Promises Ave.

Last week’s post on Truth in Advertising briefly touched on the importance of delivering your brand promise, but I didn’t give you much explanation about it. (Not exactly fair, is it?)

We all know many brands which either deliver their brand promise on the nose (Apple), or get close but miss the mark a bit (Microsoft). The problem with the latter brand is our expectations have been lowered about what we can expect from their products. We are less willing to shell out for their stuff knowing that we must expect periodic system crashes.

Apple, on the other hand, has such fiercely loyal customers they line up for days ahead of a new product release to buy the first ones at the Apple store.

Do your customers clamor at your door for your latest offering? …Would you like them to?

A Crystal Clear Brand Promise

If you think Apple gets the super-loyal customers because their products are top of the line, that’s true. But WalMart also gets zillions of loyal customers, and their products are not the priciest on the planet. In fact, their slogan makes their promise crystal clear: “Save money. Live better.” The WalMart target market is not the Apple target market. But they both deliver on their promises.

Price does not equal delivery on the promise. With each of these companies, customers know exactly what they’re getting. And each one has carefully crafted, fine-tuned and refined their brand promises to ensure their respective target markets come clamoring when they need something they each offer.

What Makes a Great Brand Promise?

Do you have a company slogan or tagline? (They aren’t always the same thing…but that’s for another post.)

Apple took off in the 21st century with its “Think Different” slogan which perfectly matched its amazing innovations such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. They sure do ‘think different!’

Why do you need a company slogan or tagline to make a brand promise?

An easy example is right in front of you: I’ve mulled over a company name change for years! “Cornucopia Creations” is a mouthful for many and could mean ‘creations’ in many industries. That’s why I have “Bountiful Ideas in Modern Marketing and Design” as a tagline to explain what specific industry I’m in and what services I offer. (And this isn’t to say I won’t change it in the future for even greater clarification to my target market.)

Now instead of me driveling on about my company, let’s take ‘Joe’s Insurance Co.’ as an example. The name explains what the product and service is, but what makes Joe’s company stand out from the rest?

Joe needs a slogan!

If Joe specializes in boat or RV insurance, it could be: “From Stem to Stern, Your Complete Coverage is Our Concern!” Cheesy? (Yes, it was off the top of my head.)

Now you know more about what Joe’s company is promising – which conveys more than a company without a tagline or slogan.

Slogans don’t have to be the brand promise.

Back to me: A full iteration of my brand promise would look like this: “Cornucopia Creations has bountiful ideas in modern marketing and design to attract more customers and generate more revenues for you in a fun, productive and exciting collaborative relationship.”

See? It’s really much too long to be a slogan or tagline.

It is my goal, however, to convey that promise to clients through many means. It begins with the visuals (logo, website, brochures). I strive to make them fun and exciting. I use humor in my writing because it’s the best way to maintain client happiness, satisfaction, attention, learning and so on.

You certainly wouldn’t be reading this newsletter if I wrote it like a college textbook. (Can anything be drier and more dull than a ten pound textbook???) Boring!

Your brand isn’t just your logo, slogan or website.  It’s a combination of these and many other elements of your business.

Why Make a Brand Promise?

The brand promise is like the target of a torpedo. In order to make customers come back time and time again (and attract new ones), you need something to continually zero in on to stay on top of your target. (You are your brand!)

Running a business is filled with myriad details. You may be contending with dozens of business details day in and day out from licensing, reports, payroll, employee guidance, technical issues with your website, a new marketing campaign and customer service… to name but a few! It’s easy to forget why you got into this business in the first place and lose sight of the target.

Remember Apple initially made a huge splash when it introduced the Macintosh. Years passed. Steve Jobs left. And the company was on the brink of bankruptcy in part because it lost its vision and was no longer delivering on the original brand promise. Jobs got them back focused on it when he returned to the company and began introducing all those ‘i’ products.

Getting off track can happen to any business and owner, particularly if you feel overwhelmed by your many duties to keep the ship on course. Not only is your customer unsure of your brand promise, but it’s highly likely your own overloaded brain circuits also have forgotten why you originally started your business.

Quick Tips to Craft Your Brand Promise

If you’re already on overload by a plethora of projects you’re juggling, I’ll keep this simple. Here are four easy steps for creating or revisiting your brand promise:

1. What are your values?

  • Write them down! (Writing aids in getting them to truly sink in.) What values are the foundation by which you do business? Where do you draw the line in the sand you won’t cross? (These will lead you to your promise.)
  • Jot down basic vocabulary that resonates with you to get yourself started (such as): honesty, value, professionalism, give-back, strong ethics, community, advanced, care…. Prioritize the values if this helps you.

2. What’s your mission?

  • This could be your slogan or a goal. Do you wish to serve the community in a unique way? What do you know you do extremely well that helps others?
  • Keep it short – one or two sentences at most. This should be in alignment with your core values. Think about that torpedo – straight and on-target.
  • It can be written as a mission statement, but the key is to keep it short and sweet. Stay away from those long, boring corporate mission statements that no one pays attention to!

3. What’s your vision?

  • This is the fun part! Do you have a vision in your head of how you business should be when it’s humming along in top form? Do you have a vision of what you want customers to say and feel about your business? Do you know what you want to accomplish with this business long-term? Write it down…
  • Aim high. How much of the target market do you want to dominate? What helps you focus on the most important aspects of your business? What is your product or service when it’s fully developed from A to Z?
  • This statement is for you personally. It doesn’t have to be shared with anyone else. This is what inspires you to continually fine tune your business.

4. What’s your brand promise?

  • Use your answers from the last three points to drill down to a short brand promise. Write it out. Post everywhere that helps you and your customer.
  • Yes, it should be as short, concise and direct as possible. Make the goal of your business easy to digest when read.

Here’s the funny thing: Once you get this down, suddenly the pieces will begin to fall together faster and easier to deliver on your promise. Things that once seemed important for your business will lose value. And other things that seemed too difficult to tackle now come together smoothly and easily to fulfill your dream.

(Send me your brand promise! And…or…post it in the comments to this newsletter.)