We all know the Johnson & Johnson company that sells pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods. In the early 1980s, their best-selling product was Tylenol, a painkiller that brought around 19% of the company’s profit.
But a terrible accident has happened and 7 people were reported dead after consuming Tylenol. As it occurred later, an unknown suspect put cyanide capsules in some of the Tylenol bottles. Johnson & Johnson did not wait for further escalation and immediately called back all Tylenol. They have lost 100 million dollars, but saved more people from risk.
For Johnson & Johnson, it was a tremendous hit that could end the story of a hundred years of success. However, the company’s reaction was immediate and brilliant. And thanks to their precise actions taken, they quickly won back the users’ trust and still remain the leader in their niche.
How did the company know how to react and how they so quickly took the decision of withdrawing the dangerous product without proof that all Tylenol was poisoned and knowing it will cause a huge loss of money?
The answer is that in times of crisis Johnson &Johnson has turned to their vision statement, which clearly indicated that their responsibility towards customers is their highest priority. All their actions were aligned with their vision and it let them survive the crisis.
This is one of many examples showing how a short vision statement can define your success and even save the company. This small and often underestimated document is, in fact, one of the crucial pillars for your product development. A well-defined product vision provides direction, focus, and organizational clarity.
As a digital design agency working mostly with SaaS businesses, we also have noticed that teams with clear product vision are more motivated towards a common goal and, as a result, more successful.
In this article, we would like to talk about how to create a good product vision for your product or startup. And we have prepared some solid examples and product vision templates as a helping hand, so keep reading.
What is product vision?
There is no universal definition of product vision. It can be a statement or a short document. But most important a product vision should describe the purpose of your product, highlighting what problem it solves and whom it serves. A well-crafted product vision reflects what direction you want to go in and how people will benefit from your product.
We can categorize product visions in two groups: functional and aspirational. As the names suggest, these groups represent different types of goals that are designed to push teams in different directions. We will give examples of both later, but it is up to you what type of product vision represents your goals better. You can also combine both in a product vision document.
The product vision statement/document represents your product’s end goal. It’s what you want to accomplish, how you want users to think of your product, and the position you want to be in. That is why product vision is a great filter for all your further decisions should go through. And with the help of such a filter, you can always estimate if the product is meeting its objectives.
Why do you need a product vision?
If you are a startup founder or a company’s product owner, you are the first person to understand the importance of product vision. It's what gives you focus and energy. A clear vision allows you to identify the opportunities in any market and take action with confidence.
It also helps you to lay out your goals and keeps your team heading in the right direction.
The product vision provides employees with a common goal. It helps them understand the purpose of their jobs and motivates them to work harder. A solid vision aligns people, keeps everyone on the same page, and as a result, reduces potential conflicts.
If you fancy the agile methods then you’ll definitely want to have a product vision as a North Star for your team.
Product vision also improves productivity. No kidding. The alignment between stakeholders and within the team leads to:
- shorter prioritization meetings
- simpler agreements on implementation details
- faster minimum viable product (MVP) delivery
Last but not the least, product vision is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. The product vision is the most important tool for any company selling a solution. It is used to articulate your product's mission. Product vision gives customers an understanding of what to expect from the company and its products.
We hope that by this point you are already convinced that product vision is worth investing your time and effort. But how to craft a strong vision for your product? Let’s find out.
What makes a good product vision?
The main problem with product visions is that they often get lost in the process of new feature releases, bug fixes, and changing requirements from stakeholders. It's like this big whiteboard full of hopes and dreams getting dusty over time. How can you make sure that your product vision withstands time and challenges? Here is what makes a strong product vision:
- It highlights your single main goal.
- It is short, precise and accessible.
- It does not turn into requirement specifications.
- It captures the team's excitement and shares a sense of purpose.
- It remains valid even if the product slightly changes direction. As the father of Lean Startup Eric Ries said in his book "A pivot is a change in strategy, not vision".
If you have ideas of where you want to take your business, now is the time to write them down and create your product vision.
How to create a product vision that rocks
For starters, let’s agree that a good product vision is not something that a product owner crafts in a vacuum. Even if you are a solo founder, it still makes sense to invite people who can validate your ideas and can help you with creating a product vision.
For bigger teams, relevant stakeholders, key team players should be involved in the co-creation of a vision. Gather the team for more creative brainstorming and make sure that everyone takes this meeting seriously. Motivated brainstorming group will deliver the best results.
Clear agenda for the meeting will help to keep everyone focused and get a product vision draft ready by the end of this strategic meeting. We would recommend several techniques that can help you define a product vision.
One effective technique is to ask everyone in the group to write what is their vision for the product. Then participants hand the note to the person next to them and everyone edits the statement they received. Repeat the procedure several times. Compare the statements the group has created and see what they have in common.
Contrast your ideas with other viewpoints or perspectives. Think of what you want to accomplish but also of what you won’t be doing on this path. For example, ‘What areas of the product will we develop?’ vs ‘What areas we will not focus on?’. Such practice is very useful in solidifying the vision.
Here are a few more questions you can ask to figure out what your product vision is:
- What's your first impression of this product?
- What do people need and want from this product?
- How many people out there have the problem that our product solves?
- Where is your product in the current market?
- Does the technology exist to make this work?
- Who is the ideal customer for your company's product?
- Why will they buy this specific solution instead of another one?
Another helpful technique is to use an empathy map. It’s one of the design thinking practices that deepens your understanding of your users and aligns the team around a common idea. That brings you clarity and results in a more meaningful product vision.
To have better results from the empathy map, conduct simple user surveys in advance. The data collected leads to a deeper understanding of potential customers and as a result, a stronger and moe realistic product vision. The research you do for your product vision will help you later with your product design, so it makes sense to invest your time in understanding your users.
You can write the product vision from scratch or use the special tools that can help you to shape the vision. For example, Mural offers templates for product vision.
When it comes to style, use the customer language for your product vision. Don’t overwhelm users with technical jargon. Explain your idea in very simple human words and write from the heart.Some outstanding examples of product vision
Every product vision is unique to the product being created. Remember we talked about functional and aspirational visions? A typical functional product vision answers the most important questions about your product in a simple and structured way.
Your public version of product vision may be less straightforward and sound more like an inspiring intention. Here are some product vision examples from world’s best tech companies that should give you a good sense of how it can sound like.
Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system.
Here’s what the company says: “Roblox’s mission is to bring the world together through play. We enable anyone to imagine, create, and have fun with friends as they explore millions of immersive 3D experiences, all built by a global community of developers”. It’s a simple, yet a crystal-clear statement that explains how and for whom Roblox is developing its product.
Hardware startup Camtouch builds a solution that turns any screen into an interactive one.
Their vision is to “Make the world interactive with accessible solutions”. This statement reveals the company's intentions for the global market. And they do change the game-based learning field for the good.
When Zoom entered the market, there were well-established competitors like Skype and Google Hangouts. But Zoom’s vision was to “Make video communication frictionless”. And that’s exactly what they did and how they won millions of clients over the world.
Who hasn’t heard about Falcon 9? You know, the first orbital-class rocket capable of reflight. Here’s how SpaceX presents its vision for this product. While Zoom and Camtouch were examples of more aspirational ones, Falcon 9 vision is a great example of a functional approach.
In 2007 Steve Jobs a great visionary presented iPhone. Smartphones were already on the market. However, Jobs started his keynote by saying, “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything”.
This was Apple’s vision for the first iPhone: “A revolutionary phone, an iPod, and an internet communicator together in one product. Apple reinvents the phone”. And they did. The touchscreen and access to the internet have forever changed the way we use phones. It also influenced the the design industry setting up a demand for responsive design. And it all started with a vision.
Product vision statement template for you
After such great product vision examples from world-known companies, it’s natural to feel pressure to craft your own one. To help you overcome the fear of the blank page, we have collected some product vision templates.
Product vision template
It’s okay to eliminate the part about the competitors’ products in your public vision statement. But having that defined for yourself armors you with awareness.
A product vision statement is a short version of a product vision and focuses more on a final goal. It can go like this:
(Our product) is designed to (achieve these goals)
current solutions are not meeting (these goals)
These examples of product vision templates should help you remain laconic and won’t let you miss an important point.
A solid product vision is a strong strategic tool that you want to have in your product arsenal. It can be a document, a statement or even a video that sets out who the product is for, what problem it solves and where it adds value to the users. It is essential to always keep your product vision statement in front of you to remind yourself why you began this journey.
We hope that our guide was helpful and you are ready to begin building your product. Eleken team is there for you to create the design that would reflect your vision. Don’t hesitate to contact us.
To learn more about strategic development of a product read our other article on product roadmap.