I never cease to be amazed how many organizations still don't 'get' the concept of a brand promise. They don't understand they need to deliver the brand experience they promise in their tagline, positioning and marketing messages.
Comcast is a great example of a brand that doesn't deliver on its promise. The huge cable systems operator has been running its 'Comcastic' campaign for years. But, as any Comcast subscriber will tell you, the service (and, in particular, the customer service) is anything but fantastic. It's positively dreadful. A better, more realistic brand promise from Comcast might be: 'ComPoor' or 'ComAwful." A brand shouldn't raise consumers expectations by promising one experience and then delivering another.
New Jersey Transit is my personal bête noir. The local transit system heralds itself as 'the way to go.' Now, anyone who routinely rides NJT's trains will tell you it is anything BUT the way to go. It's a necessary evil that one has to take because alternative solutions are either cost or location prohibitive. NJT trains are habitually late, staffed by rude or indifferent conductors and feature restrooms that are definitely NOT the way (or place) to go.
I originally suggested the powers that be at NJT supplant 'The way to go' with 'Just train bad.' I think they may not have understood my purposeful double entendre and ignored it. So, instead, I'm suggesting NJT adopt a shorter, more direct brand promise that perfectly manages expectations and can be delivered every single day. I'm calling it: 'expect less.'
I love 'expect less.' It works in every conceivable way. In fact, I've actually adopted 'expect less' as my personal, tongue-in-cheek brand promise for my upcoming year as chairman of the College of Charleston advisory board.
Speaking of the CofC, Tom Martin, executive-in-residence at the College of Charleston (and one of the all-time great Peppercom clients, btw) recently created a classic brand promise slide you should check out.
It lists what brands say about themselves and what we, as consumers, really think about them. It's worth a gander.