October 26, 2020|
8 min read
The Value of Vision
Fall weather seems have to have us moving two (or even three) steps back from where we were in the summertime. That’s rough for many people—maybe you included. We felt we were moving forward, back towards “normal." Now it seems like we’ve abruptly changed course to go back the other way.
In these strange times, many of us have found it so difficult to plan. At this point, it may feel hopeless to try and figure out what we’re doing tomorrow or even next week. Some of us have been planning to get back to the office. Others were thinking about shows or in-person appointments and meetings. Now it looks like we might be tipping back to the virtual space.
Planning thus looks like—and feels like!—an exercise in futility for many of us right now. Those of us who were trying to convince others in our organizations about the value of vision, we might be second-guessing ourselves.
Is there any value in a vision in this climate?
Yes! In fact, a long-term brand vision is even more important than ever before.
Vision Is a Long-Term Commitment
The first thing we have to remember about vision for our brands is that it’s for the long term. It has less to do with the immediate moment. So, yes, we’re in a disruptive environment that makes planning for the immediate future difficult.
That doesn’t mean we can’t think longer term. You need a goalpost in order to have the framework to make everyday decisions vs. reactive and potentially harmful decisions. But nothing will actually provide more confidence than having that futurespective view. It gives us back a feeling of control.
Vision gives us something to guide us through even the stormiest of seas. So even when immediate plans fall through—like when we need to delay that conference—we know we’re still working in the right direction by sticking to our vision.
Vision Gets at the Core of the Brand
That’s because vision goes to the core of our brand. It should inform all our actions—both in the here and now and in the future. When we have a vision, it’s easier to see if we’re making the right moves now, or if our planned future actions line up.
And it makes it easier for us to switch gears at the drop of a hat. It means when we need to change directions, when we need to switch up our messaging, we still have our guiding light to show us the right way for our brands.
So when we need to drop the “we can’t wait to see you in our re-opened stores!” and move back to a “join us online!” style message, we know we’re aligning with our brand.
In this way, vision informs the here and the now.
Vision Will Be with You Tomorrow
Long-term planning is so frustrating right now because we don’t know where we’re going to be. How do you plan for a conference 12 months from now? We can try to move ahead like everything is normal, or hope that everything will be back to normal by the time our conference rolls around.
But there’s a lurking suspicion that it may not be back to normal and the efforts we’re putting in will be wasted. We’ll need to revise and rethink. So we’re maybe putting some contingency planning in, or we’re thinking that we’ll play wait-and-see a little longer. We might take the safe route and say we’re not doing any planning until we know how things are going to shake out.
That can leave strategists like us feeling a little lost. We can’t do anything long-term; we have to sit on our hands and wait.
Vision is the one thing that we can work on, almost no matter what. Yes, it’s difficult to lay down concrete dates—five-year plans may need to be delayed. But vision isn’t something that you put on a timeline and say you need to have accomplished by this particular date.
Vision is something that’s a little more vague, which makes it more flexible. It’s capable of evolving. Vision asks you and other leaders where you want to see your brand go. It asks what you value and how that reflects in what you do.
It can—and definitely does—inform your day-to-day actions. But, in some ways, it’s something you’re always striving to fulfill. The work of crafting and fulfilling a brand vision is never done. That's why it’s the kind of long-term plan that works right now.
Vision Guides You Now
Vision can become a guiding light in uncertain times. It’s flexible and meant to exist long term.
Vision informs every action you take, both now and in the future. Without it, there is not framework to make decisions from, and we may end up taking actions that don’t align with the brand’s values. In turn, we make missteps and lose the trust of our customers—which is so key in this environment.
So, we can think of our brand visions as a sort of constant—a north star (or goal post) for our brands. We then navigate using that star, rather than relying on the endlessness of the ocean itself. When things get rough, when the winds change, we might get turned around. But this star keeps us trekking towards where we want to go.
And what’s more is that it honours our customers and our employees. Our customers are buying the values of our organization and our employees joined us to bring these values to life through our brands. Zigging and zagging can even make our most loyal customers begin to lose trust. I can’t tell you how many studies we have done where a brand’s best customers basically feel….. “if they don’t understand/or care about their customer” then why should I? Meaning, the organization has made so many mistakes that our best most valued customers decide that not buying our brands – is a smarter choice. ☹
When we have the star—and we all know about it—then it becomes a lot easier to both navigate and to maintain people’s faith in our ability to steer the brand in the right direction.
We’re in Stormy Seas Right Now
The environment around us right now is like a stormy sea. If we lose sight of our vision, then we’re going to end up lost amid the waves.
If we have a vision, we can keep turning towards it—striving to reach it, no matter how far away it is. At times, it may seem closer. Other times, it might be further away from us. So long as we can all see it, we’ll keep heading in the right direction.
And that will help to maintain faith in our brands, both from our customers and our crewmates. Right now, that’s what doing almost anything feels like—taking a bit of a leap of faith. Planning beyond a week might seem foolhardy right now. It may feel less so when we know we’re working towards the vision for our brands.
So having a vision allows us to both imagine what we might do and to act right here, right now, in the moment. That’s so important, especially right now, when so many people might feel like we’re completely unmoored, drifting out to sea with no direction and no sense of how to get where we want or need to go.
So, if you’ve been hesitating on vision as an important consideration for your brand right now, it’s time to move forward. If you’ve put the development of a vision for your brand on the back burner, it’s time to get it boiling again. Because a solid vision will help you act in line with your brand’s values both now and in the future—no matter what it throws at us.
And remember that vision speaks to the core or essence of our brands. So, as you sit down to map out the brand vision, remember to start with the why!
Just to inspire!
Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing
Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.
Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.
And it all starts with why!
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