All brands are promises. A successful brand is one that delivers on that promise consistently. Like pinky swears made to friends, a brand promise begins with a simple verbal pledge – but the real value lies in the unspoken commitment to those words for days, months and years to come.
Breaking a promise can damage a brand’s reputation and sales, but mincing your words or playing it safe is an even riskier business. Customers support brands that are confident in their commitments and follow-through on them every step of the way.
A brand promise should always be simple, straightforward and authentic. To stand out from the crowd, however, a brand promise must also be bold, inspiring, and infused into the core of your brand experience.
Here are 5 elements of brand promises that resonate and deliver:
Keep it Simple and Straightforward
Brides and grooms may exchange poetic vows on the altar, but your customer is often still deciding how they feel about you when they read your brand promise. A brand promise is a first date, a daily reminder, and a lifelong commitment – all at the same time. As a result, it should be simple, straightforward, credible, and consistent. Less is more.
While there is no exact formula, your brand promise should clearly outline the value your company offers and what makes you stand apart from the rest. Go beyond listing your products or services and illustrate the value you will add to your customer's life. Value can mean different things to different brands. Disney promises to create happiness through magical experiences, while Geico promises that you can save 15% or more on your car insurance in 15 minutes or less. These promises have more in common than you think: they are simple, straightforward, and written in an actionable language. Neither promise mentions car insurance, movies or amusement parks, focusing instead on values such as happiness or ease.
Strike a Chord
To create a brand promise that resonates with your audience, you must understand their wants and needs. Companies often focus on external problems, marketing their products and services to physical, visible needs. But customers are looking for solutions to internal, emotional problems. Strike a chord in people’s hearts and minds through a brand promise that digs deeper.
Tesla’s brand promise is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” They know that a customer considering a Tesla product needs a car to drive, but also desires to be part of emerging technology trends and to make a positive impact on the environment through their purchase. A strong brand promise speaks directly to this spectrum of internal and external desires.
Stand For Something More.
In a purpose-driven world, customers want brands to stand for something bigger than their products or services. The key to infusing your brand promise with purpose, without losing authenticity, is to understand what your customers care about, what your company cares about, and where you can work together to make a difference.
Starbucks promises “to inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” This brand promise opens up endless opportunities to bring value to their community through purpose-driven programs, community engagement, and inspiring campaigns, but it is not randomly constructed. The promise is founded on the understanding that coffee shops function as community centers of connection, inspiration, and collaboration. Starbucks promises to deliver more than just a good cup of coffee. They go further, committing to leveraging their retail spaces for a greater purpose and raising their communities up.
Outline a Plan of Action
A clear, concise, compelling statement is just the beginning. Consistent messaging reinforces your brand promise, building credibility and trust. A great way to do this is to outline a plan of action for your customers. A plan can be an explicit breakdown of your brand promise or a list of values that you agree to always deliver on.
Casper built a loyal community by explicitly outlining the steps they take to make sure that everyone gets the best sleep possible. Their website homepage dives into the details of their 100-day mattress trial, free shipping and returns, and their 10-year warranty.
Less explicitly but equally effective, Whole Foods incorporates a list of their values into their marketing and advertising - from social media campaigns to wall murals in stores. They tell stories around natural and organic foods, local farmers, and environmental responsibility, outlining the ways the company works to deliver on their simple brand promise of "quality."
Deliver, Deliver, Deliver
The final step in creating a powerful brand promise is one that never ends: deliver on that promise day after day. By infusing your brand promise into every step of your brand experience, you not only build credibility and trust, but you set your brand up for future growth.
Your brand promise is evergreen. It should not change with each season's campaigns and messaging, rather it should anchor your brand and provide an enduring standard. By following these steps to create a compelling brand promise, you future-proof your brand and welcome in flexibility to build upon that promise.