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Product Vision vs. Product Strategy: Why Do You Need Both?

Vladislav Gavriluk

Vladislav Gavriluk

CEO & Founder at Arounda

Excellent products don’t appear by chance. They require high-level thinking and execution, that is, product vision and product strategy. 

When starting to work on UI/UX design, we always ask our clients about product vision first. And we often see how teams mix vision, mission, strategy, and values, making it harder to get a clear product idea. This article will clarify the two basic terms and give product vision and strategy examples.

Table of Contents

What's a Product Vision?

Product vision is a short statement of the product goals. What change will it bring to the world? What emotions and senses are there inside the package? How does it differ from similar products? Those are some of the most critical questions it answers.

For instance, , the founder of Zoom, had a big vision of “One platform delivering limitless human connection.” Recently, Zoom has launched a new product called the “Video Software Development Kit (SDK).” The short statement for the future the company is bringing closer with SDK is “Build anything with video.” It aligns with the general Zoom vision but describes a particular benefit from a product.

Now, look at more examples of an excellent product vision:

  • Asana: “Everybody can prioritize their day across all of their apps with an Asana.” 

  • HubSpot: “Hubspot gives you the software, services, and support you need to do marketing the right way, all in one place.” 

To grasp product vision vs. strategy, let’s analyze these statements, for they have much in common:

  • Product visions are relatively simple single sentences. 

  • The phrases are intentionally general. 

  • There are no predefined steps and timeframe to achieve the goal. Strategy and tactics may change yearly and even daily. In contrast, the vision should be broad enough to remain actual for decades. 

  • Last but not least, product vision should inspire everybody involved with the product.

Product vision is somewhat like a lighthouse for the entire organization. It helps stakeholders to unite the team around a common goal. Thus, they make decisions with a more significant impact in the long-term perspective rather than reacting to instant market fluctuations.

What's a Product Strategy?

When a company has a product vision, they know where they’re heading. But as mentioned above, an inspiring motto doesn’t give any prescriptions for reaching the goal. Product strategy vs. product vision describes the necessary steps to achieve it.

A successful product strategy starts from an obsession with customer needs. Who are you designing your product for? What unique purpose does it fulfill? What are the emotional reactions you expect to get from your audience?

The answers to all those questions transform into buyer personas, narrower target markets, customer segments, monetization, etc. With a deep understanding of users, the team formulates smart goals. It focuses on results and measures progress in usage-based metrics, like retention rates and recurring revenue. 

Now, let’s explore the core features of balanced product strategies. 

  • A general view. Product strategies describe the necessary steps on a higher level without going into the details. Precise solutions appear when you approach closer to the problem and see the optimal ways to act. 

  • Flexibility and adaptability. Stakeholders and teams will continuously learn something new about users and markets, proposing new promising options. As Jeff Bezos said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details….”

  • Timing. Product vision has a timeframe of 1-3 years. Solutions for a more extended period will eventually get outdated. On the other hand, with a shortsighted strategy, the company will change directions too often and lose resources on transient phenomena.

What's the Difference Between Product Vision and Product Strategy? 

So, what’s the main difference between product vision and strategy? Product vision sets the point of the final destination for a brand. In contrast, product strategy describes steps to get to that point. Here are a few examples:

Subscription-based learning platform

  • Product Vision: To create the most engaging and effective online learning platform that caters to learners worldwide, democratizing education.

  • Strategy: Develop diverse and quality courses in collaboration with top educators and institutions. Implement a subscription-based model with personalized learning paths. Use AI to continually adapt and improve the learning experience based on user behavior.

Health and fitness app

  • Product Vision: To build a comprehensive digital health and fitness platform that motivates users to lead healthier lives and reach their personal fitness goals.

  • Strategy: Offer personalized workout plans and nutrition advice. Leverage wearable technology for real-time tracking of vital stats. Foster an engaging community through social features. Monetize through the freemium model with premium features like personalized coaching.

E-commerce platform

  • Product Vision: To create a user-friendly online marketplace where individuals can conveniently buy and sell a wide range of products.

  • Strategy: Prioritize a smooth, secure, and intuitive user interface. Implement advanced search algorithms and personalized recommendations. Use data analytics for understanding customer behavior and optimizing the user experience. Ensure robust logistics and customer service.

Let’s summarize the differences between these concepts.

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Emotional impact

The core purpose of the product vision is to unite everyone who comes in touch with the product, including clients, product teams, and stakeholders, through one inspiring call. In turn, for the product strategy, emotions are non-essential. Instead, rational analysis and logic are the primary instruments to outline the most promising direction for reaching a goal.

Detalization 

Another difference between product strategy vs. vision is that vision is deliberately vague and doesn’t dictate a specific tactical path. Five people who read the same sentence of product vision might suggest five different ways to get there. That’s where a product strategy comes into play.

Timeframe

Product vision describes the aspirational future for decades. A the same time, a reasonable planning horizon for the product strategy is one to three years. Companies evolve and set new milestones according to their appetites as time passes. They add these goals to the neverending path to supreme and absolute the remaining vision.

Flexibility

Before the pandemic, Zoom's strategy was focused primarily on businesses. And then, over one night, full classrooms of students and an army of workers had to pivot to distant communication. Thanks to the further flexible product strategy, Zoom adapted to the market explosion without abandoning its “One platform delivering limitless human connection” statement. 

How Can Product Vision Help with Product Strategy?

Product vision helps keep sight of what matters. It might be tempting to download some ready-made generic templates from the web, fill in the blanks, and follow a step-by-step guide. But you should ask yourself whether this improvement brings you closer to the better future stated in your vision. Then, you will omit unnecessary sideways and reach the final destination point faster. Otherwise, you may build a product with many features but no apparent purpose. 

Conclusion

Now that you know the difference between product vision vs. product strategy and how they complement each other, ask yourself if you have both for your product. If so, do your team and stakeholders share this understanding? 

All in all, a vision is crucial for developing a successful strategy. But, on the other hand, inspiring future change in the world thanks to your product will only happen with a consistent strategy. Having both in place, you can achieve your goal without wasting time, resources, and money.

The Arounda agency has been designing successful digital products for over five years. We have observed how clear vision and consolidated strategy impact startups and SME clients aiming to raise revenues in many niches, including Web 3, Fintech, Healthcare, SaaS, and food delivery. Hopefully, this article helped you formulate your inspiring motto and polish the strategy steps.

But if you need more assistance with design, branding, or business analysis, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

Vladislav Gavriluk
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the difference between a vision and a strategy?

    The main difference between product vision and strategy is that the first describes the future state for your users, which comes from your product’s value. Meanwhile, the second refers to the steps to implement your vision.

  • What is from product vision to product strategy?

    Vision comes first. Having defined the primary change your product brings to the world, you see the steps and actions to get there. The strategy solves specific problems and pain points relevant to your target audience.

  • Where does a road map fit in?

    A product map follows a product strategy. All the tiny planning pieces come together in more detailed schemes and timelines at this stage. Online tools for product management, like Monday.com, Wkire, and Jira, can save you time and improve teamwork.

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