How To Define Your Mission, Vision, Tagline, and Positioning Statement

These Fundamentals Help Set Your Business on the Right Path

blue iris and pupil
blue iris and pupil
Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash

Mission and Vision Statements

When it comes to Vision and Mission, many get these two confused, but there is a difference.

The Mission statement defines the business’s purpose and objectives. It should have a single objective and an active verb. Although not every company does, the best ones define a business and its purpose in one strong sentence.

MISSION STATEMENT: Relates to our primary business objective.

Examples: “To prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection” RSPCA

“Our MISSION is to create original, high quality, exciting custom print design for our clients.”

Good verbs you could use include:

  • enrich
  • enhance
  • vivify
  • invigorate
  • stimulate
  • solve
  • fix
  • fortify
  • cleanse
  • empower
  • thrill
  • relieve
  • soothe
  • activate


Vision statements should paint a clear, inspirational, often emotive picture of an ideal. It defines the organization’s purpose in terms of guiding values.

One thing to note is that it does not have to be achievable. This is the realm of idealism. Many vision statements are simply unachievable.

They are quite the opposite of a SMART goal in that they don’t have to be measurable, realistic, time-bound.


“To see a world without animal cruelty.” RSPCA

horse and bridle in profile
horse and bridle in profile
Photo by Marylou Salon on Unsplash

“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” AMAZON

child with glasses and book
child with glasses and book
Photo by pixabay on Pexels

“Children are able to think of solutions by themselves even when faced with difficult challenges.” KUMON

Your Turn: Mission & Vision Statements

The MISSION is…(single objective with an active verb)

The VISION is… (an inspirational declaration guided by values)

Let’s Define Some Terms

The following terms get bandied around at fever pitch and there is a lot of use borne of misunderstandings about what they are.

Positioning: what a product is and who it is for (usually specific to one product/service). A company with a range of products may have a different position for each one, based on the product strategy.

Positioning Statement: what, for whom, against whom, why (again, this tends to be focused on a specific product or service)

Value Proposition: This is an organization (or company-wide) articulation of the core promise of the company makes to a customer

Taglines: These are used in external promotions and communications: Taglines are useful if it isn’t clear from your name what you do. If your business name is self-explanatory and you have strong awareness, you can use an emotive tagline. If your name isn’t clear what you do, use your tagline to be very specific.

McDonald’s: I’m loving it McDonald’s is different in every country. The models, menu, tastes and variations are customized, but the experience is distinctly McDonald’s no matter where you go.

If your name is a bit abstract, such as an acronym, or an invented word, be as clear as possible.

McDonald’s french fries on a red table
McDonald’s french fries on a red table
Photo by Zuno on Unsplash

More about Taglines

After you have developed awareness and are well-established, many businesses then move to an emotive tagline. The reason is that when you own emotional territory in the mind of a customer, you become much harder for a competitor to dislodge. When we make decisions on cognitive benefits, like functional advantages of a product or service, these are processed in the neocortex of the brain, which is slower. Emotional decisions, on the other hand, are made in the very old, reptilian part of the brain and very instinctively.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Revolt on Unsplash

Nike: just do it. Everyone knows Nike sells running shoes. The brand can tap into an emotional territory by using models and superstar athletes who have backed themselves to achieve success. Often, these people have been the underdog. The latent message is that anyone can do it. So just do it. It doesn’t just connect with the heart. It’s kind of spiritual. (As long as you have the right shoes, of course.)

The shoes at this point serve as a way of personal expression. They reflect the self-identity of the wearer. (A useful tool that I have been using since 2009 — with which I have a near-obsessive relationship — is Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism.

About Positioning

Positioning is one of the most critical undertakings any business can perform.

Many businesses fail because they have incorrect positioning or no positioning at all.

Positioning is competitive. It’s the angle of attack. In this sense, it is tightly linked with customer targeting (what’s in it for them), competitors (who you are competing against,) and your reason for being the best choice (your point of difference). If is the diamond to engage in a razor-sharp attack, which is to say, you have a crystal clear place (position) in the mind of the customer.

Tabletop hockey in short focus
Tabletop hockey in short focus
Photo by mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash

There are loads of thoughts, articles, opinions about positioning. but Kapferer’s Brand Positioning Diamond is a gem. It distills a lot of the confusion into a straightforward exercise.

So, for the sake of expedience, let’s use Kapferer’s Brand Positioning Diamond. Here is an illustration that shows just how basic it is.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Danielle Spinks

It is also very common for businesses of all shapes and sizes, as well as not-for-profits, to have trouble deciding where to appear, where to advertise, what to say or whether to sponsor something. One moment a business-to-business software provider is advertising in the local community newspaper, next thing they’re in an unaddressed Yellow Envelope stuffed with discount vouchers. Just before they go out of business, they’re on the back of shop-a-dockets, desperate for any business that may come their way. Understanding your Position helps clarify business decisions like this.

One thing to note is that Positioning is usually at a product level e.g. Mars Bars against Kit Kat. However, some small or service businesses might rightly decide to position the whole business, rather than specific services.

To brush up on your understanding of the rules, I recommend Trout and Ries’ book: Positioning.

Your Turn: Positioning Diamond

The Positioning Diamond is like a baseball diamond with the four sides of your battleground. The key questions are simply:

What do I provide? (your service or services package)

For whom? (your target market)

Against whom? (your competition)

WHY? Reasons to Use (why should your target choose you). The reason could be fact-based, use evidence or guarantees, authority from awards, or a transformational appeal based on confidence or emotion.

Other examples of reasons to use

PROMISES ‘Delivered within 24 hours’

ENDORSEMENTS ‘9 out of ten nutritionists recommend it.’

GUARANTEES ‘100% money back if you are not satisfied’

SATISFACTION ‘95% of customers love us’,

HISTORY ‘‘Established 1929’

DESTROYS the bacteria that cause plaque

KILLS mold, doesn’t bleach its color.

CURES 90% of people with hepatitis C with one pill a day for 12 weeks.

Your Evidence

Write one Evidence reason (a distinctive Fact, Statistic or Guarantee, Emotional or Transformational) about your service.


Your Positioning Statement

Not to be confused with a tagline, this is an internal statement. This is a succinct description of the target and the motivation for them to use you.

One sentence that encapsulates who, what, for whom and why. It will help guide all the decisions you make about the brand should do and shouldn’t do.

The components here are:

YOU (your business)_____________ is the WHAT (your service) ___________________________for WHO (your target market) _________________ because (your reason or benefit).______________________________

Your Turn: Positioning Statement

____________(my service) is the ____________ for (target customer)

____________ because it offers ________________________________.

You might need to draft a few examples until you are happy. Remember this is a statement that is how you WANT to be known. The objective is to be very clear about your market and your positioning.

Parting Words

I see so many businesses who just don’t communicate clearly what they do, or why you would do business with them. We need to be clear and differentiate from others.

Often it is a case of excavating and brushing off the dust. There is always a good reason. The mission puts it in clear business terms. The vision connects it to the heart. The tagline helps remind and reinforce the business name. The positioning is competitive. This is where we block and attack.

I hope you find the process clarifying and strengthening.

Written by

Writes about strategy, storytelling, messaging, and communication…Prone to bouts of fiction.

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