What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

  • Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.
  • Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.
  • Brand tagline: This is the classic phrase intended to make the brand’s positioning memorable to the customer. And the classic example is Nike’s “Just do it.” The swoosh represents immediacy, movement, urgency, determination, and drive and the tagline captures the essence of the brand perfectly. That tagline is used, very deliberately and repeatedly, in advertisements. And it positions the product. Even though Nike sneakers, athletic wear, and so on do not in my view particularly make you more likely to “just do it,” the tagline and brand positioning are so effective that they do brainwash you into thinking that the act of buying makes you a champion. (Theoretically the mantra and the tagline could be one and the same, but you would have to develop a strategy around that which speaks to employees and customers alike - it’s not automatic.)
Originally posted in response to a question on Quora. All opinions my own. Public domain photo via Pixabay.


Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, www.AllThingsBrand.com and www.DannielleBlumenthal.com, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.