What is a Brand? Part 2 – The Brand Promise

As you learned in Part 1 of the What is a Brand? series, your brand is a promise to consumers. In essence, you’re promising something to consumers when they purchase a product or service with your brand name on it. That promise evokes emotions that can be very powerful, because it’s those emotional connections to your brand that lead to repurchases, word-of-mouth marketing, and brand loyalty.


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What is a brand?

As Monica Skipper, Marketing Manager for FedEx Global Brand Management, explained in a recent post about brand promise and brand essence on the AmEx Open Forum, “Once you know your promise to customers, you need to deliver on that promise. That’s what branding is all about. Every time you keep the promise, you strengthen your brand identity. When you break the promise, you diminish the brand.”

All the money you spend on a great logo, website, ads, brochures, business cards, and so on is useless if consumers don’t believe your brand promise, because if they don’t believe — they won’t buy.

Brands that offer a clear promise, which appeals to consumers, and deliver on that promise through every touch point have a significant advantage over less focused and less trustworthy brands. And that’s the point you need to realize. A brand that doesn’t meet its promises to consumers is typically labeled as undependable and thus, untrustworthy.

The Brand Promise Example 1:

What does the AXE brand promise to consumers? Take a look at the commercial below and check out more AXE commercials on the AXE YouTube channel.

Does the AXE brand deliver on its promise? While it’s unlikely that women actually fall at the feet of a man wearing AXE Body Spray, it can be argued that a man who smells clean and fresh after using AXE Body Spray is infinitely more attractive than a man who smells like he skipped a shower after the gym. AXE has found great success with its target market and has extended the brand across the health and beauty category.

The Brand Promise Example 2:

What does the Red Bull brand promise to consumers? Simple, Red Bull gives you wings. The ad below says so! Well, not literally, but figuratively.

Red Bull Brand Ad

Red Bull gives you energy. It doesn’t matter that the energy provided by Red Bull is unhealthy. The target audience wants the energy promise first and foremost. Red Bull knows its target audience of young people, particularly males in their late teens and twenties. Everything about the brand caters to that target audience — from the brand’s ads to its Facebook page content and everything in between. This is a brand that knows what its target audience wants, makes a focused promise to that audience in order to meet those wants, and delivers on that promise at all times.

Before You Take Flight

Before you can determine what your brand promises to consumers, you need to research your target audience, your competitors, your market, and the environment where you do business. Identify what you do well, what customers want and need, and how you can add value to their lives. Those pieces of information are the foundation of your brand promise definition. In other words, if your brand doesn’t promise something that customers want and can’t already get, it will fail.

Research it first. Define it second. Strategize it third. Implement it fourth. Live it always!

Stay tuned to the AYTM.com blog for more posts in the What Is a Brand? series. Up next: Part 3 – Brand Perceptions. And if you missed Part 1, you can follow the link to learn about the 5 factors that define a brand.


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Image: Red Bull

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.