How to Keep Your Brand Promises Before You Make Them

  •    Anne is a marketing consultant who specializes in content strategy. Before becoming her own boss, she led the marketing team for a Fortune 500 brand.

Successful brands begin with a promise. Consider Geico's "15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on your car insurance." Now that's a promise! A clear, succinct description of what your customers will get by working with or purchasing from you. A brand promise takes your positioning to the next level by explaining the benefits your brand will deliver to customers.

Strong brands don't just make a powerful promise to their customers – they keep it. Doing so fosters positive customer recognition and associations, lends credibility and a competitive edge and ultimately drives sales. But companies need to be careful when associating a promise with their brand.

Making a brand promise that you can't keep will kill your business before it even has a chance to breath properly. Avoid this mistake by ensuring you fully understand what your business does in the marketplace before deciding what brand promise you'll make.

5 Steps to Make a Brand Promise You Can Keep

If you create a brand promise simply because it sounds good and will likely attract customers, your organization may not be aligned to deliver on it. Why? Depending on the promise, it could affect your hiring profiles, employee training, operational processes and more. And if you fall short of your promise, you're not only less likely to get repeat customers, but those customers will probably also tell their friends.

Discover inherent strengths and values your brand already has before molding these into a compelling promise – one you already keep. Follow the steps below to develop a brand promise you're sure to deliver on.

  1. Uncover your current strengths. Ask your current loyal customers – and potential customers – what you're best at and why they choose to buy from or work with you. Use their feedback to discover your business's strongest assets. These should become the focus of your brand promise because they're what your customers have already come to respect and expect.

  2. Identify your differentiators. It's not enough to know your strengths. You must also understand what makes you different from – and hopefully better than – your competitors. So, research your toughest competition to understand their strengths, their weaknesses and how your stack up. Work the areas where you come out on top into your brand promise.

  3. Organize your entire operation to deliver on your promise. Once you've defined your strengths and differentiators and crafted a brand promise around them, underscore how to keep this promise throughout all your operations, especially ones with customer touchpoints. Are you planning to back up your company's can't-be-broken product with a promise to replace it no matter how it broke? Then be sure your customer service department knows you mean it, your inventory manager plans for it, and, most importantly, that your product really is so good you'll hardly ever have to replace it for a customer.

  4. Communicate your brand promise. Every single person in your company must understand what your brand promise means, how it should drive their goals and actions, and what customers will expect from it. Your success in developing loyal customers depends on your staff's ability to keep your promises. Once your employees are effectively trained, begin working your brand promise into all customer-facing messaging.

  5. Continually request customer feedback. Follow up with your customers to ensure they feel you've kept your promise. Put processes in place to easily and regularly collect data on customer sentiment and customer reviews. Make sure your customers know that their satisfaction is important to you by admitting and addressing any hiccups that may occur.

By following those steps, you'll be more likely to craft a brand promise that fully aligns with your company's capabilities and avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes. As Susan Gunelius, a 25-year marketing and branding expert and author of numerous books on branding, marketing and social media, writes of brand promises, “Research it first. Define it second. Strategize it third. Implement it fourth. Live it always!"