Brand Strategy: The Brand Promise, Part 2

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The Brand Promise is about behavior toward customers.

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A Brand Promise often gets confused with two close relatives: Mission Statement and Tagline. But each of these is different and serves a unique purpose.

Case in point: global brand powerhouse Coca-Cola. Just reading the name conjures up many brand impressions – the iconic logo and packaging, Coke red, celebrity endorsers, the taste profile, effervescence, flavor and formula varieties, and more.

But what is the Brand Promise of Coke? If you ask five friends that question, you’ll probably get five different answers. Here are some well-known marketing messages connected to the Coke brand:

  • Teaching the world to sing in harmony
  • You Can’t Beat the Real Thing
  • Coca-Cola. Enjoy.
  • Open Happiness
  • Taste the Feeling

These messages point to the Brand Promise, but none of them are it. Instead, these are all advertising themes or Taglines. In form, a Tagline is a customer-facing message that punctuates marketing campaigns. In function, a Tagline delivers a consistent and memorable brand message. It serves as an ambassador for the Brand Promise.

Other famous Taglines include Nike’s “Just Do It,” Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15%,” and Southwest Airline’s “Transfarency.” In each case they communicate a rational and/or emotive benefit to the customer that can be tied back to the Brand Promise.

Here is another message from Coca-Cola that has been attributed as its Brand Promise by some, which it is not:

To refresh the world…to inspire moments of optimism and happiness…to create value and make a difference.

This is, instead, the actual company Mission Statement. Functionally, the Mission Statement articulates strategic purpose – not only for customers, but also for employees, investors, suppliers, and the community at large. It is closely aligned with the Brand Promise, but it is still different.

So what exactly is the Brand Promise? Simply put: it’s the “what’s in it for the customer.” Coca-Cola defines it this way on their website:

Be the brand: inspire creativity, passion, optimism and fun.

The Brand Promise is about behavior toward customers. A Tagline helps us remember; a Mission Statement rallies us around purpose; but the Brand Promise is our commitment to action.

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