How to create a brand promise

Posted on: June 12th, 2018

Ingredients to create a brand promise

We all make promises in life. Those of us that keep our promises earn the respect of those around us and gain a reputation for being reliable. However, there are those (and we all know them) who make promises and continuously break them. They are unreliable and we can’t trust them to do what they say.

Similar to life, brands around the world make promises. Some keep them and some don’t. It goes without saying that we know which one builds a better brand reputation. So it is important to understand what a brand promise is and why it is so vital for your brand strategy.

In a nutshell your brand promise is your commitment to your customers, suppliers, team and yourself. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, it just needs to be something that you can consistently deliver on. Your brand promise will keep you and your team on track, it will provide purpose to your brand and it helps connects you to your customers. Set correctly, your brand promise can be a powerful tool for your business which sets you apart from your competitors.

6 ingredients to create a brand promise

1. Purpose

If a brand wants to authentically connect with it’s customers, it needs to have a purpose that determines why you get up and do what you do, day in and day out. Understanding what the intent of the brand is and what is in it for the client, staff and stakeholders has far more meaning than simply to make money.

Nike's brand promise to it's customer

A fantastic example of this is Nike. We all know the famous tag line ‘Just do it’ but are you aware of what their promise is? It’s pretty cool and it links directly with their tagline. “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” In their promise Nike refers to an ‘athlete’ as any one who has a body. So their aim is literally to inspire everybody!

2. Focus

When creating a brand promise it’s tempting to try and be all things to all people, but that’s the easiest way to become ‘that’ brand that lets it’s customers down. A far more effective promise is to create one that has meaning to your clients and one that you can keep.

3. Make it relevant

Making sure that your brand promise is relevant both to your clients and your team is critical for connection. In my design studio we promise to create designs our customers can be proud of. We do this by focusing on our clients brand personality and making sure that we only produce designs that we ourselves would be proud to put in our portfolio.

4. Unique selling point

When creating your brand promise you should always keep in mind what makes your business special. It always goes back to ‘how’ you do things, and not ‘what’ you do. If you are focusing on ‘what’ you need to shift your thinking as everyone in your industry does what you do – however, they don’t do it how you do it – that part makes you unique. If you are able to start with your USP you’ll be able to create an effective brand promise that connects your brand   with your customers and staff.

5. Gut instinct

Now the truth is that none of my clients actually know what our brand promise is. In fact, you probably didn’t know what Nike’s brand promise was before I mentioned it earlier, or that of your favourite brand. We aren’t aware of the actual wording of a brand promise but somehow as consumers we know when this promise has not been met.

Volkswagen failed to deliver their brand promise of a diesel vehicle that was environmentally friendly and performance driven

Take Volkswagen for example. Their name literally means ‘The Peoples Car’. They used to be one of the vehicle industries most trusted brands, until… in 2015 the Volkswagen Diesel Scandal erupted. It was released that 11 million diesel vehicles world wide were equipped with software to cheat the EPA. This meant that the eco friendly, performance driven vehicle was a lie! Volkswagen enthusiasts around the world were disappointed and some totally put off by this brazen lack of ethics and complete disregard to keep their promise. Many of them following their gut instinct not to trust the VW brand anymore and move to a more trustworthy brand.

6. Formula

There have been a number of formulas created to help businesses come up with the perfect brand promise. I personally don’t believe that a formula creates an authentic promise. I believe that it should come naturally and be generated with true intent. If however you are wanting a little help in this area, this is one of the better formulas that I have come across.

We promise to [how] + target [who] + outcome [what] = Brand Promise or even more simply put, what you do for whom.

This might sound simple, but it’s harder to do than you may think. And just like your brand is far more than a logo, your brand promise is more than a line of copy. To create a brand promise that has meaning and purpose for all involved requires you to actively put this in play and keep it front of mind in everything that you do. After all, if you brake your promise, be warned that this could have devastating effects for your brand.

If you need help creating a brand promise that aligns with your brand personality, brand positioning and brand strategy feel free to give us a call on 1300 722 896 or flick us an email.

Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker
Creator of Brand Magic Masterclass

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