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Category: Brand Promise

Brand Promise

Articulating The Brand Promise

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Brand Strategy Brand Promise

I was talking with a business associate of mine today. She is working with an organization that has grown from a start-up to a company with more than 1,000 employees.  The organization produces high quality products and is growing rapidly however to the CEO’s credit, he is noticing chinks in the company’s armor, chinks that are due to organization growth and size. In the past, he managed the organization by selecting the right people and modeling the right set of values, attitudes and behaviors. Business growth was the result of intuition, trial and error and agility. But now the company is starting to experience unacceptable employee turnover in its manufacturing plants (among other issues). The company has not formally articulated its mission, vision or values. It has not crafted a brand promise and it does not have an elevator speech. Employees on the plant floor are not quite sure what the organization’s broader mission is. They don’t know how what they do contributes to some larger vision. For them, it is a job.

But aren’t missions, visions and values and brand promises and elevator speeches just collections of words? Yes they are. But they are a strategic collection of words that create a shared vision, motivate people to a higher calling, and rally them around what they need to do for the organization to succeed. Words can be very powerful. Leaders have inspired revolutions with their speeches and they have gotten their followers to take on seemingly impossible tasks successfully.

When we conduct mission, vision and values workshops or brand positioning workshops, they not only lead to a set of inspiring words, but they also achieve leadership team consensus on advantageous business models and strategies. It is a way to rally the troops starting at the very top of the organization. The larger the organization is, the more important this becomes. Many entrepreneurs do not realize how important it is to put these sorts of things in place when their organizations reach a certain size in which they can no longer personally interact with every employee on a regular basis. If you lead a rapidly growing organization that has not yet established its mission, vision, values or brand promise, know that at some point in the future it will be important to do so to enable further growth and success.

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning Workshop, the Brand Storytelling Workshop Series and Brand Strategy and Customer Co-Creation Workshops

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

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Brand Promise

Keeping Brand Promises

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Brand Promise TOMS

In The Blake Project’s line of work (brand consulting) we spend most of our time helping organizations identify and develop the most advantageous brand strategies and brand promises. But of equal, and perhaps greater, importance is consistently delivering on those strategies and promises over time. Communicating the brand promise is one thing. Delivering on it is yet another. Communication of the promise is relatively easy. Develop a creative brief, create a marketing plan, retain a marketing agency, develop the creative and the campaign and the media plan and begin to communicate the message to the marketplace. This can all be accomplished within the marketing or communications function itself.

The difficult part is aligning the organization in support of the brand promise. Consider what might be a part of this. The brand promise might have implications for employee recruitment and training, performance metrics, organization design, internal systems, processes and procedures, customer feedback loops, investment and budgeting decisions, recognition and reward systems, product and service features, quality standards, customer service design…and the list could go on and on.

This implies that internal communication and training regarding the brand strategy and promise is critical to the organization’s success. Everyone must understand what the brand is promising. Further, it would be advantageous for everyone to understand why that particular brand strategy and promise was chosen. Next, each person, from the CEO and members of the leadership team to salespeople and receptionists must understand what he or she can personally do to deliver against the promise. This certainly implies the need for communication and training but also for discussion, dialog, personal commitments and tough decisions.

So when you develop a new brand strategy and promise, understand to what you are committing your organization. Developing plans to align the organization in support of that new strategy and promise is essential.

The only thing worse than not making a unique and compelling brand promise is making one but then failing in delivering against it.

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

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Brand Promise

Getting The Brand Promise Right

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A brand promise is the commitment to deliver made between that brand and its audience. It’s made, of course, in order to encourage that audience to buy. Ultimately of course a promise lives or dies on whether it is believed and delivered on – no surprises there – but the promise itself is shaped by a range of factors: the nature of the offering; the capabilities and capacity of the brand; the rival promises of competitors.

What’s often overlooked is that the character of the promise itself changes depending on the sector. Let me give an extreme example: a retail-style promise made by a professional services firm would fail. Imagine if a patent attorney promised her customers that they would “love how our intellectual property advice makes you feel”. Sure, it’s hardly a distinctive promise anyway, but clients would be laughing all the way to the door. (Equally, a professional services firm’s approach applied to selling domestic vacuum cleaners would be awkward to say the least.)

That’s because the style and nature of the promise and the commitment itself needs to align directly with the priorities of, and influences on, the decision maker. And that to my mind is where too many brand promises go wrong. They overlook how different the decision making processes are. Each process, and the factors that drive it, should decide the premise of the promise.

Business to consumer promises are most effective when they focus on excitement. Though the excitement factor itself may differ, retail brands and luxury marques generally make promises intended to make the pulses of buyers quicken – be that because buyers believe they’re getting a bargain, or they love the way something sounds or looks. The promises of retail brands, for the most part, need a high level of “feel-good” to be effective. Brands from Coke to Rolex understand this only too well. Very, very different promises – but the goal sentiment is to raise interest.

A brand making a business-to-business promise must focus on the key priority for that audience which is maximized value. Often the promise that best addresses that need is one focused on minimizing risk. Again, the promise aligns with the decision process. While for consumers, the decision driver is often one of spontaneity and thrill, for a business audience, the key drivers in evaluating a promise are around fulfilling business needs and representing an acceptable risk to the business model. Reputations, personal and corporate, are at stake along with dollars. For that reason, the B2B promise needs to revolve around reassurance – the work will be delivered and the results will have both a positive bottom line impact and also help boost reputation.

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Brad VanAuken Brand Promise

Making And Keeping Brand Promises

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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 byThe 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

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Brand Promise

Do You Deliver On Your Brand Promise?

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McDonalds Advertising
 
To the degree your brand meets the expectation of your customers, will define the true value by which your brand is measured.

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?

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