What Is A Brand Promise

February 7, 2018

 In this four part series, what we examine what are the major players in building brand equity.  Brand Personality, was part one of our series.  Brand Promise is part two.  Let's first identify what is brand promise; like we mentioned earlier a brand is a complex organism. This is part two in a series of articles in which we examine a successful brand’s component parts. Any time you buy a product or a service, you probably have a mental picture of what your purchase will do and how it will improve your business or life. Often, these expectations are based on presumptions, which can lead to real disappointment when you put an unfamiliar product or service into action. Sometimes these expectations are built on the recommendations of others. And sometimes, these expectations are communicated by the brand itself.


Which of the three do you have the most control over?  You guess it, the brand itself. Of these three scenarios, only the last one gives the seller any control over a buyer’s experience. Called the brand promise, it’s one of the most powerful aspects of branding.  What is the Brand Promise?


What is a Brand Promise?

A brand promise is an extension of a company’s positioning. If you think of positioning as the fertile ground that allows a brand to germinate, grow and thrive, the brand promise is a brand’s fruit—it’s the tangible benefit that makes a product or service desirable.

A brand promise can be spelled out to the public, or it can be manifested more subtly in the expression and delivery of the brand experience. A few years ago, FedEx declared that it was the only choice “when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”—an overt promise that still resonates today.  Think of other products or services that you utilize regularly.  Does the brand promise still resonate with you today as it did the very first time?  Chances are if you're still using this product or service it does, and this called brand loyalty. Think of the financial advantage this has with repeat business, and this is what builds brand equity.


A promise, of course, is good only if it’s kept. If a company doesn’t deliver on its promise the vast majority of the time, its reputation—and sales—will likely decline. So why would a business risk everything on a brand promise? After all, wouldn’t it be safer to make no promises at all to clients?


In fact, the opportunity cost of hiding in the shadows is enormous. If a business is confident in its abilities and has developed a compelling and consistent customer experience, it can more easily differentiate itself and assume a market leadership position. Clients will choose these businesses more often because they appear to offer more value.

Brands can be notoriously difficult to control. A brand promise, however, gives a company substantial leverage over the brand experience. It allows a business to set up client expectations and generate excitement.

So tonight, close your eyes and make a promise. Then tomorrow (and ever after) make it come true.


What promise to Make (and Keep)

What Brand Promises are you making to your clients? To motivate clients, a brand promise must achieve the following three goals:

  1. It must convey a compelling benefit

  2. It must be authentic & credible

  3. It must be kept, every time

Promises Kept

A promise can define a company in the marketplace. Below are a few examples of companies that create expectations and consistently deliver on them. Can you think of others?

  • Geico: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.” ...

  • Coors Light: “The World's Most Refreshing Beer” ...

  • Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.” ...

  • BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine” ...

  • Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

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