. Telling your story in the simplest, clearest way possible forces you to make it better.
Terms like “shareholder value” or overly complicated data points have no place here.
Instead, you need to make your Vision Story child-proof, so every person can understand it and get behind it.
Start by testing your Vision Story with a child. Interesting, invaluable feedback guaranteed.
“If nobody knows what the vision is, then employees have nothing to serve but themselves.” – Donald Miller
Startup life is busy at the best of times. Your to-do list is longer than the M25 and coming up for air and talking vision is a luxury. We get it.
But when was the last time you took a moment to check in with your team’s understanding of your business?
If your team can’t simply answer the ‘what do you do?’ question, you don’t have a real team. Everyone needs to be able to articulate and reinforce the same common vision.
As leaders, we have a tendency to make things super complicated for our teams because our brains are busy. But embarking on a Vision Story exercise is about trimming the fat and bringing clarity to you, to your team and to your customers.
Once you’ve drafted your Vision Story, share it with your team and get their feedback. It may be the smartest investment you make in employee motivation.
“Nobody’s built like you, design yourself.” – Jay Z
So, you’ve got your Vision Story, your team have got behind it and your customers are buying into it. This is an amazing place to be.
Now, your only job is to keep checking in with it because, as the world changes, so will your brand’s vision.
To keep brand clarity and employee motivation at its peak, it pays to reconnect with your Vision Story on a regular basis. Ask yourself:
It’s easy to think that brand storytelling’s purpose is to tell your past and present.
The secret to writing your best Vision Story is to keep inventing a more successful future.