The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Brand Promise
Brands make promises and then they must keep those promises. Making the promise is easy. Keeping it is the hard part. One can make a promise with words. But it can only be kept through actions. Consider BP repositioning itself as an environmentally friendly brand with the “Beyond Petroleum” slogan and the bright yellow and green sunburst icon. BP supported this with a $200 million public relations advertising campaign designed by Ogilvy & Mather. It worked well until the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Then other actions came to light, like the environmentally controversial oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.
A brand’s marketing department, often assisted by marketing agencies, can help a brand craft its promise, but who is going to make sure the promise is believable and sustainable with real proof points? Who is going to make sure that the organization can authentically deliver against the promise?
This is why the brand’s promise must be crafted at the most senior level of its organization. Delivering on the promise requires alignment with the organization’s mission, vision and business plans. It will affect the allocation of resources including capital expenditures. To deliver on the “Beyond Petroleum” promise, BP needed to invest significantly in alternative energy sources including R&D spending in that area and it needed to implement tighter environmental standards and controls not only for its own operations but also for all of its sub-contractors. These are not marketing manager decisions. These are CEO decisions.
When we conduct brand positioning workshops for organization brands, we include the organization’s CEO (or equivalent) and his or her staff, including his or her CMO. Why, because this is a strategic exercise that will require total organizational alignment and support. A marketing manager cannot guarantee this. And an external marketing agency certainly cannot guarantee this.
Remember, the most important part of a brand’s promise is not the making of the promise, but rather the keeping of the promise. Make sure your brand is able to do that.
Sponsored by: The Brand Positioning Workshop
Join us at The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley May 16-17, 2013 in San Diego, California
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 100 participants
As in the marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
I absolutely love these fast food images from a blog called Alphaila. (There are more if you have the time to visit.) They are perfect for illustrating the false promises brands can make to their audience/customers. Now I am not picking on these fast food brands, I want to know how anyone continues to believe they will receive the product as promised, when the reality is so starkly different. Especially when people are in the store consuming the sorry reality right in front of a large poster beautifully illustrating the fantasy. Don’t these fast food companies realize that what they promise is a big fat lie?
Promises matter to people. If you don’t deliver what you promise to people, in time, you won’t matter to them. This is true in every product category. This is true in all walks of life. More importantly, in our social media crazed world, vetting out broken promises made to consumers has instant ramifications to the credibility and trajectory of your brand’s perceived value.
Advertising images make implicit promises. When the product doesn’t match up to the advertised promise, isn’t that like cheating, or on some level, stealing from people’s hopes? Perhaps most advertising (in any form) is useless crap. Maybe brands can get away with this sort of thing because nobody is really paying attention anyway. But it’s worth thinking about… sh*t or shinola.
Like these brutally honest images, ask yourself if there is some part of your marketing and visual messaging that over-promises and under-delivers. In what ways could your marketing imagery be breeding mistrust and degrading your brand’s value?Read More
I have helped many organizations build their brands from the inside out for over ten years. In the process, I have learned what is critical to the success of those endeavors.
1) RIGHT RESEARCH-INFORMED PROMISE: Your brand’s promise must be based upon customer, competitor and internal insight. This can be achieved through qualitative and quantitative research and an honest assessment of internal strengths, weaknesses, core competencies and strategic intent. The promise must be unique, compelling and believable.
2) CONSENSUS BUILDING PROCESS: Your brand’s promise must be developed through a consensus-building process that includes (at a minimum) your organization’s chief executive officer (CEO) and his or her staff and its top marketing executives. Don’t leave this step to an internal marketing department or an external marketing agency (unless they accomplish this through a consensus building process). Brand strategy and positioning is closely tied to organizational strategy, especially for organization level brands.
3) BRAND PROMISE TRANSLATED TO BRAND IDENTITY: The brand promise should be translated into a supporting brand identity, including logo, tagline and elevator speech among other key components. This should be integrated into a system that includes brand architecture and naming conventions. These should then take the form of guidelines that are available to all employees and business partners through an online platform. Digital asset management systems provide for even greater consistency control.
4) CUSTOMER TOUCHPOINT DESIGN: Involve your employees in brainstorming how you can bring your brand’s promise to life at each point of customer contact and how you can create new points of customer contact prior to the purchase, at the point of purchase, immediately after the purchase and on an ongoing basis during product/service usage and beyond. The brand’s promise must come to life in more than just its identity and in its marketing communications.Read More
The goal of any brand positioning exercise is to develop a brand promise that is unique, compelling and believable. Any successful brand positioning project must evaluate all potential brand promises against these three criteria – unique, compelling and believable. The winning promise must deliver against all three criteria or it won’t work. The only way to assess this is to measure each of these for each brand promise option with each key target audience.
As an example, we explored the following potential brand promises for Rochester, New York. This is how one target audience, current residents, evaluated them:Read More
Who cries for struggling auto dealers and manufacturers? It’s important for many that they succeed, so I know there are deep pockets of sympathy. I wrote this back in the fall to try and help soften the barbed emotional barriers that surround the buying experience.
Today Brad and I are adding to the effort. I’m hoping my old boss and Guest BSI Author, Kevin Roberts will add his thoughts as Saatchi & Saatchi has been very successful in building the Toyota brand.
Ideally, a brand promises relevant differentiated benefits to its target audiences. Those benefits should be understandable, believable and compelling. Some brands have chosen such a compelling combination of unique benefits that they are perceived to be without peers. Those brands stand alone in their customers’ consideration sets.
Here are some things that can be done to reinforce brands at auto dealerships:
•Know what your brand stands for and what makes it different
•Identify "proof points" for and "reasons to believe" your brand’s promise
•Refine (and even script) your brand promise "talking points"
•Hold an employee contest to identify new ways to reinforce the brand’s promise
•At staff meetings, brainstorm additional ways to reinforce the brand’s promise
•Identify new ways to reinforce the brand promise with customers and potential customers at all stages of the purchase decision process, including immediately after the purchase and on an ongoing basis during usage
•Make and distribute copies of third party endorsements of your brand, especially if they extol your brand for delivering on its unique promise
•Publicly recognize employees who have done an exceptional job of reinforcing the brand’s promise
•Have each employee think about and explain how he or she will reinforce the brand promise in his or her interactions with customers and potential customers
•Post the brand’s promise in a place where customers will see it
•Post brand promise reinforcement tips of the week (for dealership employees)
•Assign a chief brand advocate who is responsible for developing a comprehensive brand advocacy plan at your dealership
As a specific example, for higher-end automotive brands, any or all of the following can be implemented to reinforce the brand’s promise:
•Provide customers and potential customers with information/articles/newsletters on the latest advances in automotive technological innovation so they can stay "in the know"
•Create owner-oriented "white papers" on specific technology topics
•Provide owners with talking points on leading-edge automotive technology
•Compile and keep handy a comprehensive list of brand "firsts" in the industry
•Make current owners aware of the latest available technology upgrades/enhancements
for their cars
•Help current owners anticipate "next generation" enhancements
•Provide "sneak previews" of upcoming technology enhancements
•If you provide customers with product incentives or upgrades, chose ones that use leading edge technology (such as GPS, iPod, Bluetooth, digital satellite, etc.)
The bottom line: your brand will be much more successful if everyone in your dealership(s) can enthusiastically articulate your brand’s unique promise. Even better: everyone in your dealership discovers and implements new ways to reinforce your brand’s promise at every point of customer contact.Read More