When you’re a decent person, you always keep a little promise.
To the uninitiated, a small promise is usually between two people and carries more weight than a spit shake, legal contract, oral agreement, and “I swear by mine.” [insert family member]”Statements combined. It’s part of our social contract – once it’s agreed, it can’t be broken.
A brand promise is the scaled, commercial version of the small promise, with the brand holding one finger and the target audience holding the other.
Except in this case, a break will not only ruin your reputation but it can also affect your sales.
Let’s talk about how to make a brand promise and see examples of well-known brands.
What is a brand promise?
A brand promise shows what consumers can expect from a brand at all touchpoints. It serves as a core value of a company and informs all aspects of the company, from messaging to customer service.
Your brand promise should be central to your business. This stays constant as it grows and evolves.
Not every brand promise is explicit. In many cases, it’s more of an internal mantra shared with employees, investors, and partners. However, once you’ve built a strong brand identity and clear messaging, your brand promise can be carried over by your target audience.
There is often some confusion between a brand promise and a slogan. So let’s break it down.
While it can be as short as a tagline, a brand promise tells consumers, “Hey, this is what you find every time you interact with our brand.”
So why do you have one? Well, a brand promise:
- Helps internal and external stakeholders know what to expect from you.
- Gaining consumer confidence.
- Serves as the foundation on which to build how your business works from a customer interaction perspective.
After all, one thing to consider with a brand promise is a promise. So if you break it, it could hurt your reputation and sales.
For example, let’s say your brand promise is something like “innovation at every turn,” and your company hasn’t brought out anything new and fresh in the last five years to put off potential consumers.
Here are the most common types of brand promises:
- Emotionally: A promise that speaks to emotions.
- Action-based: A promise tied to a specific action.
- Social: A promise based on ethical or social responsibility.
How to Build a Brand Promise
1. Focus on your audience.
Your brand promise describes your commitment to your audience. To find out what your promise should be, you first need to determine what your audience wants from you.
It goes beyond a specific product or service and is more specific to the experience you are providing.
For example, Planet Fitness’s brand promise is based on people’s reluctance to hit the gym for fear of judgment and embarrassment. In response, the brand promises to create an environment that encourages people of all fitness levels to hit the gym and be comfortable while exercising.
Another goal of your brand promise is to set you apart from your competitors. What makes you unique, is it your customer service, your product, your mission, your values? Use that to make a distinctive promise.
In the case of Planet Fitness, the brand did something that nobody else did: tackle the problem with the fitness environment, not the users.
2. Think about your customer touchpoints.
With your brand promise, you guarantee your customers something.
So put yourself in the shoes of your consumers and imagine how these interactions should work. Is there a certain feeling? What do you have to win?
Once you’ve put these into words, you can create a brand promise that will reflect the experience you want to promote.
3. Keep it simple, unique, and inspiring.
Your brand promise should be clear and to the point of what you can say in one sentence. It won’t necessarily be as fun as a tagline, but it should definitely instill trust and confidence.
If you can’t get your promise out in this way, you may not have fully spelled out the purpose of your brand. If so, first ask yourself the following questions:
- What should my customers expect from me?
- What does my company stand for?
- What makes us unique
Examples of brand promises
Note that some of these examples of branding promises are being adopted and others have been shared by the companies. Use them as inspiration when making your own.
- HubSpot – Helping millions of businesses grow better.
- Nike – Inspire every athlete in the world.
- Apple – Think differently.
- Starbucks – Inspire and promote the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.
- coke – Refresh the world in mind, body and spirit and inspire moments of optimism.
- Anima iris – Feel empowered and encouraged.
- Telfar – Redefine luxury as accessible and inclusive.
- Tru color – Celebrate our differences.
- Noirbnb – Make a safe place for POC to travel and discover new adventures.
- Pur Home Clean – Change the way you think about cleaning.
What all of these promises have in common is that they never relate to any particular offer or particular numerical goal. Instead, they are statements that encompass the broader purpose of the brand.
Brand promise template
There is no precise formula for creating your brand promise. However, we mentioned that it’s a mix of a few things that make your business what it is. Here is a formula you can use to build your promise:
Positioning + vision + value proposition = your brand proposition
Write down your answers and begin to summarize these concepts into one succinct idea.
The design of your brand promise should be a top priority when developing your identity. Without that core message, you will likely struggle to develop your brand identity and strong messaging to connect with your target audience.
As with everything, expect some iterations. You won’t always have the answer right away.
It may take a few sessions to flesh it out, and that’s fine. Because once you have it, it will be anchored both internally and externally as your business grows.