What Is a Brand Promise?

Sheri Cyprus

A brand promise is a concise statement a company makes about its product or itself both to differentiate from competitors' offerings and communicate unique benefits to its target market. This statement is also called a "tag line" and it usually appears underneath the company or product name and logo. The brand promise often helps convince the targeted consumer into at least trying the company's products.

Coca-Cola makes the promise that it is "the real thing."
Coca-Cola makes the promise that it is "the real thing."

For example, the Coca-Cola Company's tag line "It's the real thing" communicates its established history as having the first soft drink. Since other companies have made their own version of cola, the brand promise is that this one is the genuine, original soft drink. The consumer is getting the benefit of having the original product, not an imitator's. For a new cola trying to compete on the market, the promise and appeal to consumers would have to be that because it's different, it's better. For instance, the manufacturer may create a cola with a unique flavor or combination of flavors and promise that the brand will offer a "new taste sensation" or something similar.

Brand promises can often be found on the product packaging.
Brand promises can often be found on the product packaging.

All types of products can have brand promises. "The Quicker Picker Upper" is the tag line or branding promise for Bounty paper towels. As all paper towel products are designed to basically do the same thing — wipe up spills — the statement helps set the brand apart from others by communicating its benefit of fast absorbency. Services are also promoted with a brand promise. For instance, the classic Greyhound bus lines tag line "Leave the driving to us" communicates the benefit of passengers not having to drive to their destination, but rather letting the company handle it.

Brand promises are created during marketing campaigns when there are no existing tag lines. If a product or company has a tag line, but it's not seen as being as successful in reaching its target audience, then changing the brand promise is often part of re-branding in the marketing strategy. Depending on what marketing professionals think, even the name of a product may change as well as the brand tag line, or promise. If the product or service being promoted doesn't live up to its promise statement, it's likely not going to sell well. A copywriter or marketing manager may come up with the tag line or brand promise as the first part of image strategy for a re-branded or new product or company.

A good brand promise needs to be kept to as few words as possible so it is memorable yet meaningful for the target market. Brand strategy, including tag lines must fit in with all of a product's or service's marketing mix if the item is to be promoted successfully. For instance a brand promise or tag line that is something like "Helping you save money" may fit a budget item, but not a pricey, luxury one.

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