brand claim



    In my business I have clients. And many people would agree the first order of business in a service industry is to make the client happy – make them comfortable. When companies need brand strategy help, it’s typically because they’re experiencing some chaos in their marketing. So, to a degree, they are already uncomfortable. The question is, is it my job to make them comfortable? Well, yes. Certainly. But only comfortable in their decisions about the brand plan. Comfort resides in the decisions they make that will improve business.

    But getting to those decisions can be discomforting. And that, too, is my job.

    I’ve written a number of times in this blog how some of my brand claims contain a single word clients find awkward. They approve of the strategy but the mention of one word unsettles them. It’s like if you have a big nose, you don’t like to talk about noses. My response to these clients is “we don’t have to use the word” – my claims are not taglines – “but we do have to follow the idea.” With that explanation, I almost always get agreement. “Leave it to the agency to deliver the word.”

    Sometimes I wonder if my job it to make clients comfortable to uncomfortable. I am not in the gladhanding business, I’m in the improving business business. And you can’t do that without breaking a few eggs.

    So long as you are honest. So long as you are truthful. So long as you are being true to the product and the consumer, a little discomfort is healthy.




    Brand Claim Efficacy.


    Having spent 2,900 blog posts explaining the importance of brand strategy, it might be time to talk about what makes a good strategy. If you may need a refresher on what a brand strategy framework is, it is a simple claim and proof plank array; one claim (a boil down of customer care-abouts and brand good-ats), and three proof planks.

    What makes a good brand claim?  My fallbacks when teaching claims are “Coke is refreshment” and “the worlds’ information in one click” for Google.  What makes these claims so great? Well, obviously they meet the care-abouts and good-ats criteria. Also, they are endemic values which makes the claims ownable and defensible. But another critical indicator of a good claim value is measurability. A claim has to be measurable.

    The Google claim is perfectly tied to the product using one click and information. “Coke’s is refreshment” perfectly pairs the product (name) with the claim. In both cases a researcher can measure consumer belief of these claims – on an agreement scale. And we know attitudes precede behavior.

    But when claims are generic or are restatements of the ad campaign they’re wasteful.  “The best cancer care anywhere,” for a long time was the brand strategy (and tagline) for Memorial Sloan Cancer Center. It was provable from an attitude and clinical standpoint. Geisinger Health System’s “Better health, easier” is an indistinguishable claim. (Better than what?) It’s also a dual claim. Building demonstrations around a word like “better” in a crowded healthcare category is average brand craft at best.     

    When selecting your claim, make sure it’s not generic and make it measurable.



    Taglines and Brand Claims.



    Brand strategy claims, developed independent of an ad campaign are the way to go.  Taking a copywriter’s last sentence and turning it into a tagline is, forgive me, lazy. I can see why people do it, but its not very thoughtful. Or strategic.

    I’m in the brand strategy business. The deliverable I provide to clients is a brand claim plus three brand planks, also referred to as support planks.  The claim by itself is nothing more than advertising…telling people what you are (to them).  It’s the planks that carry the water — that make believers out of consumers.  

    The brand claim is strategic, not creative. That’s to give creative teams the ability to connect with culture in a timely fashion. To make ads that are more motivating and lively. Perhaps more fun and memorable.  But I’ve had a run lately of brand claims that have become taglines. Partly because they are short. Maybe offering a bit of poesy. (Not my words a colleague’s.)

    While on this roll I seem to have settled on shorter claims. More pregnant claims. Even two word efforts.  And I think is may be bleeding into the area of creative, which is not my day job.

    Sometimes longer and more explicit is better. So long as it is not a compound sentence or filled with conjunctions. One idea yes.  Explicit yeser.




    Brand Claims Need Proof Planks.


    An accountant and consulting company I know announced a brand overhaul yesterday. They redesigned the logo and changed the company description. The descriptor used to say “Accountants and Success Consultants,” today it reads “Advisors and Accountants.” The new descriptor beats the old in so far as specificity goes.

    The company’s new tagline is “Strength In Certainty.” Effectively, it is the brand claim. Everyone wants an accountant that is certain. One who knows the tax code and can give optimal advice. So certainty works here. It’s binary. Black or white.

    But every brand claim needs support planks or as I call them brand planks; the evidentiary principles that allows consumers to believe the claim. In everything I read about the brand claim, I found no organized support planks. Without support, a claim is just a claim. It’s just advertising.

    Many brand consultants or so-called brand advisor/experts, fall short when it comes to proof planks. And without proof in your brand strategy, you are missing the most important component.



    The Brand Claim.








    Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is credited with saying “Prose = words in their best order; Poetry = the best words in the best order.”

    One of the nicest things ever said by a fellow brand planner about my work product was there was a sense of poesy about it. I like to think he was referring to my brand claims. Typically, they are brief. And they are always pregnant. A number of claims have ended up being taglines because to the ear they sounded memorable. I rather not label them creative. If they smack of a creative spin they clank when shared with a real creative team.

    Landing on the best words in the best order is how you know you are done with a brand claim.

    “Campaigns come and go…a powerful brand idea is indelible” is a phrase that best embodies brand strategy. And that powerful brand idea is the claim.

    As a brand strategy consultant, I’m not in the business of creating ad campaigns. I’m in the business of directing creative conception. The brand claim is the best, most lucrative, most efficient means by which to create good marketing work and judge good marketing work. It is the single most important element of brand strategy.

    The best words in the best order.


    (For examples of What’s The Idea? brand claims, please write


    Fast and Easy….Bad.


    I asked a cohort with an aspiring web business what s/he wanted consumers to take away from the web experience – the brand experience – and the answer was it’s “fast and easy” for the user and “a traffic source and stress free” for the vendors who pay to be on the site.   

    Consumers and vendors want these things, I know.  I worked at a web start up that wasn’t easy to use. And when something is not easy it’s not apt to be fast.  But today, my friends, fast and easy are the price of entry in a web site or app. (The only time you want to push fast and easy is when the functionality of the product or service is expected to be plodding and complicated — read: trips to the DMV or reading a financial disclosure statement.) Most of the time brand strategy should not be about price of entry values.

    The values you need to position around should be human and endemic to the category. The more emotional, the better. Emotions are flypaper to consumers.

    I watch Hallmark movies with my wife to balance the bang, bang, bang stuff I favor.  The movies are all the same story-wise but never fail to get me to tear up at the end. It’s a formula. When planners are mining the brand claim, they need to think emotional and endemic. Not just in a passage in the brief but in the claim itself.

    Heavy lifting admittedly. But your creative team will appreciate it.




    Claim About a Brand Claim.


    What’s The Idea?, a brand strategy consultancy, provides two key services: brand strategy and marketing plans.  Marketing plans are certainly more of a commodity. What makes ours different from your garden variety marketing plan is the brand idea and proof array are embedded.  In other words, the tactics are intrinsically tied to the brand care-abouts and good-ats.

    But the bread and butter, what I get most excited about, is the creation of the brand “claim.”  That’s what sets What’s The Idea? apart.  I’ve been told WTI brand claims offer a bit of poesy or poetry.  They are therefore more memorable. “Low cost provider. Best customer care. Most innovative.” These are not What’s The Idea? claims.  

    It’s made me wonder if one can tell a WTI claim apart from that of other brand strategy shops? What would a claim from an Interbrand or Landor look like next to mine? This is going to require a bit of research. I’ll take it as an action item and report back.

    Maybe then we’ll do a side-by-side comparison for shits and giggs.