Promise Versus Claim.

Any brand planner worth his or her salt uses the word promise. I use it all the time. That said, as I codify and package my practice–trying to explain to business owners and marketing people what brand planning is–I gravitate toward the word “claim.” Branding is all about “claim and proof.”

The word promise is so much nicer it seems. Softer. More forgiving. Claim, on the other hand, feels boastful. Perhaps full of itself. The fact that most advertising is claim-based rather than promise-based is not a trivial obstacle either, when it comes to defending claim vs. promise. I am undaunted; it’s still all about the claim. Why? Because consumers want value they can count on. If consumers are let down by the claim and they really care, they will say so. They will rebel. Sales will take a hit. With a promise the whole position and sales thing is more nebulous.

A brand with a claim needs to prove it every day. A brand with a promise has leeway. Less urgency. I won a huge piece of business once by telling a multi-billion dollar company they had a great claim, but weren’t proving it. The fastest way to return on strategy (ROS) is to have a claim.

When your brand lacks real proof of value, it’s time to trot out the promise. Which is about as satisfying as bad margarine. Peace.

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