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Paradox Promise

Often the best expression of a brand essence is a paradox promise. The concept of the paradox promise underpins many brands’ promised experience. Consumers hate to trade-off benefits. If you want to drink a diet cola, it is certainly much better to have one that has only 1 calorie and also tastes great. Madge the manicurist once promised for Palmolive dishwashing liquid, “It’s hard on dishes. It’s soft on your hands.” Miller Lite defined the light beer market as promising “Great taste. Less filling.” Paradox promises can be terrific opportunities. It is worth a lot when you own a paradox promise in the customer’s mind.[14]

[14] For an interesting perspective on paradox promise, namely Reingold, Jennifer, “Target’s Inner Circle,” Fortune, March 31, 2008: “Target markets itself to the Lexus set as a designer haven while at its core it makes money selling commodities such as bleach and cereal.” A former Target executive is quoted as saying, “People have within themselves a paradox. Fit in and belong; and also stand out and be unique. Target does both: mass and class.”

Paradox Promises

  • Fun and functional— Mazda Miata

  • Collectible art and great value— The Franklin Mint

  • Low fat/fewer calories and great taste— Lean Cuisine

  • Refreshing taste and no calories— Diet Coke

  • High-tech, cool, and easy to use— Apple IMac

  • Waterproof and breathable— Gore-Tex

  • Individuality and fitting in— The Gap

  • European luxury, latest technology, and Japanese reliability— Lexus


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