Companies often spend many hours and many thousands of rand on developing their brand slogan or ‘tag line’. And so they should. This catch phrase has the potential to become the one thing that places them top of mind amongst their customers and prospects by describing the kind of customer experience they can expect when dealing with the organisation.

Over time, the correct brand slogan can often become as powerful as the brand name it supports. Take Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ for instance. There are few people in the world who would even need to see the Nike name to know which brand this hugely successful slogan belongs to. Other excellent examples include Snap, Crackle, Pop; Everywhere you go; and I’m lovin’ it.

What makes these such successful slogans for their respective brands is the fact that the organisations to which they apply have understood, from the outset, that their slogan is not just a cute string of words; it’s a promise made by their brand to their customers. Kelloggs, for instance, knows that if their Rice Krispies are not absolutely fresh, Snap, Crackle, Pop is likely to be reduced to Wheeze, Splutter, Sink. So they have put in place every possible quality standard and control in place to make sure their product lives up to its promise.

Unfortunately that’s not always the case. Many companies still fall into the trap of developing brand slogans that actually end up being brand destroyers rather than builders. That’s because these slogans raise the customer’s expectation of an excellent experience, but the delivery of such an experience by a company never quite delivers on the brand promise it makes.

Take Standard Bank’s ‘Simpler. Better. Faster.’ slogan of a few years back. While it’s a fantastic customer experience promise, it’s virtually impossible to deliver 100% of the time – even if your company is filled with passionate customer service champions. And every time you fail to live up to the promise, your brand dies a little in the mind of your customers. Small wonder this particular tag line quickly gave way to the more realistic (and less specific) promise of ‘Moving Forward’.

A further example of a particularly challenging South African brand promise comes from another of our banks. This time it’s FNB’s promise of service excellence implied in its ‘How can we help you?’ slogan. On the face of it, this is an excellent tag line. It promises a bank that’s ready, willing and able to be there for its customers and deliver whatever service they need to realise their personal objectives. Unfortunately, it’s also a promise that any company would be very hard pressed to keep. And I know I’m not alone when I say that every time I encounter internet banking problems, am kept waiting in a branch, or have to deal with a disempowered employee that actually can’t help me, the ‘How can we help you?’ brand slogan rings loudly in my ears as a very false promise.

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that the cardinal sin of parenting is breaking your promises to your kids. It leaves them disappointed, disillusioned and a little less trusting of what you promise in the future. And customers are no different. Which is why, if you are serious about creating brilliant customer experiences, you need to understand that it starts with your company slogan and the expectations it creates. So, if your business has a slogan, make sure it’s a promise you can always keep.

By: Nathalie Schooling