The What, Why, and How of a Brand Promise

If you’ve been following our branding blog posts, you’ve likely come to realize the concept of brand is far more than a logo and a tagline. Your branding is comprised of a multitude of elements from your name to the way you answer customer calls. With all these different components to consider, it can be tempting to skip the small stuff and jump into the more glamorous externally facing elements of your brand. But, wise branding experts know that without all the foundational pieces of a branding strategy in place, these external elements can fall flat and feel hollow.

One such small but mighty element that should never be passed over on your way to painting the big external picture of your brand is your brand promise (not to be confused with your brand purpose).

What is a Brand Promise?

A brand promise is a short, inspiring statement used to capture the essence of a brand and articulate the way an organization holds itself accountable to customers and to each other.

It goes beyond your tagline to define the purpose of your entire business, defining not your product or service but the experience you strive to create and the value you bring to your industry, community, and the world.  

Let’s take a look at some powerful brand promise examples to give you a sense of how this element comes to life:

Nike:

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete.”

Starbucks:

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

Coca-Cola:

“To refresh the world… To inspire moments of optimism and uplift… To create value and make a difference.”

H&M:

“More fashion choices that are good for people, the planet, and your wallet.”

You can see that while the brand promise alludes to the product or service behind the business, it goes deeper to make a statement about what happens as a result of their work.

Business leaders and marketing professionals — Take a deep dive into modern branding philosophy and best practices in our definitive guide.

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What’s the Purpose of Your Brand Promise?

When you consider the role your customers actually play in defining your brand, the brand promise becomes even more crucial.

“A brand does not exist within a company or organization. A brand exists in the minds of your customers.”

Lucidpress

Brand isn’t what you say you are. It’s what your audiences believe you are. A brand promise serves as a guidepost for your organization. An internal tool to ensure your brand experience is delivered consistently across all your customer touchpoints, solidifying the perception of your brand in the minds and hearts of your external audience.

How is a Brand Promise Developed?

Your brand promise should be developed as part of a larger brand strategy process that factors in your audiences, marketplace position, and your organizational goals. It starts with internal and external research that will guide the creation of your brand promise to ensure it not only resonates with your audience but that it will do so in a way that authentically represents who you are at your core.

Once you have the context of your brand research, your brand promise is developed as part of the brand platform. The entire purpose of which is to establish a foundation for your brand in an effort to clarify who you are and what you stand for. It should reflect other elements of the platform, including your tagline, brand values, and mission in a succinct, meaningful way.

What Makes a Brand Promise Meaningful?

Careful consideration of your research and the whole of your brand platform can help ensure your brand promise is meaningful to both those who have to uphold it and those who experience it. There are also a few key characteristics all powerful brand promises share.

Simplicity

Stick with one or two sentences max. Everyone within your organization needs to be able to understand and uphold your brand promise. As such, it should be simple, plainspoken, and easy for everyone to understand.

Authenticity

Part of why it’s so important to use both internal and external research to inform your brand promise is that it’s the only way to ensure the promise authentically represents who you are and how you operate, as well as the way others see you. If your customers’ experiences with your brand don’t align with the promise you make, your entire brand will be undermined.

Distinction

As with all things brand, your brand promise is an opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competitors. It should reflect the unique value only your company can bring to the marketplace. Remember, this is not just what makes your product or service different, but the larger difference you bring to your customers’ lives.

Inspiration

With so much of brand residing in the hearts and minds of your audiences, your brand promise should connect with the emotional side of your internal and external audiences. It inspires your employees to deliver the value you promise to your customers, which, in turn, inspires your customers to remain loyal to your brand.

Attainability

Your brand promise should not only inspire your employees to deliver, but it should be attainable. Overpromising an impossible outcome or experience will set them up for failure, causing burn-out among employees and frustration among customers. An attainable brand promise will have the opposite effect, gaining more and more momentum as you continue to deliver.

All of this to say, establishing a powerful brand promise is no easy task. But it is an essential one. It becomes the rallying point for your entire organization and the catalyst for your audience’s experience with your brand. The good news is with the right approach, you can ensure your brand promise is one you can keep and use to organically grow your business.