What is a brand? It’s more than a mark, a logo, icon, or business name in a unique font. As impressive as that logo may look, it isn’t the “brand” in the true sense—and it certainly isn’t what makes the brand valuable. Rather, a business’s brand is its promise to its all those who interact with it. Successful brands deliver on their promises. And it’s by delivering on their brand promises that companies create brand value.
A brand promise isn’t a description of what the business does in a literal sense. It’s a description of the business’s character. To some extent it’s how the business does what it does. Also, it’s the feeling the business conveys to its stakeholders.
Strongly branded businesses craft their brand promises from their key ‘brand attributes, their core values and beliefs. For example, Coca Cola’s brand promise & attributes can be drilled down to “simple pleasures, optimism, happiness, human connections/bringing people together”
Brand Promises as Business Decision Makers
Businesses with strong brands take their brand promises seriously, using them as a framework for all their decision making.
Coca-Cola has become one of the strongest brands in the world through making strategic business decisions based on its brand promise, from what products it offers to how it offers them. For most of us, it’s easiest to see Coca-Cola living its promise through the ads it chooses to air: who can forget people from all over the globe coming together to “teach the world to sing”?
Delivering on brand promises can mean making challenging decisions. Something might look great on paper, but if it doesn’t inherently reflect the brands promise, brands with faith in their promise will drop the idea, as painful as it may be in the short term. Businesses that have built significant value know what the company is, but also equally importantly know what it is NOT. Knowing this allows for greater accuracy in focus and targeting, Because staying on promise will, in the long term, increase the strength and value of the brand.
Making the Brand Promise?
Any business needs to consider the following 3 questions when developing their brand promise:
The Company’s Value Proposition
For established businesses, brand promises can mine their history and reputation, whilst new businesses should consider what they’d like the history and reputation of the company to be. And it’s important to avoid just describing what the business does! The focus should be on the benefits provided by the business, ideally from the viewpoint of customers and all other stakeholders.
Points of Parity and Differentiation
This is often the simplest question to answer – Compared to similar businesses or competitors, how is the business different? What feel or character does the business offer when compared to the competition? Even if there is no obvious competition it’s important to consider anything out there that provides an option that could be chosen instead
A company’s brand attributes are the values and beliefs that their brands represent. Brand attributes describe how the brand delivers on its promise. Just as with the brand promise, the brand attributes and values do not describe a business’s actual products or services – with Coca-Cola, its brand values say nothing about the quality or taste of their products
The questions involved in developing a brand promise look easier on paper than answering them ever turns out to be in practice. Brand promise development is hard work that generally takes multiple brainstorming sessions, the gathering and analysis of carefully extracted insights through well planned (and well executed) market research and extensive investigation into the true nature of the business.
Yes, it’s a daunting task but in the end businesses that have clearly defined brand promises, values and attributes have strong frameworks for decision making, and using these frameworks helps develop their brand’s strength – and financial worth.