Is Your Brand Promise Your Tagline?

Here’s a secret. You can line up five marketing consultants and ask them this question: Is your brand promise your tagline? And you’ll get five different answers. I’ll spare you the details. But this is a hotly debated topic. My opinion?  

If you can make your promise your tagline, great!

Your brand promise is a promise to your customers.  

Would you promise your best friend something and never tell her you promised it? Would you get married without speaking your wedding vows? (ok, maybe you would...it’s your day...no judgment! The point is...how would it make sense for you to not tell your customers the promise you’ve made them?

You started your business for a reason. You have something to offer the world. Something to make your people’s lives better. You have standards you’ve set for yourself and everyone who works for you. These all feed into what in marketing jargon we call your brand promise. 

And yes, in everything you do, you implicitly tell your customers what you’ve promised. But, they don’t get to hold you accountable for that implicit promise. You haven’t explicitly communicated the promise to them, so they don’t explicitly know what it is.

Your tagline can be more than a slogan. Your tagline can be your promise. 

If you do use your promise as your tagline, or choose to communicate your promise via your tagline (a subtle but real difference), be careful to not make it sound to salesy or slogany. This is even more important for startups, small businesses, and solopreneurs.

People want to be communicated to as people. In endowing your tagline with your promise, you’re thinking of your tagline as more than just some catchy words that will grab attention and stick in people’s heads. I’m all about marketing that matters, marketing with purpose, and never marketing for marketing’s sake. So a tagline that doubles as your promise fits right in with that philosophy.

Be authentic and people will trust you. And believe you. And choose to do business with you.

your brand promise can be your tagline.

Communicating your brand promise explicitly in your tagline doesn’t excuse you from doing the work of the brand promise in the first place.

You might still have a version of your brand promise that is for internal use only. And you certainly will have dug through some verbose and less catchy phrases than “a diamond is forever” in order to get down to that simplified essence of your promise. Keep the verbose one so that you -- and your employees -- know what the essence really is meant to state. 

Think of the brand promise as the work you do before the tagline. 

People often describe a tagline as being an emotionally-driven statement on how people will feel if they do business with you, used to drive them to take action (the action being to do business with you).  

Take, for example, BMW’s “the ultimate driving experience.”  

Isn’t that also the company’s promise? I’m sure they have a much more verbose promise statement, and probably mission and vision statements, too. But if every employee has in their head at all times, “I’m creating the ultimate driving experience,” that’s enough to ensure everyone’s moving in the same direction.  

And, at the same time, this statement makes a very clear promise to the consumer. You’re not just buying a car. You’re investing in a driving experience. And there’s none better than this one. It’s the ultimate driving experience.