According to Wikipedia, the definition of a promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something. As a noun, a promise means a declaration assuring that one will or will not do something. As a verb, it means to commit oneself by a promise to do or give. It can also mean a capacity for good, similar to a value that is to be realized in the near future.

When thinking about promises in the business world, one often thinks of an organization’s brand promise.  Not all organizations have one, but they all should.  According to an article by Workfront called “The 5 Building Blocks of an Effective Brand Promise”, a brand promise is defined as a value or experience a company’s customers can expect to receive every single time they interact with that company. The more consistently a company can deliver on that promise, the stronger the brand’s value will be in the minds of both customers and employees.

When thinking about your own organization, does it offer a brand promise?  Do you believe they deliver upon that brand promise?

The article further states that a strong and effective brand evokes emotion, inspiring people to feel connected to a business.  And a brand promise will help solidify the relationship with customers.  Herein lies the power of promises and the impact it can have on your business if you can keep them.  It goes on to say that a brand is not what you say it is, it’s what people (your customers) think or say it is. And, no amount of advertising, marketing, or public relations can change that.  You need to live it.

The article lists the brand promises of three major organizations and what they want you to think and feel when their brand is mentioned.

  • Nike – The Nike brand promise goes well beyond its famous tagline, “Just do it.” Nike’s brand promise is: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” The asterisk in the brand promise says that if you have a body, you’re an athlete.
  • Starbucks – Starbucks positions itself as a company that brings more to the world than a great cup of coffee. It sees itself as a lifestyle brand and the promise it makes to consumers backs that up: “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.” While the Nike and Starbucks brand promises imply the product they create, Coca-Cola doesn’t mention a product or service at all. It aims for a mindset.

Have you ever felt energized simply by putting on a Nike t-shirt or pair of Nike sneakers?  Have you ever felt ready to be productive after a cup of Starbuck’s coffee or refreshed after drinking a glass of Coke?  These are just some of the thoughts and feelings these organizations want you to retain when you experience their brand.  There is power in this.

The article also offers “Five Building Blocks of an Effective Brand Promise”.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Simple

It should be no longer than a simple sentence or two. A brand promise is not the same thing as a mission statement, which can often get convoluted with rambling sentences.

An effective brand promise combines the catchiness of a tagline and reinforces it with the essence of the company’s mission.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Credible

If the customer experience doesn’t match the brand promise, the value of your brand is weakened. An example of a brand promise not living up to expectations comes from Ford Motor Company.

During the 1980s, Ford’s brand promise was “Quality is Job 1.” However, owners of Ford’s vehicles were not impressed as they routinely spent money on repairs. It got so bad that consumers gave Ford their own version of a brand promise: “Ford—Found on Roadside Broken.”

Today, Ford’s brand promise is “Go Further.”

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Different

If your brand promise sounds similar to other brand promises, especially a competitor’s, how can you distinguish yourself from the pack?

You need to discover what makes your company unique and different from your competitors. This goes beyond the features and benefits of your product and straight to the soul of your company and the heart of your employees.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Memorable

A brand promise should impact every decision your company makes. While a promise may not be as catchy as a tagline or slogan, it must be memorable enough for employees to embrace it and use it during customer interactions.

I’ll give my personal take on the Nike promise: I’m more moved by the asterisk (if you have a body, you’re an athlete) than I am the main promise. It’s a reminder to me that Nike is about the common man rather than the elite athletes who wear the products.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Inspiring

People, in general, will act when they feel an emotional connection to a person, product, or company.

An effective brand promise helps establish that connection by being inspiring. At the same time, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. A brand promise is meant to inspire, but you also want to be realistic. A great example of an inspirational brand promise is Apple’s “Think Different.”

Does your organization’s brand promise meet these five standards? If not, it may be time to revisit.  And, if your organization doesn’t have a brand promise, what exactly is your purpose for being in business in the first place?

The article offers some clear and sound advice regarding the brand.  Your brand must be more than a slogan or a logo.  Your brand promise should be more than a line of copy on a web page. To form a deep attachment between your brand and your customer is to make and keep your brand promise… over, and over, and over again.

If you can do this, your organization should reap the rewards of increased loyalty and profits and feel the power of promises.

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