If your brand values shape the day-to-day behaviour of your business and your brand mission shapes how you measure success on a month-to-month basis, then the vision for the brand is the year-to-year guide.
Creating a vision for your brand should be pretty straightforward on the face of it. Deﬁne what your brand does best, understand the endpoint you would love to reach and then create an easy to remember and concise phrase that you can rally around.
Your vision should be just out of reach, something that's ever so slightly unattainable but that stretches you as a business. The non-profit sector is good at this. Save the Children's vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Is that realistic? Maybe not? Is it worth going for? Fuck, yes.
But your vision doesn't need to be so lofty; it needs to ﬁt with the business you're in. Take Good's vision, for example:
To make brands and branding better understood, respected and valued.
Will we ever make brands understood, respected and valued? Probably not; there is always a naysayer. But that's the vision we aspire to, that we want to achieve with and for our clients.
Altogether, our mission and values guide us on how to achieve our vision. It's a perfect pyramid that is the North Star for your brand.
As I said, this all seems pretty straightforward. But there are still pitfalls that we've seen brands fall into. The big one is creating the "Buzz Lightyear" vision statement. You know, something that is shouted out with energy, gusto and conviction but on closer scrutiny says nothing. To inﬁnity and beyond! Here's some examples
- "Tomorrow, together."
- "Better, Different."
- "Building tomorrow, today."
- "Imagine, better."
- "Spread the power of optimism."
These are not visions; they're taglines. And even then, they're woolly nonsense. They are trying to be Braveheart-esque rallying cries, jaunty jingles intended to be pithy and inspiring. They'll look great on a slide at the annual company meeting, but they lose relevance and meaning the very next day. What are we imagining? Why is it better? What would we do that? How do I do that? If it needs to be explained, it will have a one-way ticket to the drawer that it will live in until it's dusted off for the next annual company meeting.
Think hard about your vision; it's a motivator that should be speciﬁc for your brand and be helpful to your customers. Although it may not be public-facing, it can manifest in a number of ways. For example, Sky's vision (they call it a purpose, whatever, welcome to the branding terminology multiverse) reads:
To bring better content and innovation to all of our customers, better connecting them to more of what they love.
And this is communicated outwardly to customers as "Believe in Better". This isn't the vision; it's a campaignable asset that comes from the vision. It may sound like a Buzz Lightyear vision, but Believe in Better isn't the vision; it's a tagline for a campaign that comes from the vision. The hierarchy of communication is understood and adhered to.
Your vision is essential; it's the tip of the branding spear - the top of the shiny brand pyramid. So go beyond a tagline and make sure you create a powerful, descriptive motivator that helps deﬁne and add meaningful value to your business.