Even in business settings, customers buy to satisfy an emotional need. Smart marketers identify the emotional needs their target consumer has and then explain how their brand helps the customer fulfill those needs. You want your customer to say, “this individual or company understands me, this is my kind of brand.”
For example, in the early days of computers, for example, IBM ran a campaign that said “You’ll never be fired for buying IBM.” That hit at the emotional fear purchasers had when buying a computer. Computers were new and purchasing managers weren’t sure what they were buying and what they really needed. “What if I buy the wrong one?” IBM helped to allay their fears. They sold a lot of computers, too.
Since your brand’s success relies on addressing the right customer or consumer needs, your promise is a statement about the value you provide to the people who interact with you. People who deliver on their brand promises create real value. But how do people create brand promises in the first place?
Creating Your Brand Promise
Creating your personal brand promise requires asking and answering a series of knotty questions about what your work is about at the deepest level, and what your values are. Assuming you’re working through this branding project in sequential order, you’ve already addressed the questions about values. In addition to this issue, there are a few more big-picture issues to tackle including:
- What benefits do your customers derive from their relationships with you?
- How are you similar to and how are you different from your competition?
- What are your personal values and beliefs related to the work you do?
As you dig into these three issues, you are uncovering your personal brand promise.
The brand promise should never be a description of the products or services the company offers. The NFL’s brand promise to “be the premier sports and entertainment brand that brings people together, connecting them socially and emotionally like no other” doesn’t say a thing about American football. Rather, a brand promise describes how people should feel when they interact with the brand, how the company provides its products/services, and what sort of character the company has. Another thing to notice about the NFL example is that it’s a short phrase, not a paragraph, and it’s relevant to all aspects of the organization. The NFL’s promise encompasses the teams and the games, yes, and it also accounts for licensed apparel among other things. A brand promise covers a lot of ground in a short space—one of the reasons developing it is so difficult.
It’s also important to realize that a brand cannot – should not – represent all things to all people. There will be some people who are naturally attracted to the brand and others that are not. That’s actually partly the point. You are developing a brand to attract a type of customer and this means that you are going to not attract others. A second point to note is that a brand promise can be either explicitly stated or it can be implied by the creative use of colors, images, tone of your copy language etc. Authenticity and consistency are also vital in building your brand promise. We know what to expect from McDonald’s, Starbucks and other great retail brands precisely because the experience is uniform from location to location and consistent.
3 Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Promise
What promises are you making to your customers? To motivate customers, a brand promise must achieve the following three goals:
- It must convey a compelling benefit
- It must be authentic & credible
- The promise must be kept, every time
Thumbs Up Examples
A promise can define a company in the marketplace. Below are a few examples of companies that create expectations and consistently deliver on them. Can you think of others?
- FedEx - Your package will get there overnight. Guaranteed.
- Apple - You can own the coolest, easiest-to-use cutting-edge computers and electronics.
- McKinsey & Company - You can hire the best minds in management consulting.
- The Nature Conservancy - Empowering you to save the wilderness.
Here’s a few more, along with some thoughts about each one.
Geico – “15 Minutes Or Less Can Save You 15% Or More On Car Insurance”
This one from Geico has become somewhat famous. Partly because of the huge investment Geico made behind the campaign. But also because the promise is so specific in its offer. In 15 minutes (easy, convenient) I can save 15% (worthy number). Why wouldn’t someone investigate this one?
Google Chrome – “The Web Is What You Make Of It”
It’s hard to argue with anything from Google, Apple or any other behemoth of innovation. They are delivering tools and services in the simplest form. What I like about this is the spirit of innovation and self-discovery it suggests. It is entrepreneurial in nature and sounds like something we all can do if we have the passion.
Civic – “To Each Their Own”
I like this one from Civic because it supports the unique aspects of their product line. If you go to the Civic site, you are supported with: “We’re all different. That’s why there are five different Civics”. This message is fun, inclusive and has a creative dual meaning. The Civic family has a car for everyone. Or so it seems.