Companies come in various shapes and entrepreneurial dreams come in various sizes.
Regardless, the problems that arrive after their inception are always the same.
Having an idea for the product is the easiest part.
And if you thought that securing capital or hiring talent were difficult, you are mistaken.
Once you are in, you realize that you have to constantly convince and motivate everyone, from stakeholders to customers.
How do you do this effectively?
By bringing in clarity into every aspect of the product’s development.
Product vision and product mission statements can help you do that.
What is product vision?
Your product vision statement sums up everything that you imagine your product should accomplish.
Bringing the reasons behind creating the product to the forefront, a product vision statement combines purposefulness with aspirations. This covers:
- The ways in which the product satisfies customers
- The ambitions it has for the market and the industry
Meaning, it is grounded by the users’ needs while being propelled by personal ambitions, be it wanting to innovate or come out as a winner in the market.
The product vision statement is always long-term in nature and is a powerful tool for aligning every stakeholder and framing strategies.
Product vision statement and the market
A product vision statement that addresses actual market gaps while being strung by personal motivations acts as a source of inspiration for everyone.
Your stakeholders perform better when they are brought together by a common purpose.
Customers start looking beyond the product to see you as a brand that intends to deliver value to them.
Ultimately, it informs everyone that your product is in the market to not just make profits, but elevate the human experience in some way.
Look at Teach for America’s product vision statement for instance: “One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”
It establishes their stance as an organization that is working to make the world a better place.
How does a product vision statement help?
Align everyone in the organization
With so many people working under and along you, you would need to effectively manage and delegate.
A product vision statement allows you to do exactly that.
After their initial orientation, all you’d need to do is give them the statement and its context.
Then onward, in every meeting, you reiterate your product vision to calibrate everyone toward the important stuff.
People come from different backgrounds, and a singular product vision unites them to work toward a common goal.
Better product roadmaps
When everyone is on the same page, it helps you and other senior team members to directly take a top-down approach.
You can start off with a high-level vision statement and then break it down into a strategic guide and action plan—the product roadmap.
This brings in a sense of uniformity between all levels of tasks and leaves no room for misunderstanding.
As you research the market and get feedback from your users, there would be a ton of new ideas and initiatives being generated.
Deciding which to pursue would hardly be an issue.
The product vision statement acts as a compass, allowing you and other stakeholders to clearly see what would deliver the maximum value and bring you closer to your ambitions.
Examples of product vision statements
- Creative Commons: Realizing the full potential of the internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.
- Disney: To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.
- Facebook: Connect with friends and the world around you on Facebook.
- sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
- JetBlue: To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.
- Workday: To put people at the center of enterprise software.
What is product mission?
While the product vision statement is all about aspirations and bringing people together, the product mission statement specializes in actions and bringing all tasks together.
To be simpler: The product vision is the ‘what’ and the product mission is the ‘why’.
Let’s contrast between Microsoft’s product vision at its founding and Warby Parker’s product mission.
- A computer on every desk and in every home.
- To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
Microsoft talks about what it wants to do, while Warby Parker (also) tells us why and how it is going to proceed.
The lines between product vision and product mission statements are generally blurry because:
- Most companies tend to merge the what-s and the why-s in a single statement
- Others generally do not have any statement until way later
- Reasons and aspirations are two sides of the same coin
Regardless, keeping product vision and product mission separate has its advantages.
Product Mission makes your organization agile
The product vision statement tells your employees and stakeholders about why you want to build a product.
This in itself is not always a strong driver for them to buy in.
With the product mission, you give them concrete reasons that inform them why they should work with you.
Consider Hulu’s Mission: To help people find and enjoy the world’s premium video content when, where and how they want it. It has a vision — ‘world’s premium video content’, that is grounded by its mission — “when, where and how they want it”
With a clear distinction, it becomes easier for everyone within your organization to have conversations about the product. They also get a glimpse of what effective results would look like.
The product mission statement also helps speeden brainstorming and iterations.
Anything that needs to be tweaked, shifted, or rethought, like a marketing strategy would not need another long meeting, as the product mission statement would clearly state the criteria.
Examples of product mission statements
- InvisionApp: Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.
- Cradles to Crayons: Provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play.
- Universal Health Services, Inc.: To provide superior quality healthcare services that: PATIENTS recommend to family and friends, PHYSICIANS prefer for their patients, PURCHASERS select for their clients, EMPLOYEES are proud of, and INVESTORS seek for long-term returns.
- Invisible Children: To end violence and exploitation facing our world’s most isolated and vulnerable communities.
Product Vision versus Product Mission
Qualities of a good product vision statement
Rooted in the target audience’s needs
Whatever your inner motivations are for building a product as an entrepreneur, they all mean nothing in the face of the customer’s needs.
Because you are just the one who builds the product, whereas they are the ones who would use it every day.
Their needs triumph yours, always.
Here is a template that would help you frame your preliminary product vision statement:
This means clearly identifying what would make your users happy and working toward making those happen.
Knowing that it is not about you
This relates to the previous pointer. You make the product and your users experience it, but there are so many other things that you end up influencing.
For example: the economy, the environment, the condition of workers, etc.
Taking an active stance against any kind of exploitative strategy is also something that your product vision statement should do.
Look at the following:
- Tesla: ‘To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.’
- Paypal: ‘That every person has the right to participate fully in the global economy, and that we have an obligation to empower people to exercise this right and improve financial health.’
Sure, they are in the business to build world-class products, but they also ensure that they improve and elevate others as well.
Using the right words for the maximum effect
The ideal product vision, as Roman Pichler puts it, should be:
- Short and Sweet: Unless it is easy to communicate, it is pointless. It should be just the right size— short enough to be conveyed fast and detailed enough to inspire imagination.
- Clear and concise: Putting down words that just fill the space for no reason are useless. Words like ‘great’, ‘unique’, and ‘powerful’ are too generic to give any actual meaning.
- Patagonia: ‘We’re in business to save our home planet.’ Was previously: ‘Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’
- Prezi: To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act.
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
- TED: Spread ideas.
Product vision and mission statements most often can make or break an organization.
This is because passionate people are more driven by purpose rather than money.
Plus, there is always a ceiling to how much one can be compensated.
But, there is no endpoint to everything that can be done for the greater good.
Unless you make use of these, it’d be hard to have your employees feel connected to each other or the product that they are building.
This lack of personal connection always affects productivity.
Don’t let that happen. Start framing your product vision statement right away.