RST Software
Editorial Team
Ross Krawczyk
Reviewed by a tech expert

What is a product vision statement and why your startup will fail without one

Read this articles in:

Great visions make great organizations. It may sound generic, but take the top 20 tech companies worldwide, and you will see that there is a clear vision statement behind each success. A visionary leader or founder is an advantage, but a meaningful and memorable product vision can be crafted without one.

Lucidity analyzed over 1000 vision statements. The collected data reveals that the most common word is “world”, followed by “people”, followed by “customers”. The best statements are one sentence. The average vision statement is 17 words. However, statistics will never replace good insights and strategic planning.

In this article, we will discuss what makes a good statement and why product vision is a crucial element to outlining the long-term direction of your startup.

What is a product vision statement?

A product vision or product vision statement is a clear, condensed, bold declaration that defines the long-term, fundamental vision of your product. It is an ambitious destination point on the project map for all individuals and stakeholders involved in the development process. It should remind you of what brought you together and what you want to achieve.

The product vision statement is where it all begins. From there, the team will determine how to break down the vision into actionable goals, keeping the overarching purpose in mind throughout the whole process.

Why is product vision important?

In today’s world, a precise, coherent and motivational product vision is all that matters. It is a necessity for successful product development and has a literal impact on everything, from developing a roadmap to improving strategic decision-making. Customers, stakeholders, and employees can use a product vision statement to understand the product’s purpose and value proposition. Finally, it helps build a scalable and sustainable business model.

Without vision, your product loses direction, teams lose guidance, and you lose sight of your target, leading to a product that fails. A lack of a statement often results in inconsistent decision-making. Your company may miss opportunities to create innovations that fill in market gaps, eventually hampering long-term success.

What makes a good product vision statement?

There are seven ingredients in a well-crafted product vision statement.

  1. Clarity: Stakeholders should be able to understand the statement without being confused by technical language.
  2. Inspiration: The concept should inspire enthusiasm and motivate the team, so that the product’s potential is seen as a shared goal.
  3. Perspective: A product vision statement looks beyond immediate features and functions to the long-term goal.
  4. Customer-centricity: The vision should describe how the product will address pain points and improve the quality of life for your target customers.
  5. Feasibility: While it should comprise an aspirational component, the statement must be rational and achievable, taking into consideration the company’s potential, team resources, market context, etc.
  6. Alignment with company goals: Product vision statements should be in alignment with the broader goals of the company.
  7. Flexibility: Although the vision provides a direction, it should still allow for flexibility in adapting to market changes, customer feedback, and emerging opportunities.

Product vision ≠ company vision

Product vision and company vision play different roles in guiding an organization, even though they are related. The former outlines a long-term direction for the specific product and communicates target coordinates to the team.

The latter, on the other hand, is more customer-centric and defines the organization’s general vision, values, and strategy with respect to all products and services. In this sense, company vision might be too broad to serve as appealing guidance for your product.

Product vision ≠ product strategy

The vision is a long-term, motivational statement defining the intended final product, while the strategy outlines how that vision will be executed. In other words, if the product vision provides the “what” and “why,” then the product strategy answers “how.”

It is a detailed plan of shorter-term actions related to product features, finance, resource allocation, pricing, distribution, marketing, etc. While vision is usually made public, product strategy is more of an internal document.

Both vision and strategy are essential for the development of a successful product.

8 examples of product vision statements

Google’s vision statement

If you wanted to write the vision statement of the number 1 search engine worldwide, what would it be? “To provide access to the world’s information in one click”? Congratulations, you have just come up with the actual statement.

This proves that the wording of the vision does not have to be as groundbreaking as the invention of the wheel, light bulb, or 24/7 video streaming platforms. But it has to be clear, condense and motivational.

Since it was founded in 1998, Google has been improving algorithms to organize data, providing people with easier access to what they are searching for. Indexing websites and maintaining databases of the resulting data fulfills the company’s “world of information” promise. Google uses its own web crawling technique, which indexes all content available on the Internet: articles, images, videos, documents, etc.

As for “accessibility,” Google provides everyone with access to any (licit and authorized) information from any place on Earth. Probably from Earth’s orbit, too. In other words, you have everything you need at your fingertips. And this brings us metaphorically to the “one click” component. By prioritizing using a PageRank algorithm, Google delivers quality results and outstanding user experience in one simple finger motion.

Obviously, Google is way more than just a search engine. It also offers Chrome, Gmail, Maps, Home, Meets, and many other apps you cannot imagine living without. But there is no denying that they all provide access to all sorts of information.

Uber’s vision statement

Accessible and dependable transportation for all is in the DNA of Uber’s mission.

But getting from point A to point B is not enough for the company’s ambitious team.

The Uber vision goes farther: “We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.” Through its product statement, the company intends to spark possibilities throughout the world by facilitating worldwide mobility. The ultimate aim of the company is to create a platform that enables its users to experience freedom of movement, in both a physical and metaphorical sense.

By connecting the real and digital worlds, Uber helps movement happen. Its purpose is to link individuals, opportunities and relationships, and to influence people’s lives in a variety of ways beyond transportation. In order to achieve this, the company wants to develop connections between cities, businesses, and people through groundbreaking services like ride-sharing and food delivery. In this way, the company enhances accessibility to essential amenities and reduces reliance on traditional transportation systems.

On the organizational level, they strive to create a work environment that fosters creativity and collaboration, empowering employees to think innovatively about the common goal and move forward with new ideas.

Uber’s CEO – Dara Khosrowshahi – admits that they are still barely scratching the surface when it comes to huge industries like food and logistics, and how the future of urban mobility will reshape cities for the better. But we can assume that Uber has the ambition to lead global logistics and transportation services.

Visit the Uber website and read what they write about themselves to fully understand their product vision statement: “We reimagine the way the world moves for the better. Movement is what we power (...). It pushes us to constantly reimagine how we can move better. For you. For all the places you want to go. For all the things you want to get. For all the ways you want to earn. Across the entire world. In real time. At the incredible speed of now.”

Airbnb’s vision statement

Interestingly enough, this vision statement is an abbreviated form of its mission statement. “To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere” becomes “belong anywhere” and could also be a powerful advertising claim.

It all started in 2007 with two hosts welcoming three visitors in San Francisco and has already served over 1.4 billion guests. It has radically changed the way people travel, do business or manage a side hustle, all thanks to Airbnb’s core value: hospitality.

 “Belong anywhere” is a call to adventure. It inspires customers to learn about new places, local cultures and cuisines. It tempts users to shake off civilization and lead a freer life as our nomad ancestors did. But most of all, it is an invitation from a local host to visit their home and this is really something. For a stranger to give you access to their property requires a deeper level of trust.

LinkedIn’s vision statement

Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn is very pragmatic and focused on the financial aspect of users’ lives. “Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce” is a solid product vision statement. The core objective is to create opportunities for profit – both for individuals and companies.

The name is derived from its ability to link users. In theory, each LinkedIn member represents professional, financial or educational potential. Since each member has their own network of connections, these individual potentials accumulate, creating a world of new economic opportunities.

LinkedIn describes itself as the world’s largest professional online network. It can be used to find a job or an internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and teach skills required for success. Its egalitarian character makes it available to all participants of the workforce ecosystem at all stages of their professional development, from students and jobseekers to recruiters, as well as junior multilevel marketing distributors to medium-sized business owners and CEOs of global consulting companies.

Apple’s product vision statement

Do you remember when Bill Gates announced the first iPhone in 2007 – a device that combines a phone, a computer, a camera, and many other useful accessories? Well, that was something. It unquestionably started a revolution in mobile communications and from that moment on, the prefix “smart-” was glued to the word “phone” for good.

But the iPhone premiere was not an isolated incident in Apple’s history. Do you recall the fuss surrounding the first unveiling of new generation iMacs, MacBooks, iPods, iPads, AirPods, or Apple Watches? With the launch of new Apple products, new markets, new industries, and new habits are born.

Some of us may not have liked Apple killing the floppy disk or headphone jack (which, consequently, others did too)… But progress always calls for sacrifice, and are we really at a disadvantage with AirDrop, AirPods, Siri, wireless charging and other exciting technologies?

This is how we get to Apple’s actual product vision statement: “to make the best products on Earth and to leave the world better than we found it.” It makes sense now, doesn’t it? Steve Jobs and Tim Cook’s leadership may be motivating, but with a commitment this strong, product teams can move mountains.

Facebook / Meta vision statement

To understand Meta’s vision, you need to understand the metaverse concept.

Many believe it to be the next iteration of the Internet, an evolution of the cyberspace as we know it. The term refers to a digital universe where users can interact with each other, objects, brands, etc. in real time. With its mission still purely interpersonal, Meta wants to develop a virtual reality that can be accessed through a number of devices, including smartphones, computers, VR headsets, etc.

The Meta vision statement is neither clear nor concise: “To bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.” It reveals, however, the scale of Zuckerberg’s ambition, which clearly exceeds current social media, networking and messaging services. With its rebranding in 2021, the goal became obvious – Facebook intends to become the internet of the future: the metaverse.

Since October 2021, when Zuckerberg announced his new idea, enough time has passed to reevaluate this “revolution.” Billions of dollars have been invested in what looks like Minecraft and is less useful than Zoom or Teams. Zuckerberg remains conspicuously silent. The future of the metaverse is uncertain and so is its product statement…

Well, not all visions are meant to last forever.

Twitter vision statement (or maybe we should say “X vision statement”…)

Twitter’s statement is not explicitly published. Some sources suggest that Twitter’s vision is “to be the world’s most diverse and inclusive company.” If true, this is the most generic, yet noble statement of all. Twitter claims that everyone has an equal right to share opinions and participate in public debate. Inclusion and diversity have been its core values on an organizational level for years.

At the time of writing, the fate of Twitter’s product statement became unknown, however. A couple of days before, Elon Musk decided to scrap its legendary bird logo and use an ambiguous X instead. Let us hope that at least its product vision remains.

Amazon’s vision statement

The last example of a vision statement is Amazon’s “to become Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” While its mission is customer-centric and refers to low-price, convenient e-commerce, Amazon’s product vision statement is all about employee well-being and safety.

Obviously, the Amazon vision communicates about its scale, but also acknowledges the crucial role its staff plays in achieving the company’s global success, placing strong emphasis on employee satisfaction through numerous initiatives: benefits packages, flexible working hours, performance bonuses, diverse teams, medical insurance, retirement plans, and more.

Product vision template

Your startup idea might have started on a piece of paper, and so can your vision statement. Just draw a table with four columns.

  1. The first column should be covering your target audience and answer which market your product addresses and who your target users are.
  2. The second column defines needs. What problems does the product solve? Which benefits does it provide?
  3. The third refers to the product itself. What is it? What makes it different? Is it even feasible? 
  4. The last column is for your business goals.
  5. The row above the columns is the perfect place for your new epic product vision statement.

Defining your product vision with RST Software

Building a product vision statement that has the potential to last, provides a direction for all your activities, and becomes a North Star for all teams and stakeholders is challenging, especially for those involved in development. If you need a partner to provide a helicopter perspective on your product and guide you through the process, feel free to contact us.

Share your ideas and goals with our interdisciplinary team during RST product workshop sessions. Together, we will come up with a long-lasting and memorable vision statement for your product.

People also ask

No items found.
Want more posts from the author?
Read more

Want to read more?

CEO Corner

Top Business Intelligence tools - free 2024 comparison

Explore the best free business intelligence tools for 2024. Compare features and functionalities to make informed choices.
CEO Corner

How to pick a data analytics consultancy? Practical tips

Unlock practical tips for selecting the right data analytics consultancy. Make informed decisions to drive data-driven success.
CEO Corner

The data stack you’ll need to build a versatile modern data platform in 2024

Discover the essential components of the modern data stack for building a robust data platform in 2024. Stay ahead in data management.
No results found.
There are no results with this criteria. Try changing your search.