A great product starts with a great story — one that aligns your team and gets people excited about the product you're building. That story manifests as a product vision.
In this post, we'll look at how your team can collaborate to create a clear, concise product vision. Then, we'll walk through some examples of effective product vision statements and a template you can use to create your own.
A product vision statement defines why a product exists, who it serves, and how it's different.
Consider your product vision your North Star, guiding your product team as they ideate, prioritize, design, develop, test, and iterate. It's the overarching, future-facing mission that everyone — the product owner, product managers, designers, engineers, and beyond — is on together.
Your vision also serves as the cornerstone of your product strategy. But while your product strategy should be resilient, adapting to the market and your customers' needs, your product vision will remain relatively static to keep your team oriented in the right direction.
In a 2014 blog post, Roman Pichler put it like this: "Your product vision should not be a plan that shows how to reach your goal. Instead, you should keep the product vision and the product strategy — the path towards the goal — separate. This enables you to change your strategy while staying grounded in your vision."
Nailing down the perfect product vision can be tough, especially when you're starting from square one. As the product owner, you also own the product vision, but that doesn't mean you should define it on your own. The best visions are created in collaboration with product stakeholders and pressure tested by the leadership team.
A great product vision is also:
Before you can craft your vision, make sure you have the right data and resources on hand. Typically, that means gathering your company vision statement, nailing down your product purpose, and completing an empathy map to deeply understand your customers. Let's take a closer look at how these components — in particular, your product purpose and empathy map — feed into an effective product vision.
Creating your product story starts with understanding the purpose of your product. This ultimately boils down to three questions.
It sounds easy enough, but this is really an exercise in specificity. You could probably list out dozens of reasons why your product exists, and you could describe it in myriad different ways. But for the purpose of this exercise, make sure you collaborate with product stakeholders to boil it down to its core, to what really matters.
Below is a simple framework that can help your team. We recommend spending about 15 minutes workshopping your product purpose with your team. It can be tempting to spend days poring over various iterations, but try to timebox yourselves in order to work quickly and efficiently.
Next, complete an empathy map to develop a deep, shared understanding of your users. If it's been a while since you've done this, do it again! Before you can write a successful product vision, everyone should have an intimate knowledge of their needs, their pain points, and their motivations.
First things first, you need to have a clear view of your target persona. Who are you creating this product for? From there, your team can spend 30 minutes completing an empathy map that organizes and refines your collective knowledge about your persona. This empathy map template from Moonshot by Pactera EDGE can guide you through the process. The completed empathy map will serve as a valuable tool when you actually sit down to create your product vision.
With these resources in hand, your team can define your product vision. You can use this simple, concise format to tell a compelling product story that resonates with your audience.
There's no one-size-fits-all format for a product vision, but there are tried-and-true templates you can use as a jumping-off point. This is a classic, fill-in-the-blank format you can use to guide your thinking.
[Product] is for [target customer] who [statement of need or opportunity]. The [product name] is a [product category] that [key benefit, reason to buy]. Unlike [primary competitive differentiation], our product [statement of primary differentiation].
This template, which is adapted from Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, was originally intended for creating product positioning statements. But while positioning refers to the space your product occupies in the market, your product vision should be more aspirational and ambitious.
Tip: Get this template, along with the other building blocks of a resilient product strategy, in the Resilient Product Roadmap Template in MURAL.
Now, let's take a look at some real-world examples of product visions that tell a meaningful story.
Need a little inspiration before you get started? These real product visions from notable companies can help. You'll notice that they don't strictly follow Geoffrey Moore's format, but they're all aspirational, and they all address what their product is, who it's for, and how it's different.
The British grocery chain Tesco has a team focused entirely on loss prevention science. This is how they describe their vision.
"Our product vision is to provide a single source of decision making for loss prevention within Tesco, across any channel or market. We operate at the point of transaction, so Tesco chooses which transactions to allow, block or intervene in, to grow sales and manage losses."
GitLab is an open-source DevOps platform that allows teams to deliver software faster and more efficiently. This is their vision for GitLab Runner.
"Our vision for GitLab Runner is to offer DevOps teams a build agent that works seamlessly on tomorrow's market-leading computing platforms and the tools to eliminate CI build fleet operational complexity at enterprise scale."
The iconic musical instrument company Fender describes their product vision for their electric guitars and basses like this.
"Our product vision is to accompany each player at every stage with products and brand experiences that fuel the pursuit of musical expression for players at every level."
Now ... are you ready to create your own product vision and start bringing it to life?
Product teams are often saddled with a lot of different canvases and frameworks, leaving them asking how each one fits into the larger framework of a strategic product roadmap. To solve this challenge, we've developed a resource to simplify the product visioning and roadmapping process.
Together with Mike Edmonds, chief experience officer at Moonshot by Pactera EDGE, we created a template to help product leaders plan and rally their organizations around more collaborative and strategic product planning — and it all starts with the product vision.
Now, it’s your turn. Rally stakeholders from product management, design, and engineering for a series of collaborative planning sessions that cover each of the exercises outlined in the template. You can use MURAL’s shared digital workspace to these workshops, as well as asynchronous collaboration, from anywhere. Try the template below to get started.