If you don’t have something true to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Today I read an article that struck a chord. The article, BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’ Slogan Becoming Toxic, highlighted the widespread disappointment BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’ campaign has created.  For the most part, I agree.  The slogan seems ridiculous in the aftermath of one of the worst oil disasters in history. And as the article points out, their lofty promises only serve to make the fiasco worse. It feels like a sucker punch to those who bought into it, and validation to those who maintained a skeptical stance.

This is a great lesson for companies within any industry. What you say really does matter. The words that you use to brand your company become your brand promise. BP’s brand promise was focused on its commitment to improving the environment.  The bad news for BP is that brand promises equate to consumer expectations.  When you attach a statement to you brand, you better be ready to deliver.  If you don’t, the damage to your brand will be exponentially worse than if you had never said anything at all.

Make sure the slogan you choose for your brand is consistent with what is going on behind closed doors.  Advertising can create an image for a company, but it is the reinforcement of that image that really creates brand equity.  Nike has used ‘Just Do It’ for years.  It continues to work because they continue to embody that statement.  They endorse the best athletes, support collegiate athletic programs and put out great gear.  Choose a statement that reflects what is already great about your company, or if you are undergoing a fundamental change in corporate values, make sure that you’re walking the walk before you go public.

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