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There’s a saying amongst backpackers and campers, “Leave it better than when you found it.”
It’s a call to explore and enjoy nature, but leave it as undisturbed as possible. After you pack up your campsite, you clean it, remove all traces of your being there, and continue on.
The saying originates from a man named Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the modern Scouting movement, who once said, “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.”
This is the essence of a brand vision. It’s how we want the world to be, whether big or small. It’s the reason we started in the first place.
In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about how to define your vision and how to get other people excited about it and invested in it.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Your brand’s vision is what you want the world to become as a result of your mission.
- Create an others-focused vision in order to help others get on board.
- Your mission is what you do to accomplish your vision.
- There are things you can do to make the world a better place, no matter what industry you’re in.
- Everything your brand does filters through your vision, mission, and values.
- Filter opportunities and future goals within your company using your vision.
- Communicate your vision if you want to get people on board.
- 03:13 Cory: We talk about vision, and at a very basic level, we’re talking about sight. As a human being, the average human being is able to see. Vision doesn’t always apply to what you can see. It can also represent desiring something in the future. I’m going to continue using this example. You’re looking out, saying, “Here I am. I’m standing on this trail and I see where I want to be. I see what I want the future to look like.” That’s how I would define vision, in this context.
- 04:25 Kyle: This is such a powerful piece of the whole brand structure. In fact, as Cory and I have talked about this topic, so many things come to mind for me—stuff I hadn’t really realized before about why I’m doing the things I’m doing. It’s really important to think about this topic. Maybe you don’t have a strong vision yet. Your vision could be really small right now, or it could be very specific. It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge.
- 05:04 You don’t have to want the entire world to change because of this. A lot of times, when people hear about vision, they rightfully think of non-profits. Non-profits typically have a very clearly communicated vision, and it’s almost part of their mission. They talk about wanting to make the world a better place in some respect. I’m framing this, because it started me thinking.
- 05:38 I don’t want anyone to get overwhelmed with this seemingly huge topic, assuming that you have to completely change the world with your brand.
- 05:54 Cory: I say “what you want the world to become,” and if you think about it, you doing anything is changing the world. You’re changing the fabric of how we understand what the universe is. Me taking out the trash is a way of changing the world. It can be on a very small scale or a very big scale. The point is to have something you’re working toward, something that’s bigger than what you’re doing.
Vision is how you want to see the world and what you want the world to become as a result of your work or brand.
Changing the World
- 06:34 Cory: One of the things I like to believe in when it comes to vision is saying, if you took me/this brand/company/organization out of the equation, what would that vision be? Would that vision still be powerful enough to work toward? One of the organizations I was thinking about when we started talking about vision, and this comes up again and again because they so purposefully communicate their vision, is Charity Water.
- 07:12 They want to see every human being connected to clean drinking water. They are so committed, and they have been for many years, to bringing clean drinking water and resources for clean drinking water to people. They see how that impacts the world. They see that it improves the workforce, the quality of life, the village and the towns where they’re making those improvements. That is a really big vision.
- 07:47 That’s something that is far beyond just one non-profit. We want to see every human being have access to clean drinking water. That’s really, really powerful. We’ll go into a few more examples of vision soon. This episode, specifically, is about how to get people on board with your vision. It’s not enough to just say, “Here’s what I want to do.” That’s a goal. “This is what I want to accomplish and what I’m going to do to get there.” That’s fine. Those are goals.
- 08:41 Kyle: In thinking through my own vision, as we discuss that for my brand, it’s one of those things where you might think your niche is too small for this kind of thing. “How can I have a big vision when I’m niched down to a very specific topic?” That’s something I purposefully tried to think through. I want there to be more awareness around icons. That’s small, really. If you expand from there, what I really want to do is to see user interfaces, websites, and anything using icons to communicate better to people and to help other entities move forward with their missions and visions because they’re able to communicate this really clearly.
- 09:52 Every single step of the way. I haven’t written out a big vision yet. It’s kind of just been there in bits and pieces. I have written down my thoughts as we go along on this journey. These things have a ripple effect.
- 10:21 Cory: Daniela asked earlier, “Does your vision have to be directly tied to your niche, or can it simply be a vision for a better world in a different sense? I have very strong opinions as to what we can do to make the world a better place, but they have very little to do with music.” First off, I don’t know if I believe that last bit. Secondly, the mission, the thing that you’re doing, is because of something. There are reasons for why we do everything.
- 11:04 That’s true whether they’re very subtle, ingrained, and within us psychologically at the base level of who we are, or they’re external reasons. If you are doing anything, you’re doing it for a reason. Why are you doing the thing that you’re doing? Why is it important for you to be doing that thing? If your mission is to create great, high quality products in the coffee industry so people have access to great coffee at a convenient price, I’m guessing the reason you want that has something to do with people connecting or people enjoying coffee.
- 12:02 It doesn’t have to be, “We want to create this coffee brand because we want to have world peace.” It doesn’t have to be that, but think—what are trying to accomplish? What do you want the world to be after you’re done?
A vision is what you hope to see happen in the future as a result of your mission.
If there’s something in your niche that you want to effect, think about how that changes things beyond your niche.
Leave the World a Little Better for Others
- 12:25 Cory: We always have an excerpt at the beginning of every show, so you can read that if you’re reading it online. What I wrote today was about the phrase, “Leave it better than when you found it.” Have you ever heard of that phrase?
- 12:40 That’s a saying amongst backpackers and campers. When I grew up, I was in the boy scouts of America. There is a scouting movement all across the world—boy scouts, girl scouts—and, “leave it better than when you found it,” is a call to explore and enjoy nature, but to leave it as undisturbed as possible. If you went to a campsite and you stay the night there after hiking a trail, the next morning, we would not only pack up our tents, but we would look around and make sure that there was no garbage.
- 13:15 We made sure we weren’t leaving anything, but we would also look for things that were there before that other people might have left. We wanted to leave it better than when we found it. That saying originates from Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouting movement, as part of a speech he gave once. He said, “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.”
- 13:38 This is the essence of a brand vision. Your brand vision is about how you want the world to be when you’re done, whether that change is big or small. The reason we start in the first place—that’s a brand vision.
- 14:12 That’s how you get people on board. It’s not even about the people you’re trying to help. It could be. If everything you’re about is only to benefit yourself, it’s tough to get people on board with that. If you have a vision, if you say, “I have a vision for the world where the teenagers in my local community have access to programs and educational material outside of their high school that wil help them prepare for the real world,” that’s a great vision.
- 14:52 That helps other people, especially in the community, to get on board. They can say, “You know what? I also want to see that for the world, my community, my region, my country, my continent, the earth.” It can be at any of those levels. When I think about vision, I think about how you want the world to be. If you want to get other people on board with that, your vision must be others-focused.
In order to develop a vision others can get on board with, your vision must be others-focused.
An Example of Clear Vision
- 15:26 Kyle: Recently, I came across this brand. I can’t remember how I came across them to be honest, but I’m kind of enamored with them. It’s called Spinn Coffee. At first you’re like, “Okay, it’s a coffee maker. Whatever.” You can use your phone to say, “Make a cup of coffee.” Fine. As you get deeper and read more, they have a great video and all of these things.
- 16:09 It starts to become clear that they are trying to position themselves, and I don’t know if this will work out for them because of the pricing, to compete with the Keurig Coffee makers, where you have those little plastic pods and you put them in there. People don’t use those because it’s amazing coffee. They use them because it’s convenient. They need a quick cup of coffee, especially here in the US, because people are running around like crazy people and they just want coffee.
- 16:47 It’s the middle of the work day. You put a pod in this thing and make a cup of coffee in two minutes. They’re trying to compete with that, but they want to have a much higher level of coffee. This is awesome. It’s about the same size as a Keurig Coffee maker. It can sit on your counter and looks fine, but it actually grinds the beans. You put fresh beans in there, it grinds them, diffuses it with hot water, it actually spins it, which is why they call it Spinn, and it makes a freshly ground cup of coffee and espresso if you wanted to make espresso.
- 17:30 Then it leaves it dry, which is another appeal of these pods. You can pull them out immediately and throw them away. It leaves it dry, and you can just take the coffee out and throw it away. That sounds awesome. I was thinking about their mission. Okay, it’s cool that they’re trying to take on this segment of coffee, but they’re really trying to do a few things. One, they’re trying to give everyone better coffee. They see this issue where people want coffee and are drinking nasty coffee because they’re in a hurry, so how do we improve this?
- 18:05 How do we make the world a better place through not killing everybody’s taste buds? Second, how do we make the world a better place by not having all of this plastic garbage all over the place? There is somewhere in the world where most of the plastic we’ve produced has culminated, and it doesn’t ever disintegrate. Plastic sticks around almost forever. Some of the first things made of plastic are still around. This company wants to reduce trash by removing plastic from making coffee from landfills.
- 18:50 That way, there won’t be all this garbage that never returns to the earth. That’s part of their big mission. I looked it up on their site, and they said, “Today, approximately two thirds of the world’s population consumes coffee, some as indulgence, others as a daily ritual or a must-have form of fuel. Coffee connects people around the world, and what connects them to it is a thirst for high quality coffee made on their terms, to their taste. The drive for convenience, however, spawned the era of super-fast brewed coffee, such as K cups, the crushed stuff. That is modern coffee, but with serious costs to tase, tradition, and the environment.”
- 19:41 They go on to talk about how they want to make that better. Obviously, I’m talking about it right now, so they’re definitely communicating their vision. It’s a great example, because you look at this and you say, “It’s an in-home kitchen product. Okay. There isn’t really a movement here.” But for the people who are really interested and invested in this, this is powerful. They’re like, “Yeah, we want things to change, and this is a great change in many respects.”
- 20:35 Cory: And they’re going to do something about it, which is the essence of the mission. The mission is what you do to accomplish the vision, ultimately. Mission is what you’re doing. What are you working on? What are you producing? What are you making? Then you ask the question, why? Why are you making it? Why is it important? What does the world look like without what you’re doing, and how do you want it to change because of what you do? That’s your vision.
- 21:04 Kyle is talking about Spinn. I think it’s amazing. I didn’t even know you could brew coffee with centrifugal force. It’s so incredible. I love it. Are you going to get one of those, Kyle?
- 21:18 Kyle: It’s tough. They’re pricing themselves out of my range. That’s the issue. I hate to admit this, Cory, but we have a Keurig here. Most of it is because my wife’s a teacher. She gets up early, and she wants to go off to school, off to work. She needs to have something fast. It’s not always possible to make it the nice way in the morning, so she’ll default to that and do it quick. It’s tough. Yeah, I’d like to have one. But is the cost worth it?
- 21:59 Maybe it is. Maybe not buying all these little plastic pods is actually going to even the cost out over time, but at the beginning, it’s tough to swallow. The Keurigs are like $150 for a nice one. These start at $299. It’s at least double the cost upfront. I don’t know. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet.
- 22:36 Cory: Cost to benefit ratio, I guess.
Whether you care about the taste of your coffee or about the environment, you’re invested in this thing, because the brand communicates their vision really well.
Brands That Get Others on Board
- 22:40 Cory: I wrote down a couple of examples of companies, and I did some research looking for some different ones. These were the ones I found that I thought were interesting. I liked the different ways they shared their vision and their mission. The first one that I came across was Patagonia. Patagonia is an outdoor recreational brand. You can get clothing and various other things for your outdoor-ing needs. This is a very outdoor podcast episode.
- 23:18 Get outside! Patagonia didn’t have their “vision statement” written down, but I parsed through some of their About page and their mission, and what stood out to me was this sentence: “For us at Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.”
- 23:53 That’s big. That is a very specific, deep, and rich vision for the world. They want to see the environmental health of our planet improve. That’s incredible. They even share why. A part of why they’re doing that is because they have a “love of wild and beautiful places.” I think that’s so beautiful. Then they have this written down, their mission: Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary hard, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
- 24:32 Now, they’re saying, “This is what we’re actually doing. We want to build great products in a safe, environmentally friendly way, and we want to use business in a way that contributes to the environmental health of our planet.” See how they’re tied there? It’s so incredible. I love their vision. I love their mission. I love how they wrap that up in a way that’s helpful, tangible, and isn’t all about them. Again, we’re talking about developing a vision that others can get on board with.
- 25:08 I don’t think I know a single person who wants the planet to deteriorate. Whether you believe in this or that, you think this thing is happening or whatever, take politics out of it. Nobody wants a dead planet, unless you’re an alien from Superman or something. They’re the only ones who want the dead planet. They are making this others-focused. It also includes them, but this is on a very large scale. I love that.
- 25:50 I love how within their mission, they talk about the steps they want to take towards the vision. I love it.
- 26:00 Kyle: I was listening to that, and it’s so awesome. Then I was like, “Wait. They’re a clothing company.” I’m putting this into reference for everyone. You heard that big vision, and they’re a clothing company. You get stuck. You start making clothes, art prints, or whatever, and you think, “I can only ever be about this thing.”
- 26:39 It doesn’t have to be that you’re directly going to do it. Maybe you’re contributing to it or you’re partnering with other people to do it, but you can make it happen.
- 26:56 Cory: It’s so good. The other thing that I love about this is that if you took Patagonia out of it, if they all of a sudden changed their entire business model and the mission was different—build the best product, cause no unnecessary hard, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis—imagine if they said, “We’re not going to do clothing and outdoor gear anymore. We’re going to start up a chocolate company.” Notice how the vision can stay the same.
- 27:32 A love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, to help reverse the sea of decline in the overall environmental health of our planet. Take that vision, and you can apply it across the board, to many, many different things. How your mission and your vision relate to your brand can adjust a little bit, but you can always have a singular vision for how you want the world to be. That can display itself in many different forms.
- 28:05 Kyle: That vision can help you go beyond. Figure out who you can partner with for the future. Who does our brand want to do business with? Let’s say you’re Patagonia, and you want to give away chocolate bars with your clothing. Probably not a good idea. They’ll melt on the clothes on the way to someone’s house. Just go with me, though. I wouldn’t doubt that there’s somewhere out there that makes chocolate with this same vision in mind, or a similar one at least.
- 28:53 They want to make the world a better place. They use certain sources to get their chocolate from. Maybe part of the profits contribute to an organization that helps make the planet a better place or something. They’re going to find those people, and that’s who they’re going to use. You aren’t at a loss, saying, “Who can we partner with that makes sense for our brand? Should we take this opportunity to help out this non-profit or to do this other thing?”
- 29:33 It becomes less about, “Do they do business the same way we do?” And it becomes more about, “Do they have the same vision as we do?”
- 29:43 Cory: I love that. Another company I found is Hitachi, which is a large conglomerate that does electronics and a whole number of things. They have a bunch of differen subsidiaries. At their top level, their vision is, “Hitachi delivers innovations that answers society’s challenges. With our talented team, improving experience in global markets, we can inspire the world.”
- 30:10 The mission to contribute to society through the development of superior original technology and products. I’m giving a context here. It’s not about saying, “Here’s the formula to develop a vision,” it’s saying, “Here are some ideas to help you unfold why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
- 30:39 Kyle: What’s interesting about their vision is that even if you’re a small brand right now, you could have a vision like that. I’m sure Hitachi already has this. They’re a bigger brand, but let’s pretend that they’re small, like two people or maybe even one. It’s someone working to build their brand. When you say, “With our talented team, improving experience in global markets,” that could be the future. It puts you on a path. “We need to have really experienced people. We need to get on a global scale, because that’s the scale we want to get to with this brand.” It can be a bigger vision.
- 31:31 Cory: Finally, the last example I have is Amazon. Amazon is a vast online shopping center.
- 31:48 Kyle: They’re like online IKEA.
- 31:52 Cory: Online all of the things. You can buy anything—books, audio books, things, video now, it’s crazy. Their vision: “To be Earth’s most customer-centered company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” Their mission is, “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.”
- 32:20 If you need a formula for your mission statement, you could say, “[Brand name] [what the brand does] so that [vision].” For instance, you can do it here. “We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience, so that we can be the Earth’s most customer-centered company, where customers can find and discover anything that they might want to buy online.”
- 32:47 See how you can fit those together? It really works and is really helpful. Then you can go, “Now I realize what I’m doing, why I’m doing it. I can put it all together.” If you need the formula, that’s a helpful way to do it. That has helped me. These are just a few ways you can start to develop a vision that people can get on board with.
There are things you can do to make the world a better place, no matter what industry you’re in.
Your vision gives you a way to filter opportunities and future goals within your company.
A brand’s mission exists to see its vision come about.
Communicate Your Vision
- 33:11 Cory: Finally, and we mentioned this with the Charity Water organization, getting people on board with your vision means that you have to communicate about it. You have to include it in your messaging. If people don’t know what you’re about, how can they get on board with what you’re about? That’s just the truth. If you say, “I don’t really know what I’m doing. I hope people buy this stuff…” Now you’re just vague. You’re not transparent.
- 33:43 You’re not authentic. You’re just trying to get something from people. The point of vision is saying, “Listen, it’s more than just me getting your money. It’s more than me selling a product or service. It’s more than that. I am about something bigger. My brand is about something bigger. Come on board. We can make the world a better place together.” That’s how you cultivate brand loyalty.
- 34:07 That’s how you cultivate people who are going to come back and buy again and again, because they’re buying into the vision—not just the product or the service. It’s not just about you. If you left and your brand stays strong, people can still buy into that vision. They may even take that vision and adapt it in their own way. They might take it and create their own brand or business.
- 34:40 Kyle: One final thing. Of course, you’re helping your audience or your customers understand what you’re all about. That’s extremely important. I want to mention again that, internally, this also becomes a filter, the lighthouse in the distance. Once you start understanding this, like now that we’ve seen Amazon’s vision, it makes sense that they would make the Echo. It’s a voice assistant, basically.
- 35:24 Cory: It’s like a smart home unit that you put in your house, and you can command it with voice activation and it can do a bunch of different things.
- 35:33 Kyle: That’s the misconception right there. Everyone is like, “Okay. Amazon is trying to get into home automation. I don’t connect that with their being an online store.” But part of their mission and their vision is to help people quickly find anything they want to buy online and get the best price. You can ask Alexa, who’s the Echo voice, to order things for you from Amazon. You could quickly purchase things and get the best prices on that.
- 36:14 They’re fulfilling their vision with this product, even though it seems slightly unrelated. They’re removing the computer. You don’t have to get on your phone or get on a desktop or laptop anymore. You can literally say what you want, and it will be delivered.
- 36:34 Cory: And then everything that they do filters through the vision.
Other people might create their own movement because you sparked a vision that was greater than the brand it represented.
Everything your brand does filters through your vision, mission, and values.