A brand promise is a short simple statement that tells a customer what they can expect from your brand.
Essentially, the brand promise describes the quality of the products, services and customer experience.
What is the Definition of a Brand?
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.Definition of a brand from the Amercian Association of Marketing
The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.
What is a Brand Promise?
A brand promise is a value or experience a company’s customers can expect to receive every single time they interact with that company. The more a company can deliver on that promise, the stronger the brand value in the mind of customers and employees.
At the end of the day, a brand promise can be distilled to this simple formula: What You Do for Whom. I’m not claiming that the process of creating a brand promise is a simple one. It’s actually quite difficult.
But if you consider what makes your company special and use the building blocks listed above, you can create an effective brand promise that connects you—your brand—with your customers and your employees.
A good starting point is to define your business model – learn how to use the business model canvas. A further way to identify and create value is to define your value proposition and then use this to create your value statement.
Why is A Brand Promise Important?
Your promise to your customers is a critical part of your brand identity.
It is what you tell customers, either explicitly or implicitly, they can expect from your product or services. It sets their expectations on the quality of your products or services. In turn, this sets in a customers mind the value of your brand.
When the promise is broken your brand can lose its reputation, customers and hence market share.
Despite this, many brands fail to deliver on their promise for a variety of reasons. In particular, they fail to deliver on the customer experience – the interactions between the brand and the customers.
That shocking truth demonstrates why so many consumers don’t trust brands and in general marketing communications.
Foundations of a Powerful Brand Promise
- A Brand Promise Is: Simple
- A Brand Promise Is: Credible
- A Brand Promise Is: Unique
- A Brand Promise Is: Memorable
- A Brand Promise Is: Inspiring
How to Create Your Brand Promise
Like every other founding principle of your brand strategy, your brand promise is a distilled understanding of every aspect of your company. It’s created by carefully planning the reaction and impact you’re hoping to achieve.
Rather than describing how you do what you do, your brand promise should describe the experience you deliver. A brand promise is a way for consumers to hold you accountable to the standard that sets you apart.
Even the world’s best brand promises vary wildly in structure, purpose and tone. But to the eye of the trained marketer, most brand promises have some common traits show us what works best.
- List all the reasons customers choose your business and the attributes they count on only your company to deliver.
- Circle all the attributes you’re confident that you can deliver consistently and upon which you’re willing to stake your reputation.
- Put a check mark next to those attributes that are compelling to customers and to your internal team — the ones you can proudly rally around.
- Take the checked items and make a short list of business attributes that are most assured, most compelling, most believable, and most consistent with the character of your company.
Make your brand promise indicative of your brand experience, who you are, what you do or what makes you special. No marketing should exist without a purpose. This is your chance to communicate something vital about your experience, products, services or beliefs. Whatever that message is, it should say a lot about who you are.
These brand promises indicate specific experiences you can expect:
- The Judgement Free Zone –Planet Fitness
- Feel like a woman. –Revlon
We want to know why you matter. Since you probably sell or do the same thing as countless competitors, you should target an aspect of you are, what you do or who you do it for that makes you special. Use that differentiating factor to build your brand promise on authenticity.
These companies make it easy to understand why they’re different:
- Melts in your mouth, not in your hands –M&M’s
- Be the world’s number one source of information. –Google
You can’t prove or improve what you can’t measure. So strive to make your brand promise something that can be quantified, on a scale that’s easily understood, like:
Recognize these measurable brand promises?
- 15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance. –Geico
- You’re going to like the way you look. –Men’s Wearhouse*
*OK so maybe it’s not the strongest emotion, but it’s easy to measure whether you like or don’t like the way you look. And since their target demographic often prides themselves on not exerting too much effort on their appearance, “like” is a strong enough claim to be effective.
Creates Value with Actionable Language
Focus on the “why” of your goods. What’s the end game? What feeling or accomplishment can people count on you for? What’s the life-enriching purpose of your products or services? Do you provide peace of mind? Happiness? A competitive business edge?
More than just being descriptive or aspirational, your brand promise should be something you do to provide more value to your consumers. Not every business provides value through cost savings. This is your opportunity to communicate the intangible worth of what you do.
Without providing value, your brand promise is just a slogan.
These brands provide very different types of value, neither of which is cheap:
- Creating happiness through magical experiences. –Disney
- The pursuit of perfection. –Lexus
Short, sweet and easy-to-understand is always the best strategy for crafting a universally-understood concept. This principle is extra important if your brand emphasizes simplicity, like Uber. This app-based taxi alternative uses simple language and very plain words to communicate just how simple their service is: Tap a button, get a ride.
You don’t need adjectives to overcomplicate your message if you’re selling simplicity. So leave them out. If you need more than one breath to say it, it’s way too long. Try to stick with 10 words or less, even if your message is a bit more complex.
- The highest quality – the lowest prices. –Aldi
- Save money. Live better. –Walmart
Another key consideration is consistency. What’s the true message across your whole brand?
Yeti makes a wide range of premium outdoor products, from coolers to clothing. Their brand promise is to deliver exceptional performance and durability in any environment. No matter what they’re selling, that message works, because everything they make is high-quality and made for withstanding extreme elements.
Speaks to What Matters Most
Brand promises are not meant to prove you’re everything to everybody. That’s a dangerous pitfall of all marketing. Make some claims and take a stand that turns some people off. You’ll be glad you did when your core customers become loyal brand advocates.
Think about what matters to your consumers. Why do they want you around? What makes them tick? What do they care about? Use your brand promise to speak to the core of whatever that is.
How is that done well?
- Designed for the creative pursuit of being you. –Vans
- We provide for environmentally responsible adventure. –Patagonia
- Producing pure, quality products you can trust. –Earth’s Best Organic
3 Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Promise
What promises are you making to your clients? To motivate clients, a brand promise must achieve the following three goals:
- It must convey a compelling benefit
- It must be authentic & credible
- It must be kept, every time
Best EXAMPLES OF BRAND PROMISES
A promise can define a company in the marketplace. Below are a few examples of companies that create expectations and consistently deliver on them. Can you think of others?
1. Geico: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
This brand promise has become the basis of Geico’s entire marketing strategy, leading them to the top of the auto-insurance industry. Though a time-based promise can be tricky to keep, it’s easy to measure. Geico has done a great job at maintaining their image and keeping their promise.
2. Coors Light: “The World’s Most Refreshing Beer”
This straight-forward brand promise is both simple and informative, easily capturing the spirit of the company in one sentence. While “refreshing” may mean different things to different people, it’s overall concept for a light beer is generally agreed upon–and an amount of exaggeration is implied (and accepted) with the claim of “world’s most.”
3. Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
Coca-Cola’s brand promise takes a bit of a different route. It does not mention the product or service, but instead aims to convey a mindset held by all of those that are a part of the company. With a brand promise like this, Coca-Cola positions themselves as a lifestyle brand that is about much more than just manufacturing popular drinks.
4. BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”
This bold statement is the driving force behind BMW’s brand. They aim to produce only the most efficient and elegant vehicles and their brand promise states this with confidence.
5. Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Similar to Coca-Cola, this brand promise doesn’t even mention Nike products, but instead tells the consumer how they think and what they aim to do on a much larger scale than sports clothing and equipment.
6. Harley Davidson: “We are Harley Davidson.”
Harley Davidson have had a number of different brand promises through the years, but all of which revolve around the simple fact that there is nothing like a Harley. The cultural icon needs little explanation, and so their most recent brand promise doesn’t attempt to be anything but simple and to-the-point, promising a consistent experience with their company every single time.
7. Apple: “Think different.”
What started as a shrug to IBM’s “Think,” Apple’s brand promise is arguably the most famous slogan of all time and the key to Apple’s wild success in the computer industry. Apple’s brand promise is two-sided–their guarantee to create products based on seeing the world a little differently, and their promise to inspire their customers to do the same.
8. H&M: “More fashion choices that are good for people, the planet and your wallet.”
Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M says, “We have set ourselves the challenge of ultimately making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable.” This is a promise the brand achieves with sustainable materials in their product and consistently low prices.
9. Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
With the following as iconic as Apple, it’s no surprise that Starbucks provides a great brand promise example, and one they continue to deliver on. Like many company, Starbucks distinguished themselves as a lifestyle brand looking to bring much more to the world than a great cup of coffee.
10. Wegmans: “Consistent low prices.”
Wegman’s promises its shoppers something they can rely on – consistent low prices. Committed to customer satisfaction with every store experience, this company believes that families should be able to buy what they want, when they want it, instead of relying on coupons and what’s “on sale” each week.
11. Marriott: “Quiet luxury. Crafted experiences. Intuitive service.”
This brand promise example is all about a consistent experience. Whether you stay in a Marriott in New York City, California or Utah, you expect the same experience and service. If Marriott did not live up to this promise, they wouldn’t be one of the most successful companies in the hospitality industry today.
12. Walmart: “Save money. Live better.”
It’s no surprise that Walmart makes the list of great brand promise examples. By combining the obvious promise of low prices with emotional benefits, Walmart offers its shoppers a better quality of life with easy access to the necessities.
A few more examples of brand promises:
- FedEx — “Your package will get there overnight. Guaranteed.“
- McKinsey & Company — Hire the best minds in management consulting.
- Lynda.com — High-quality training that’s affordable and convenient.
- IDEO — Industrial design for companies that want to innovate.
- Coca-Cola – “To refresh the world… To inspire moments of optimism and uplift… To create value and make a difference.”
Align Your Brand Promise with Your Brand Experience
You don’t have to encompass every element of your brand experience, just what makes you stand out.