Updated: Oct 17, 2019
What is it to be inspired to action?
How do you motivate people? For groups of people to travel to a destination. To collectively choose to be part of something. To believe in something bigger than what they can see with their eyes? To buy a product and join a brand?
It turns out that we as humans need some sort of mental picture of these literal physical or emotional destinations. We need to a picture of something in our minds of the thing that does not yet exist. The end benefit. The end emotion. The idea of how things should and will be. This gives us purpose. Something to aim towards. Something to help us through the changes of life. Something to hold onto.
In the Bible there is a wise proverb which states:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”
The idea of this proverb is that with no vision of where you are going, what to believe in and a mental picture of how to get there, the people will lose their way. How true this is.
In his international best selling self improvement book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen. R. Covey’s second habit is “Begin with the end in mind”.
He explains this idea as follows:
“Begin with the end in mind is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things”
In other words, one has to imagine the solution to a problem. There has to be an imaginary ‘vision’ of the world a brand is seeking to achieve. This is created mentally before people can join this idea and help make it become a reality.
Business coach, Simon Sinek, has a classic TED Talk and has written a book on this subject called “Start with Why”. In his book he states:
“People don’t by what you do, they buy WHY you do it”
He explains that communicating WHY we do things is what emotionally connects us with others who believe what we believe.
Vision helps motivate at scale
When a business is small, a brand vision is usually loosely held by its leadership team. It often resides in the leader's hearts and minds. They passionately make business decisions through its lens. Often they don't need to write it down. It's implicit.
If the business grows though there eventually becomes a need for this vision to be articulated - both within the business but also to staff. When the leaders no longer know everyone by name and when they no longer hire people systems and frameworks need to be built and unless these stem from a defined vision you may find that the business grows in a schizophrenic way.
To scale, you need mental models to motivate people to action. Initially within an organisation but also for customers. Businesses need direction. A big idea. A purpose. A vision.
A vision becomes the heart and soul of everything. From this other frameworks can be hung. A brand voice and personality. Decisions around how the brand looks and feels. It's messaging. Its reason to exist, who it serves and why they should care. The values it stands for. The behaviours that are expected of its people. The partnerships it makes. Where it sources materials from. How it's products are sold. The experiences it offers to customers.
Purpose stems from the brand vision
Without everything linking back to a core idea, people become detached. Things sometimes seem pointless. Staff become unmotivated. Customers get a poor experience which does not meet their expectations.
Having a clear vision and then ensuring these other decisions and mental frameworks stem from it allow businesses to motivate at scale. Everything falls into place. They make sense to staff and customers. It makes it easier to lead. Suddenly everything becomes more purposeful and meaningful.
Brand vision statements
There are typically three types of vision statement - ones that focus on:
Belief - an ideology for which the brand stands for
Passion - something the brand and its followers are passionate about
Cause - a problem or obstacle which needs to be overcome
In his brilliant book “Traction”, Gino Wickman has a whole segment of his ‘Entrepreneurial Operating System’ (EOS) dedicated to “Vision”. He suggests that the following eight points should be checked off:
It’s stated in three to seven words
It’s written in simple language
It’s big and bold
It has an ‘aha’ effect
It comes from the heart
It involved everyone
It’s not about money
It’s bigger than a goal
However you do it, it is crucial to have a brand ‘vision’ which is defined and understood by your team. These eternal principles of vision and purpose are a crucial foundational element to branding. To manage the meaning people attach to a brand it must know why it exists. It must have a vision for the world it operates in and it must be able to articulate this if it wants customers and staff to become loyal to it and become passionate for it. It has purpose.
Examples of brand vision statements
Brand visions are usually big hairy ideas. They seek to be aspirational. Almost out of reach. They often include statements about "mankind" or the "world". They give both staff and customers something to believe in and head towards. They are the reason a business exists beyond making money.
Here are a few examples:
“To be earth’s most customer-centric company in the world” Amazon
“A world without Alzheimer’s disease.” Alzheimer Association
“Make the world more open and connected” Facebook
“To organize the world’s information” Google
“Create a better everyday life” Ikea
“Accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” Tesla
"Improving Every Life" 3M
"A computer on every desk and in every home." Microsoft (at its founding)
"Capture and share the world’s moments." Instagram
"Imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge." Wikipedia
writing your brand vision statement
All vision statements should be different and personal to the leadership of a business. A great way to do this is to get your leaders in a room to thrash this out. To get the ideas out of their head and defined for use. This sounds simple but can be tricky, especially fi the leaders have differing ideas around this.
Try to collectively finish one of the following statements:
"We exist because..."
“We believe that...”
“Our purpose is to...”
“We envisage a world where...”
"... is the reason why we exist"
Once you've written your statement review it in the light of Wickman's criteria outlined above. Look to simply it. Check it's authentic. Ask if it's distinctive. Ask if it makes you different. Ensure your leaders can get behind it. That it encapsulates your "why".
Then look to live it in everything you do. Tie everything back to it. If something doesn't fit, get rid of that thing. It will make no sense to your staff to keep it and it will not help give customers a consistent experience.
Vision brings focus
When you boil it down, a brand vision brings a focus on meaning and purpose. If there is one thing we need in this busy world of ours its focus. There are so many distractions and noise. Let’s focus.