Mission Statements versus Positioning Statements: What's the deal?

We thought about getting all Harvard Business Review here, what with the chunky paragraphs and the MBA-speak and the quippish lingo.

We were like, hey, let’s lead with Nike’s mission statement, followed by Tesla’s mission statement, and that will establish all sorts of brand equity and credibility and ethos and relevance.

Just for the sake of the exercise, here they are. They’re pretty good. Also, notice the brevity.

Nike’s mission statement is To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.

Tesla’s mission is To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

 Anyway, we scrapped that idea, and decided to go a simpler route. Dare we say, a cuter route?

Enter Lady, 11-year-old Yorkie, and master of her own mission and positioning.

 
 Lady wants you to know: She's very much in charge. 

Lady wants you to know: She's very much in charge. 

 

Lady’s mission is simple and succinct: To be comfortable at all times.

So your mission needs to come from within, from what you yearn for at your very core.

For Nike, that’s about inspiring athletes.

For Tesla, it’s accelerating sustainable energy practices.

For Lady, it’s all about laying on soft things.

 
 Dead or alive? Hard to say. And that's called extreme comfort. 

Dead or alive? Hard to say. And that's called extreme comfort. 

 

This is where Positioning comes in. How do you position yourself, as a Yorkie, to achieve your mission of comfort?

Every positioning statement can be broken down into discrete components.

  • Distinct Values
  • Unique Methods
  • Brand Promise
  • Category of One

Let’s start with distinctive values. Lady values, in addition to comfort, safety. Warmth. Softness. Security. Peace.

Once you’ve articulated your values, then move on to how those values play out—your unique methods. To achieve maximum comfort, Lady manipulates her human masters with cuteness and playfulness. This allows her to be picked up and placed on comfortable surfaces. This also convinces her human overlords to keep dingy yellow pillows that we’d rather discard but can’t because look at her. Lady also digs already comfortable surfaces to make them that much more comfortable (in her dog mind).

 
 This seemed pretty comfortable at the time. 

This seemed pretty comfortable at the time. 

 

So now we’re onto part three, your brand promise. Based on your values and methods, what do you offer, reliably, all day and every day, to your target audience?

Lady would say, through my absurd cuteness and indefatigable terrier will, I manipulate our entire household so that I’m consistently in the position to be the most comfortable dog in the world.

Values, methods, promise. Those lead to your Category of One.

Lady is the most comfortable Yorkie in the world.

Pretty strong category of one, wouldn’t you say?

 
 But then this was even more comfortable. 

But then this was even more comfortable. 

 

So now let’s put it all together.

Lady’s Positioning Statement

Lady is the most comfortable Yorkie in the world.
As a tiny creature more akin to an animated stuff animal than a canine,
Lady abandons most every dog instinct
in the pure pursuit of warmth, softness, safety,
peace, and extreme levels of snuggliness.

To achieve maximum comfort at all times,
Lady manipulates her human masters with cuteness and playfulness.
This allows her to be picked up and placed on dreamy surfaces.
This also convinces her human overlords to keep dingy yellow pillows
that we’d rather discard but can’t because look at her.
Lady also digs already-absurdly-soft items to make them that much more plush.

Through her absurd cuteness and indefatigable terrier will,
Lady beguiles her entire household so that she’s consistently
in the position to be the most comfortable dog in the world.

So there you have it. Keep your mission simple—one sentence, the clearest distillation of why you exist.

Then for positioning, expand upon your mission.

  • What values do you hold that stem from that mission?
  • What methods do you undertake to bring those values to life?
  • How do your values and methods add up to your brand promise?
  • How does everything come together to formulate your marketplace category of one?

Wasn’t that way easier than being erudite and pedantic and pointing at growth charts and ROI?

We thought so too.

Thanks for reading, and if you’re interested in a Yorkie, just know this—they pee everywhere.

Patrick Kelly