How to Create your Brand Promise

How to Create your Brand Promise

Your Strategic Position is a statement of who you are. Your Brand Promise should tell your customer what they can expect to receive from your brand. Your Brand Promise is the blunt, overt, compelling offer you’re going to put in front of your Target Market Customers. Your Brand Promise is going to be derived from, and supported by, your three Key Benefits.

When I think of a Brand Promise, I think of a fly fisherman casting the fly out, trying to get the fish to take the bait. That is what a Brand Promise is. It captures the attention of your target market customers and makes them take action. Here are some standards for your Brand Promise:

You’ve identified three Key Benefits and a host of other benefits, but your Brand Promise should ideally concentrate on only one benefit – two at most. The success of your Brand Promise starts to drop dramatically if you use more than two benefits as bait.

Your Brand Promise should be blunt and overt.

This is not a time for cuteness or what some business people think is humor or creativity. You’re much more likely to be successful if you state your promise bluntly and clearly.

1‑800‑GOT‑JUNK? does a great job: “Remove your junk without lifting a finger.” They even managed to combine a functional benefit (“remove your junk”) and an economic benefit (“without lifting a finger”) into their promise.

You will not attract people who read your promise, understand it, and decide it’s not for them. That’s OK. What’s not OK is if a target market prospect doesn’t understand the promise you are making and walks on by, not realizing that you have the perfect solution for them.

Write your Brand Promise in simple language – a twelve-year-old should be able to read and understand it. To get an idea of what that is, check out the late-night TV infomercials for examples of companies that have tested extensively and figured out precisely how to clearly state a Brand Promise in order to get people to pick up the phone and buy.

Remember this quote that’s attributed to Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Now, let’s get to work on your brand promise. Think about the three Key Benefits that you’ve identified. What promise or promises could you make to your target market customer?

What promises can you make that won’t change, even if your product or service or company changes slightly over time? Look at the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? promise. That promise was good when the company was a small firm in Vancouver, BC. It’s good if the service area is all of North America. It’s still a good promise even if the company expands the definition of “junk.”

Give your Brand Promise some thought. Discuss it with your team. Once you’ve agreed on a Brand Promise, ask the following questions to test it:

  • Is your promise bluntly obvious to your ideal target customer?
  • Is your promise something that’s hard for the competition to copy operationally?

Work on your promise until you have a short, sweet, clear, blunt statement of your Brand Promise. Your Brand Promise should stretch your company. Your company must be structured and optimized to deliver on the promise you make – thus making it something that’s hard or impossible for the competition to copy easily. Your promise should be specific, but not too restricting – so that it can grow with you, even if your product or service evolves over time.

Got it? You’re not quite done yet.

Why should anyone believe you? This is a skeptical world. Consumers are bombarded by thousands of advertising messages every day, and every one of them includes a promise of some kind. Why should customers believe your Strategic Positioning and Brand Promise?

That’s the challenge for every company today. You have to give them reasons to believe.

That begins with telling the truth. No B.S. Tell the truth about your product and what you can do for your customer. If you do tell the truth, you can use several proven methods to provide reasons for people to believe your Strategic Positioning and Brand Promise.

Use demonstrations, so people can see your product in action. Demonstrations are a staple of the infomercial; in fact, they’re one of the biggest reasons why infomercials are so successful. 

Demonstrations are even more effective if you involve people in providing their own proof. Free trials and test drives are excellent examples of demonstrations that involve customers.

If you have data available, use statistics, surveys, and studies to support your promise. Even your own in-house data can work here. How many customers have you served in the last year? The last ten years?

If your customers tell you that you do a great job, get their permission and share their testimonials. Marketing expert Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion calls testimonials a form of “social proof.” Other forms of social proof are case studies and stories of how other people, like your ideal target customer, have used your product or service successfully.

Expert proof is another way to support your Strategic Position and Brand Promise. Obviously, a statement from an expert authority qualifies as expert proof. But so do top ratings from magazines like Consumer Reports or rating firms like J. D. Power and Associates, and seals of approval from organizations like Underwriters Laboratories.

Ask yourself this question: “Is there some way we can remove their fear of making a purchase decision?” A guarantee can be a powerful way to do this, and the more dramatic it is and the easier it is for the customer, the more powerful it becomes. Remember that the essence of a guarantee is risk reversal, a message from you to a customer that you’re so sure they will get dramatic and meaningful benefits that you will bear the risk.

Before the 2008 recession, Hyundai was seen as a “cheap brand.” It was perceived by its competitors as being one of those “inferior products” I wrote about earlier in the section on New Entrants and the “Innovator’s Dilemma“.

In 2009, at the height of people’s fears about the impact of the economic recession, this Korean automaker – not historically known for its fearless marketing – paid for a Super Bowl TV commercial that offered the following risk reversal:

“Finance or lease any new Hyundai, and if you lose your income in the next year, you can return it with no impact on your credit.”

While the car industry suffered a 22 percent drop in sales that year, Hyundai grew its sales 27 percent and increased its market share to become a major mainstream player. Advertising Age named it “Marketer of the Year” in 2009. The image of the brand became greatly elevated, to where it is now seen as the equal of the more established brands.

Take a look at the possibilities above and make a list of all the ways you can provide your ideal target market customers with reasons to believe your marketing claims.

Now here’s a challenge for you: Can you devise a way to measure how well you deliver on your Brand Promise? It’s a special type of Metric or KPI, your Kept Promise Indicator.

Develop a way to measure it quickly and simply. If appropriate, tie it to compensation.

Remember, the decisions you make in these marketing chapters are raw concepts that can then be used to brief a branding or design team where necessary. How your marketing strategy is actually executed textually, verbally, visually, and experientially in the marketplace is derived from these key decisions….”

Excerpted from the book: Business Execution for RESULTS, by Stephen Lynch


Until next time…