When Dr Martin Luther King dreamt, he dreamt big. He dreamt of something that would have seemed ludicrously optimistic in the segregated south of 1963. It was a time of injustice, corruption, violence and simmering racism.
Even if uttered today, Dr King’s dream would seem idealistic and farfetched.
But what if his dream were more realistic, more modest?
“I dream of a day when really tall people can make a lot of money playing basketball.”
Or, “I dream of a time when condoms come in sizes more appropriate to a black man’s endowment.”
Or, “I dream of a day when there are no broken bits in the bottom of packs of potato chips.”
As audacious as his dream was, he’s still a few galaxies short of the spectacularly grand Vision of Steve Jobs, who wanted “to put a dent in the universe”.
Astronomers would say Steve Jobs failed. They’d cite the fact that there are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in the known universe. If you discount the planets unlikely to support life (because it doesn’t really matter if Steve Jobs made an impression on these), there are still an estimated 60 billion planets that could support life.
If there really is life on these other planets, are the locals likely to have heard of Steve Jobs and Apple? If they have heard of him, are they likely to be impressed by his achievements? We might never know.
So, let’s say that whilst Steve Jobs mightn’t have put a dent in the known universe, he certainly put a dent in the planet we live on.
Only time will tell if future generations reckon he made as big a dent as, say, Galileo. For now, many would agree that he did come close to achieving his Vision, to realising his dream.
What’s this got to do with branding?
Well, if I were to ask business owners to describe their Vision for their business, very few would come back with anything remotely close to the audaciously grand Vision of Steve Jobs or the dream of Martin Luther King.
Many business owners say that their Vision is to dominate their market, sell more products or retire at 50.
There’s nothing wrong with these ambitions – but they’re not Visionary. They are goals, business objectives. They are achievable – and this is what’s wrong with them. They are too small.
If you set your sights on a modest and achievable goal, there’s a good chance you’ll reach it. Then what?
The best kinds of Visions are the ones that are bigger than your current business sector or service offering.
I consulted to a software & web development company a couple of years back to develop their branding. Run by young idealists, when I asked them to describe their Vision, they responded with something I remember to this day.
Their Vision is this:
TO BE RESPECTED CREATORS OF MAGNIFICANT SOLUTIONS FOR THE GOOD OF MANY.
There’s no mention of software or websites. No mention of clients or competitors or market share.
Theirs is a Vision for life. There’s no end point. Even if the company were to shut its doors, each partner can take this Vision into his future.
I did the same exercise with a celebrity makeup artist (and this monicker is true whichever way you read it – someone who puts makeup on celebrities or a makeup artist who is a celebrity).
This is her Vision:
TO LIBERATE BEAUTY.
There’s a broad reference to beauty, but not to beauty products. There’s a powerful grandness about the word liberate. There’s no mention of what beauty will be liberated from. No mention of how it will be liberated. That comes later.
The liberation of beauty is an all-of-life project. Progress will be made, but the task will never be fully completed.
Why is Vision important?
Because it’s your North. It’s the compass reference that keeps you on course, that ensures that every activity brings you closer to your audacious dream.
Without a Vision, we meander. We waste time and energy on distractions. Without a Vision, brands diversify into categories that aren’t a right fit. Without a Vision, organisations risk focussing on things that fail to bring them closer to achieving what they set out to do.
If I were to ask you to write down your Vision for your organisation, what would it be?
If I were to ask you to write down your Vision for yourself, what would it be? (Yes, it’s equally valuable in personal life as it is in business.)
If I show you mine, will you show me yours?
My Vision is:
TO SHOW OTHERS WHAT’S POSSIBLE.
So what’s yours? Think about it. Ask yourself if it’s grand, as grand as that of the software company above or Steve Jobs?
Send me your Vision. I’ll help you make it something spectacularly audacious, something that can guide you or your business for life.
Send your Vision to firstname.lastname@example.org