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The marketing world is full of terms that overlap and confuse: tagline, slogan, motto, brand promise, and brand purpose are a few of the many examples. It’s no wonder most of us get them mixed up.

To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter what labels you give your brand strategy efforts. Customers have the final word, anyway: as Marty Neumeier says in the book The Brand Gap, “Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”

Still, the concepts of brand promise and brand slogans are worth untangling; they're often the goalposts customers use—even if subconsciously—to measure their customer experiences.

Your brand promise speaks to the core customer expectations about what your brand experience will be like. It’s unlikely to change much over time. Meanwhile, slogans are catchy statements created specifically for advertising your brand and its products.

Although you’re not in full control of how your brand is perceived, you can use these tools to nudge customers to see your brand in a certain way. A well-crafted brand promise and slogan can be the difference between an army of customer advocates and a muddled message that fails to break through the noise. Combined with your CX strategy, both can be very powerful tools.

What Is A Brand Slogan?

Brand slogans are memorable statements used to promote your brand’s product or service. The term “slogan” is often used interchangeably with the term “tagline,” but there’s a subtle difference:

  • Taglines are focused on the essence of your brand and don’t change often.
  • Slogans are focused on short-term marketing goals. New slogans can be created for each campaign.

For example, Salesforce’s tagline is “The Customer Company.” But Salesforce has also seen many slogans come and go over the years, including a 2019 campaign that featured the slogan “We bring companies and customers together.”

As in Salesforce’s case, slogans can focus on a brand’s mission statement or company values. Or, they might just be a catchy way to differentiate a product or service, like Paddle’s slogan, “The only complete billing solution for SaaS**.”** Slogans can also seek to inspire. Twilio, a customer messaging platform, used the slogan “Unlock digital greatness” to promote one of its latest products.

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Examples of Brand Slogans

The best SaaS brand slogans are aspirational and memorable, while still tying in to the brand’s core messaging, brand values, and mission:

  1. Adobe Creative Cloud: "Creativity for all."
    • Impact: Years ago, Adobe’s design software had a high learning curve. Today, its suite of products includes many tools for beginners. Adobe’s “Creativity for all” slogan is part of a campaign to expand the brand’s audience by connecting with newer creators.
  2. Slack: "Where the future works.”
    • Impact: Slack’s brand is about remote work. But even more than that, it’s about unlocking different ways of working. “Where the future works” aligns Slack with a transformational approach to work, which the company backs up with initiatives like the Future Forum.
  3. HubSpot: "Grow better."
    • Impact: HubSpot’s core brand messaging is about “succeeding with a soul” by helping customers rather than relying on pushy sales methods. The ultra-short slogan “Grow better” is aspirational and provides an immediate positive association with HubSpot’s platform.

How Does A Slogan Impact Customer Experience?

When done right, a slogan is a powerful gateway to the customer experience. Slogans create an emotional connection starting from your customer’s first exposure to your brand. This sets the stage for a smooth onboarding and, eventually, brand advocacy.

Slogans improve the customer experience by:

  • Ensuring consistent messaging across your website, ads, and marketing materials.
  • Helping you quickly differentiate your products and services.
  • Making your brand “stickier” and more memorable.

One thing to keep in mind, though:

Just as you can’t totally control how customers perceive your brand, you can’t control how a slogan affects your customers. A 2011 study detailed in Harvard Business Review found that overtly persuasive slogans can cause customers to subconsciously do the opposite of what you’d like them to do, in an effect called “reverse priming.” In the study, participants who read the slogan “Luxury, you deserve it” decided to spend 26% less. Curiously, those who read “Dress for less” spent 29% more.

What’s the lesson? No one likes to feel like they’re being persuaded. Combat this effect by avoiding overly salesy language and keeping your slogan inspirational or benefits-focused.

What Is A Brand Promise?

Your brand promise describes the core commitment your company makes to your customers.

Over time, you’ll use many slogans across your marketing campaigns, but your brand promise should be so timeless as to stay the same for years or decades; it’s not connected to any specific product or service, but to your overall brand experience.

Your brand promise might be explicitly spelled out for your target audience through a tagline, like Mixpanel’s “Simple and powerful analytics that helps everyone make better decisions.” Or, it might be more of an internal guidepost to keep your brand aligned. If you haven’t articulated a brand promise, your customers will piece one together anyway based on your brand positioning, value proposition, brand personality, and the overall expectations that your branding creates.

Examples of Brand Promises

Strong brand promises make a concrete commitment that not only helps customers understand what to expect, but also starts the brand relationship off on the right foot. Your brand promise doesn’t need to be the same as your tagline, but it can be:

  1. Dropbox: “All your stuff, anywhere.”
    • Impact: It doesn’t get simpler than this. Dropbox’s brand promise succinctly captures the core appeal of its product—the fact that wherever you are, you have access to your digital files.
  2. Ahrefs: “Everything you need to rank higher & get more traffic.”
    • Impact: Ahrefs’ brand promise makes it clear that if you buy their tool, you’ll have everything you need to help your website succeed.
  3. Fujitsu: “Shaping tomorrow with you.”
    • Impact: Fujitsu’s brand promise is all about collaboration—”co-creating with our partners and customers” to develop new technologies that transform the way we live and work.

How Does A Brand Promise Impact Customer Experience?

56% of customers agree that to stay with a brand long-term, a feeling of connection is a must. A successful brand promise—one that you follow through on—builds trust. And when you build enough trust over time, your brand promise becomes the start of greater customer loyalty and brand affinity.

A brand promise also creates accountability. If your brand strays from its original promise, customers will be proactive in nudging you back.

Meanwhile, within your company your brand promise helps keep stakeholders aligned around delivering on what you’ve promised to customers.

For customers, a brand promise:

  • Sets clear expectations and communicates benefits
  • Makes it easy to hold your brand accountable
  • Fosters trust through transparency

For your company, a brand promise:

  • Provides a CX north star
  • Aligns organizational focus
  • Helps attract ideal customers

Why Does This Distinction Matter?

The distinction between brand promises and slogans matters for one reason in particular:

Effective brand management.

As a big-picture branding activity, your brand promise comes first. The promise you commit to informs the marketing slogans you’ll consider later. Without identifying your brand promise first, your brand is at risk of jumping from one slogan to another without an obvious link to connect all of your brand’s efforts.

Articulating a clear brand promise is a chance to stand out, build trust, and leave a memorable impression with customers. And once you have a brand promise you’ll be more effective than ever at creating slogans for your marketing campaigns, knowing that you can refer back to your brand promise to make sure everything aligns.

Crafting Your Distinct Brand Identity

A brand isn’t just a logo or a product; it's a living entity with a personality, values, and a promise to uphold. Understanding the difference between a brand promise and a slogan will help you shape customer perceptions, nurture relationships, and guide your company's trajectory—giving you a more consistent, compelling brand image than competitors and a deeper relationship with customers.

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Ryan Kane
By Ryan Kane

Ryan Kane has been researching, writing about and improving customer experiences for much of his career and in a wide variety of B2B and B2C contexts, from tech startups and agencies to a manufacturer for Fortune 500 clients.