When most people think of a brand, they invariably remember the logo, icon, a slogan or even a jingle. But at the most basic level, a brand is a promise. It is much more than your company logo design, your corporate colors or any other brand assets. The promise you make to your target audience and the world at large is what makes or breaks your brand.
It makes it when you have a strong promise on which you deliver on all fronts and it breaks it when you fail to keep your promise.
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Branding and positioning experts like Jack Trout and Al and Laura Ries emphasize that your brand should stand for one thing in the customer’s mind. Strong brands have captured that certain mindshare in the market. You must identify the mindshare you’d like to own by going through a Competitive Positioning strategy exercise.
Here are some examples (from the United States):
Low fare airline
Brand That Owns It
Don’t be intimidated by the size of these companies. Google was able to capture this mindshare in less than a decade with little to no advertising. While few companies will ever be as successful as Google, their biggest product, their company mission and the mindshare they own are all aligned. And therein lies the secret.
So what about your promise?
What does your brand stand for? What promise(s) do you make to your target audience?
The first think to note is that a brand promise is not simply a description of what the company does or offers to its customers. It is what it promises them beyond the service or product on offer. It is the promise of how it will deliver value to the market place.
You can tweak your brand promise to continually improve it, but the important part now is to understand and embrace the concept.
The strongest brand promises convey value to their target market or buyer personas. Think of your promise as your core selling philosophy — the shortest and simplest way to convey your value to the market. It takes years or even decades of delivering your brand promise to the market consistently to achieve a singular word mindshare of the market, and most companies will never achieve it.
But striving for it is far better than having no plan at all, so brainstorm, decide and refine. Consider your brand architecture:
- What is your value proposition?
- What are your strongest emotional benefits you deliver, or your brand pillars?
- What your brand means?
- What are your market segments’ greatest pains?
- What are your brand’s human personality traits
How do you create a brand promise?
As you’re thinking about your brand promise, keep in mind that owning a single word in the customer’s mind is extremely difficult, and often requires companies to use longer promises over time to own the single word. Do not think of it from a marketing perspective but from mission and vision perspective.
Start off with believing that this brand promise is something that you will keep internal to your company and is not meant to be plastered all over your website or other touch points. Think of it as an internal promise that only the stake holders and employees are privy to. This will ensure that your brand promise can remain true and not just be another crutch to prop up your marketing!
Consider these famous brand and their brand promises:
Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
Virgin: “To be genuine, fun, contemporary, and different in everything we do at a reasonable price.”
Neither Coca-Cola nor Virgin talk about their products or services. You will see this with any major brand out there. Instead they make promises to their customers about the experience they will deliver.
So this New Year, make a conscious effort to lift yourself above the fluff of traditional marketing you have been doing and start thinking aspiration-ally. Create a brand promise and deliver it consistently for success.