Branding For Dummies
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Your brand promise is the pledge upon which you build and stake your reputation. It’s what those who come into contact with you or your business can count on you to consistently deliver. It’s the expectation that you live up to every time people experience your brand, whether online or in person, or through advertising, promotions, buying experiences, service encounters, or any other form of contact.

Your promise is the essence of your brand. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that your logo is the sum total of your brand identity. When people think of your brand, they may visualize your logo, but your promise is what motivates them in your direction.

When Nordstrom posts that it’s “committed to providing our customers with the best possible service — and to improving it every day,” it’s making a promise. Geico’s “15 minutes or less can save you 15 percent” is a promise. Zappo’s “The best customer service possible” is a promise.

Each one puts a company’s reputation on the line by pledging to live up to high expectations, or else. The promise becomes an internal rallying call for excellence and a magnet for new business.

If you’re not sure of your brand promise, consider these questions:

  • Why do customers choose your business? What do they seek from you that they can’t get elsewhere?

  • What attributes do customers count on that they would find the hardest to replace if your business weren’t available to them?

Answer these questions on your own, ask managers and others in your business to answer them, and then go to a few key customers and ask for their input. Explain what you’re up to. Tell them that, as part of your branding strategy, you’re clarifying the way your business promise is interpreted in the market, and you’d appreciate their responses to the preceding questions.

When you’re done with your analysis, take these steps:

  1. List all the reasons customers choose your business and the attributes they count on only your company to deliver.

  2. Circle all the attributes you’re confident that you can deliver consistently and upon which you’re willing to stake your reputation.

  3. Put a check mark next to those attributes that are compelling to customers and to your internal team — the ones you can proudly rally around.

  4. Take the checked items and make a short list of business attributes that are most assured, most compelling, most believable, and most consistent with the character of your company.

Your final list of attributes provides the basis upon which to build your business promise. Following are a few more examples of brand promises to get you started:

  • Samsung: Taking the world in imaginative new directions.

  • BMW: Genuine driving pleasure.

  • Walmart: Saving people money so they can live better.

  • Disney: Only Disney can deliver a fantasy experience for families to share.

You can see from the examples, brand promises often boil down into mottos or declarative statements around which businesses coalesce. They start, however, with internal commitments. Use the following template to write the commitment you’ll incorporate into your promise and branding strategy.

[Name of your business, product, or service] is the [your distinction and the generic term for your type of offering] to provide [your unique features or benefits] to [your customer profile] who choose our offering in order to feel [your customers’ emotional outcome].

We consistently deliver the unique attributes and benefits our customers count on, and we promise our customers [the promise customers can absolutely count on from your company].

Broken promises break brands. As you put your promise into words, make sure it’s one you can deliver upon consistently. Staying true to your word and upholding your promise is essential to building brand trust and loyalty.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Bill Chiaravalle served as Creative Director with world-renowned brand strategy and design firm Landor Associates before founding Brand Navigation, which has been honored with numerous branding, design, and industry awards. Barbara Findlay Schenck is a nationally recognized marketing specialist and the author of several books, including Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies.

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