Your brand promise sets the bar for every interaction with your stakeholders. It is the mark against which we measure every tactic and touchpoint. It is our single, greatest brand building tool.
- Make a clear, emotional promise
- Deliver on this promise – every time, everywhere
- Build a culture that supports and delivers on this promise
Some people don’t like the term “promise” because it sounds so encompassing and immovable. And yet the very reason they shy away from this term is why we use it. No one wants to break a promise. And an organization that shies away from making a clear, emotional promise almost always suffers from negative brand associations.
Brand building is challenging. We don’t control what our customers and prospects think or feel and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone 100% of the time. We can only strive to create experiences that exceed their expectations. And by doing so, we create powerful and positive emotions about our organization.
It is quite possible to create a culture that strives to meet or exceed our audience’s expectations. It is this very striving for excellence that defines the best brands. Our brand promise becomes the line in the sand that we can hold every part of our organizations accountable against.
Our promise can be about speed and quality of service. It can be about a caring and considerate approach to our customers. It can be about always standing behind our offering, products, service or mission. It has to be something that matters to our constituents and it has to be an emotional promise. It's not about making a great computer; it's about promising something emotional and aspirational – a lifestyle, surpassing limitations, and changing the world.
Almost every organization on the planet has some policy, process or program in place to improve service. And yet, very few organizations are actively building brands that connect and resonate with their audience. They are treating service as if it only matters to the front line and call centre staff. If we silo our promise, it will show. We are quick to spot platitudes and marketing talk designed to make us feel like someone cares, but really they just want our dollars.
An interesting shorthand for how well our organization is meeting expectations is trust. Think about the people in your life who you trust and don’t trust. Odds are that the people you trust are people that consistently do what they say. In other words, they act in a way that is fair and meets your expectations. If someone in your organizations tells me that they will get back to me by end of day tomorrow, do they? If I call in, do I feel like my concerns matter? When I send a cheque, do I feel like my contribution matters? What if I attempt to communicate with your organization via social media?
I like to go to lunch with 5 key stakeholders and ask them how trustworthy my organization is, in their eyes. Would they let my organization watch their car for a day? They might laugh, but I press on. Would they give my organization (not me) their car keys for an afternoon? What about their money? Their pet cat?
Our brand is built by continuously meeting the expectations of our stakeholders. And not just where it matters to our bottom line. We have to prove to our constituents that we value them over just their wallets.
This is why our brand promise is so critical. We can’t meet expectations we haven’t set or defined. We certainly can’t operationalize to deliver on something we haven’t defined. And finally, we can’t manage client expectations if we aren’t clear on what we are capable or willing to promise them.
Our Brand promise becomes the mark by which we measure everything we do and how we build a powerful brand that can help us to change the world and connect emotionally to our constituents.