Warning: exaggerating is not good branding

Be sure to be truthful or...Quite often we see brands making claims or offering benefits that are incredulous.

The product or service may be tops in its category and perform up to expectations, but an unbelievable statement of superiority will cause prospects to shy away, and perhaps even scoff.
Credibility is so important in building trust for a brand that any hint of exaggeration can be detrimental. Remember that folks have long memories, particularly about negative or untruthful claims. And even if a statement is true, it may not be creditable, so be careful that your enthusiasm doesn’t carry you away. Look at those claims from a customer’s point of view.

Even attempts at humor along these lines (Dairy Queen’s “cats in a bubble” ad, for instance) tend to diminish the brand’s credibility.

Now I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’ve seen advertisers time and again allow their brands to be diluted because of an over-zealous ad agency foisting exaggerated claims or absolutely unreal scenarios under the label of “creativity”.

I’m all for creativity, but I want an ad agency to be respectful of the brand and its values. I wouldn’t hire an agency unless it initially asked, “May I study your brand platform?”.

In dealing with “creatives” I’d be sure they reviewed my brand platform, knew its promise to customers and treated the brand with reverence. And I’d be sure your every utterance at all touchpoints reflected your brand’s values – honestly, creditably and realistically.

3 thoughts on “Warning: exaggerating is not good branding

  1. Exaggeration is a classic creative advertising technique in advertising, and you’r saying that nowadays advertising creatives should stop using it, or maybe you’r addressing this statement to a particular product/service group or niche? IMO exaggerations does not show any signs of disrespect to the brand and it’s values, if it’s used correctly to represent brands values in a way, that allows audience to “get” what you want to say. In case of correctly executed exaggeration, the viewer understands what is being exaggerated and still perceives it in it’s true/clear form. Mainly it depends on skills and experience of the creatives, I believe that an expert in creative field of advertising can use exaggeration technique without conflicting with your brand’s values.

  2. Quazi:

    Credibility is the issue here. If exaggeration is used to make a point tongue-in-cheek, and it’s clear that it’s “all in fun”, I concede exaggeration may be OK, even appropriate.

    But how many times have you scoffed at an advertising claim because you believe it’s untrue and they’re attempting to convince you that it is? This happens so often that “advertising” has been soiled by it.

    That’s why Al and Laura Ries wrote “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR”.

    My background is advertising and copywriting. I literally sat at the feet of John Caples as a cub writer at BBDO in 1959. But today’s ad writers and ad agencies, by and large, believe “creative”, including a large dose of exaggeration will get consumer attention, never mind if it also draws scoffs and sorts. for them, creative is more important than credibility, and more important than good taste as well.

    If I were hiring an agency today, my first filter would be to find those who are passionate followers of David Ogilvy. I want my agency to first be true to the brand, and second, find the compelling sales triggers within the brand.

  3. Well, then it’s all about the appropriate and ethical usage of exaggeration. And unfortunately it’s all about the results, and not so much about creativity and ethics. It’s today’s advertising, of course not everything, but most of it.

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