What is a product vision statement?
A product vision, or product vision statement, describes the overarching long-term mission of your product. Vision statements are aspirational and communicate concisely where the product hopes to go and what it hopes to achieve in the long term.
The statement should serve as a guide and reminder to all stakeholders involved in a product’s development (the product team, development, the executive staff, marketing, etc.) about the shared objective they’re trying to achieve with this product.
Your vision statement should also answer the question of why you are creating a product and what your company hopes to accomplish with it in the future. As an example, Google’s vision statement is to “provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
Why is product vision important?
To understand the importance of having a vision statement, consider how difficult it would be to develop a strategically sound product without one. How would that product team know where to focus its resources, which features to prioritize, which markets to target? On what strategic basis would they make decisions and set priorities?
1. It helps you develop a better product roadmap.
Creating a vision allows your team to take a top-down approach to your product’s development. In other words, you begin with a high-level vision statement, then translate that vision into a strategic guide and action plan—the product roadmap. Then, you can translate that roadmap’s strategic overview into a tactical development plan.
Drafting a vision statement should be your team’s first step in starting any new product’s journey—and it always should come before you begin working on the product roadmap.
2. It improves your strategic decision-making throughout the development process.
Another reason a product vision can aid in your development is that it can help you more quickly and easily identify initiatives worth pursuing.
Think of your product vision statement as a compass that you can consult whenever your team is faced with conflicting priorities or lack of direction.
3. It will help you align teams and stakeholders across the company.
Finally, a product vision statement can also add value by making it easier for your team to clearly articulate the high-level goal driving your product’s development. This can help align the various groups and departments across your company that will be working on your product. With a shared vision, everyone always has a true north to refer back to, which can help remind them of why they’re doing what they’re doing.
In our free book Product Roadmaps, we quote Airbnb’s director of product management, Ian McAllister, explaining why having a product vision is so important: “Clearly explain why your product exists and your approach to running it. This could be a mission statement, tenets, or principles. The important thing is that you believe in them, and by pinning them at the top of every roadmap it will be clear if what follows in the roadmap doesn’t match your principles.”
Who is responsible for defining the product vision?
The answer to this question is everyone in the company. The product vision, remember, should influence how everyone throughout the organization performs their jobs. With this in mind, insights or inspiration for a statement can and should come from anywhere within the company—and the product team should actively solicit input from all.
As a practical matter, though, the product manager should take the lead on driving the product vision statement to completion and then making sure everyone in the organization knows it.
Examples of real-world vision statements
Some of the most powerful product vision statements come from some of the world’s most successful companies. This is not a coincidence. These organizations developed compelling product visions that helped keep everyone on the team steering in the same direction—toward a shared, high-level goal for their products.
Here are some of the best examples we’ve seen:
Sonos: Fill every home with music.
Google: To provide access to the world’s information with one click.
Instagram: To capture and share the world’s moments.
Uber: Evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.
LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful.
Product vision statement template
Geoffry Moore offers a simple template for drafting a vision statement, based on a fill-in-the-blank approach.
For [our target customer], who [customer’s need], the [product] is a [product category or description] that [unique benefits and selling points].
Unlike [competitors or current methods], our product [main differentiators].
At this point, hopefully, you’ve identified what’s special about your product and why your target market needs it. Now you can use these key points—and the template above—to draft a compelling statement.