Brand Promise - How to Make It and Keep It

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Posted Sep 02, 2011
Susan Gunelius

I’m often asked what a brand is. It’s a common question that even seasoned marketers and business people don’t fully understand. That’s because a brand isn’t the logo, tagline, and other tangible items that represent it. A brand is a promise. At its core, your brand promise should define your entire business and should touch every aspect of your company.

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The Brand Promise

Every brand promises something to consumers. Think of your favorite brand. What does it promise to you?

The best brands deliver on that brand promise in every customer interaction. The brand promise is so solid that consumers develop expectations for the brand. They trust that the brand will deliver on those expectations and its promise in every interaction.

Breaking the Brand Promise

When the brand fails to keep the brand promise, consumers become confused and dissatisfied. It’s a normal human reaction.

When your expectations aren’t met you don’t understand why and you’re not happy about it. It’s very likely that you’ll look for a replacement brand that does meet your expectations and keeps its promise in every interaction. After all, why pay for something with your hard-earned money if it’s not going to deliver on its promise and meet your expectations for it?

Keeping the Brand Promise

Brands that consistently keep their promise in every aspect of their business -- from their advertising to their employee relations and everything in between -- can be very powerful.

When consumers trust that a brand will meet their expectations, not only are they more likely to become repeat purchasers, but they’re also more likely to talk about the brand. They become brand loyalists and vocal brand advocates that provide the brand with a form of word-of-mouth marketing that money can’t buy, particularly as that brand buzz travels across the social web via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. In other words, keeping your brand promise leads to brand loyalty, repeat purchases from your brand loyalists, increased brand awareness among a wider audience, and new customers.

Brand Promises that Work (and Don’t Work)

Brand promise failure happens all the time. Recently, Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp. brand have been under scrutiny for failing to keep their brand promise (and breaking the law).On the flip side, many businesses are very good at understanding how important it is to always keep their brand promises. For example, Hyundai promises affordability while Cadillac promises luxury. If Cadillac launched a $15,000 car, it would go against the Cadillac brand promise and consumers would not be happy about it. A similar scenario happened to Mercedes a few years ago when a low-end (cheap) Mercedes hit the market and Mercedes brand loyalists were not pleased.

Tangible Symbols Can Communicate the Brand Promise

As your brand grows through your consistent communications and actions that continually deliver on your brand promise, the tangible elements that represent your brand can directly communicate your brand promise. They’ll evoke feelings in consumers that further deepen brand trust and loyalty.

What do you think of when you see the blue box pictured to the right? The Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue packaging carries a great deal of weight in terms of communicating the Tiffany’s brand promise because the brand was consistently built over time by delivering on that brand promise again and again. Today, consumers need to see nothing more than that blue packaging to instantly know what’s inside is high quality, fine jewelry from a brand that offers the best.

Brand Promise Audit

Consumers and the market are constantly evolving. Your brand and your brand promise need to evolve with them. Branding Strategy Insider offers a great brand audit checklist that can help you continually monitor your brand’s health. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your brand’s promise today will be the right brand promise for your business and your consumers forever. Instead, listen to consumers, research the marketplace, pay attention to trends, and make sure your brand promise is always on target.

Stay tuned for my next post which will discuss using market research to ensure your brand promise is always defined in the best way possible to help you reach your business goals.
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