A brand promise is what your company or brand commits to delivering for everyone who interacts with you. Your brand promise is a pledge, an assurance, or a guarantee that identifies what your customers can expect each and every time they connect with your company—whether it’s through your people, your marketing materials, or your products or services.
What makes a brand promise compelling? An effective brand promise must create distinction for your company’s offerings, and connect your purpose, positioning, and strategy. It must describe what customers can expect to receive beyond your product or service. It is more than a purchase—it is an experience, engaging your customers emotionally and allowing you to differentiate from your competitors. When working with our clients to help them develop their brand promise successfully we use our ‘Personality Profile Performer System™’.
Your brand promise presents a compelling reason for customers to buy from you, to return for repeat business—and most importantly, to become brand ambassadors, spreading the word about your company organically and enthusiastically.
Image via www.virgin.com
What Your Brand Promise Should (and Should Not) Be
Organizations often make the mistake of conflating brand promise with marketing. At one end, they may trot out clinically dry descriptions of products or services, on the premise that a brand “speaks for itself.” And on the other, they might make grand and ultimately meaningless statements, replete with abused superlatives such as “best practice”, “world class”, and “market leader.”
However, what truly works as a brand promise is not something in the middle, but rather a presentation that takes an entirely different approach to your offerings. A strong brand promise describes how people should feel when they interact with your brand, how your company delivers its products or services, and what sort of character your company embodies.
Image via www.nfl.com
To illustrate this idea in action, here are some powerful brand promises from highly successful brands:
- The NFL: ‘To be the premier sports and entertainment brand that brings people together, connecting them socially and emotionally like no other’
- Virgin: ‘To be the consumer champion while being genuine, fun, contemporary and different in everything we do at a reasonable price’
- Apple: ‘To make insanely great, imaginative, cool, easy-to-use, cutting edge products that enrich peoples lives’
- Coca-Cola: ‘To inspire moments of optimism and happiness’
Typically, a strong brand promise will achieve three key objectives:
- It must convey a compelling benefit and emotionally resonate
- It must be authentic and credible
- The promise must be kept…every time
Any brand can create a compelling brand promise. However, the best and most successful brands will also demonstrate a proven track record of delivering on those promises. A powerful brand does not simply “talk the talk” — it “walks the walk,” consistently and reliably.
The Brand Promise At Work
McDonalds is the brand heard ’round the world. With over 33,000 restaurants in 119 countries, the company has to be doing something right—and the core of their success is their brand promise. They are the first job for many, involved with local communities and always seeking new ways to improve what they do best. When customers see the Golden Arches, they know what they can expect: simple, easy enjoyment with great service, cleanliness and value.
This is the brand promise McDonalds stands behind. Their more recent slogan, “I’m lovin’ it,” is a simple phrase in itself, one that can be translated easily within every international market the company serves. The McDonalds brand promise is effective, because the company consistently delivers uncomplicated fun with value and service to customer after customer.
Image via www.mcdonalds.com
Effective brand promises aren’t limited to the inexpensive and widely available, either. Successful luxury brands are also making a promise—that customers are paying a higher price, and in return receiving exceptional quality, value, and prestige.
European hotelier Kempinski has a stated purpose of “serving guests who expect excellence and value individuality.” As Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group and a five star prestigious brand, Kempinski promises more than lodgings—the company delivers an unforgettable experience for each and every customer by providing “luxurious hospitality in the grand European style.” They believe life should be lived with style!
Start Where You Want To End Up, and Watch Your Brand Take Off
If your brand is already successful, chances are you’re already clear on what you promise your customers—and you’ve managed to consistently keep your brand promise.
On the other hand, if…
- You’re in the process of redefining a flagging brand
- You haven’t started your branding process yet or developed a strong brand strategy
- You want to know more about the reasons behind your successful brand, so you can maintain that success in the future
It’s essential to define exactly what your brand promises to your customers. This process begins with research into your market, your target audience, competitors, and business environment. What do your customers really want? How are they getting it now—and how can your offering add even more value to those desires?
Your brand promise should deliver something your target audience really wants, but can’t get elsewhere. Remember, you’re creating an experience for your customers. When you define a unique brand promise first, and then consistently deliver, you’re making it easier for your business to keep that promise and realize branding success.
Earning Your Brand Promise
Once you’ve defined your brand promise, you need to focus on ensuring that you’re delivering on that promise—every time. Every aspect of your business should reflect what you stand for in your brand, from marketing to employee-customer interaction.
A brand that keeps its promises is virtually unbreakable. This is what kept Microsoft from knocking Google off the search engine throne with its “Bing It On” campaign, which attempted to convince consumers that real people choose Bing’s search results over Google.
The campaign failed to make a dent in the search engine giant’s market share—because Google’s brand promise is too strong. Their search engine consistently delivers what people want.
You Don’t Have to be Huge
Many smaller businesses make the mistake of thinking that only large corporations have the resources to consistently keep brand promises. The truth is, great branding is powerful enough to carry any business model successfully—when it’s done right.
Take, for example, The Ginger Pig. This London artisan butchery uses the brand promise of quality meats that taste great due to the care and effort they put forth in raising farm animals. The company emphasizes this brand promise through The Ginger Pig website, which opens with a brief and intriguing story about how they came to be—and their philosophy that well looked-after livestock simply tastes better.
Image via www.thegingerpig.co.uk
Is your company still looking for that perfect branding strategy? Prepare for success by taking the time to really think about your brand promise—and to ensure that you can, and do, deliver. Whether you’re a brand new start-up, a local supplier, or a national or global business, decide what will make your brand distinctive and memorable—something that’s worth talking about—and focus on delivering every time.
When you deliver on your brand promise, you build customer trust. This translates into brand loyalty that markets itself. Word-of-mouth, particularly through social media, will carry your brand promise to an ever-widening audience. As new customers realize they’re actually getting what they were promised, you’ll find more brand ambassadors out there recommending your offerings, all of which will help increase your profitability.
The earlier you establish and maintain your brand promise,
the more successful your branding will be.
What do you think?
How is your brand walking the talk?
Can a brand exist without brand promise?
Is your brand promising something you can’t deliver?
How can you communicate your brand promise to your customers?
Share your thoughts in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.