The Difference Between Positioning Statements and Mission Statements

by Marie-Pier Rochon; Updated September 26, 2017

When starting a new business, many terms may seem interchangeable, such as confusing a positioning statement with a mission statement. Being able to distinguish between the two terms will allow you to find the focus of your business, so spend some time getting acquainted with them before getting any further into launching your new organization.

Positioning Statement Definition

A positioning statement is a written description of the objective of a specific strategy. It defines how a product or a brand distinguishes itself from the competition, explains how the benefits from the product or brand will help the client, and how these benefits will be communicated to the prospective customers. Positioning statements set the direction of many business, branding and marketing plans as it takes into account not only the features of your products or services, but it helps you keep in mind your customers' view of your business. In one or two sentences, it is a way to explain how your business distinguishes itself from competitors.

Mission Statement Definition

A mission statement is a sentence that describes a company's function, markets and competitive advantages, and it includes a statement of the business' goals and philosophies. The mission statement defines not only what your organization is but also explains its purpose and rationale. A mission statement should be communicated to every employee of your organization as it will help them understand the business and take decisions that are aligned with its core values and goals.

Similarities

Both positioning and mission statements are linked to the purpose of the organization. However, even using the purpose as a reference point, there are no more significant similarities between both types of statements, other than the fact they are written, generally in one or two sentences only, and are important elements of different business documents.

Differences

While a positioning statement is most often one element of a business or marketing plan, a mission statement is a component of an organization's definition. Positioning statements focus on how the customer sees the organization and the benefits that clients get from dealing with the firm, instead of its competition. Mission statements are focused on the business' core purpose and are more important to the employees that make up the organization so that everyone understands their function and how they fit in the business' big picture. A position statement will try to sell the features that differentiate them from competitors and make them the best in their industry while a mission statement does not take into account the competition and focuses solely on the organizations reason to exist. Finally, positioning statements are rarely stated word for word to the public. Instead, the business uses marketing strategies and branding to communicate the important elements of its positioning statement. A mission statement, however, needs to be communicated accurately, clearly and simply to all concerned employees, and in this case, the exact words can be used.

About the Author

Marie-Pier Rochon has been writing since 2005. She has served as a writer at PlaceForPoeple and a newsletter writer for the Creative Sydney festival. Previously, Rochon also worked as a communications adviser for various Canadian federal agencies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in organizational communications from the University of Ottawa.