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Watch Your Language: 5 Vision Statement Words You Need To Stop Using Right Now

Oh, the vision statement. You know what I’m talking about. That you-can-do-it statement painted on the break room wall that gets more coffee stains than attention.

If we’re going to be honest, usually that sentence is so jam-packed with marketing fluff that no one is even sure what it means, much less how it applies to the company. And don’t even get me started on how dreadfully long it is – if it gets any longer you’re going to need a bigger break room wall (and a nap).

Without a clear vision, though, the workplace gets out of whack. The employees lose sight of exactly what they are working toward, and all the endless meetings, emails and paper pushing lose their meaning. Without focus and purpose, your company will never gain the synergy it needs to succeed.

In order to clear up your vision, you need to clean up your language. Thankfully, Grace McLaren will walk us through the process of building a vision that will make synergy a reality during the Leadership Summit on April 24 (you can register here). Until then, here are five business-babble words that you need to stop using right now:

1. Quality

Quality service. Quality experience. Quality product. Quality blah, blah, blah. The word is so overused that it’s lost its meaning. Instead, stop and actually define what quality looks like for your company. If you want to provide quality customer service, maybe “quality” means no customer leaves without a smile. Decide what quality means for you.

2. Service

Did you know this is the most overused word in vision statements? Out of 301 corporate statements, the word “service” was used 230 times. We get it – everyone provides service. What kind are you providing? It’s time to implement the writer’s #1 rule: Show, don’t tell. Don’t just tell me you do A, B and C with “great service,” show me what that means.

3. Value

The definition for marketing in my college intro class was “creating value,” a vague definition for a vague profession. I’m sure your company creates value, too, and you’re not even a marketing firm. Of course, my next question is “what value?” Tell me exactly how your company makes my experiences more valuable. 

4. Customers & Employees

Congratulations! This is a 2-for-1. We already know for whom you are working (customers) and how you will be meeting their needs (employees), so you can just skip all that nonsense and tell us what it is you plan to do.

5. Best

I know, I know – we all want to be the best. I want to be the best blogger, and you want to be the best company who creates value through quality service from your employees for your customers. But, we simply can’t ALL be the best. So, let’s just hit the backspace on that one.

What about you? I know you have a secret list of vision statement words that sound like nails on a chalkboard to you. Leave your least favorites in the comments below – or tweet them to me at @MemphisChamber. But ... watch your language.

And don’t forget to sign up for the 2014 Leadership Summit before it’s too late.

-Jenny C. Fish
Posted: 4/14/2014 9:55:52 AM | with 1 comments
Filed under: blog, business, chamber, clean, employee, employer, event, guidance, ideas, language, memphis, small, statement, synergy, unity, vision

I have a pet peeve that is simple to avoid yet so many Vision Statements have the phrase, "To be"... drives me crazy. A truly great Vision statement is Microsoft's old "A computer on every desk." That's a statement about the future of their world... same can be done for the smallest of businesses and their impact on a community.
4/16/2014 10:59:26 AM

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

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Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

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Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

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Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.