Brand Promise

Checklist Guide


Your brand promise is crucial to your differentiation as it represents everything a company stands for — or does not stand for. It is the unique statement of what your company offers, what separates it from its rivals, and what makes it worthy of your customers’ consideration.

A brand promise is the tangible, emotional, and aspirational benefits your customer can expect to gain by using your brand or dealing with you.
With every interaction your customers have with your brand, your customers are either learning what your brand promises, or experiencing the reality behind that promise. If consumers know a brand promise is empty, they’ll just scoff at the disconnect between the message and the actual customer experience.

A great brand promise reflects careful consideration, courage, and creativity. The bolder and clearer the better. The best brand promises go big, challenge the status quo, and connect with consumers on a deep emotional level.

Some example brand promises:

  • H&M: “More fashion choices that are good for people, the planet and your wallet.”
  • Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
  • BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”
  • Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit ? one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”


1. We have a Brand Promise statement and it is simple and easy for everybody to remember and live up to

Why is this item important?

When most people think of the word, “brand” they think of the Nike Swoosh or McDonalds Golden Arches. But a brand is a lot more than a logo, icon, or memorable slogan.

A company’s brand is best summed up by its promise. And successful brands consistently deliver on their brand promises, which is how they create brand value.

It is a statement that tells the world what to expect when they come into contact with your brand in the shortest and most succinct way possible. It is a literal promise about your products or services and provides a beacon for your marketing and guides the direction of your customer experience.

Having a brand promise such as “We make safer tyres” gives you a tool to influence the feeling that reaches your prospects hearts and minds. They get what you do instantly and your staff understand exactly what they should be delivering day-in and day-out.

A strong brand promise will define your brand more than anything you say on your website or promotional material.

A strong brand promise;

– Drives new attitudes, behaviours and a more productive team.

– Helps your marketing and advertising to be clear and focused.

– Positively encourages product innovation through a customer first approach.

– Guides consistent delivery of brand experience to turn customers into advocates.


How can I tell if I meet this item in my business?

Are you familiar with the concept of a brand promise and have you formulated one for your business?


What do I need to do to meet this item?

Like every other founding principle of your brand strategy, your brand promise is a distilled understanding of every aspect of your company. It’s created by carefully planning the reaction and impact you’re hoping to achieve.

Rather than describing how you do what you do, your brand promise should describe the experience you deliver. A brand promise is a way for consumers to hold you accountable to the standard that sets you apart.

Even the world’s best brand promises vary wildly in structure, purpose and tone. But to the eye of the trained marketer, most brand promises have some common traits that show us what works best.

Think about the following traits to guide as you develop you own brand promise:

1: Indicative

Make your brand promise indicative of your brand experience, who you are, what you do or what makes you special. No marketing should exist without a purpose. This is your chance to communicate something vital about your experience, products, services or beliefs. Whatever that message is, it should say a lot about who you are.

These brand promises indicate specific experiences you can expect:

– The Judgement Free Zone – Planet Fitness
– Feel like a woman. – Revlon

2: Differentiating

We want to know why you matter. Since you probably sell or do the same thing as countless competitors, you should target an aspect of who you are, what you do or who you do so prospects understand easily what makes you special. Use that differentiating factor to build your brand promise on authenticity.

These companies make it easy to understand why they’re different:

– Melts in your mouth, not in your hands – M&M’s
– Be the world’s number one source of information. – Google

3: Measurable

You can’t prove or improve what you can’t measure.

So strive to make your brand promise something that can be quantified, on a scale that’s easily understood, like:

  • Time
  • Emotion
  • Quality
  • Savings
  • Distance

Recognise these measurable brand promises?

– 15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance. – Geico
– You’re going to like the way you look. – Men’s Wearhouse

4: Creates Value with Actionable Language

Focus on the “why” of your goods. What’s the end game? What feeling or accomplishment can people count on you for? What’s the life-enriching purpose of your products or services? Do you provide peace of mind? Happiness? A competitive business edge?

More than just being descriptive or aspirational, your brand promise should be something you do to provide more value to your consumers. Not every business provides value through cost savings. This is your opportunity to communicate the intangible worth of what you do.

Without providing value, your brand promise is just a slogan.

These brands provide very different types of value, neither of which is cheap:

– Creating happiness through magical experiences. – Disney
– The pursuit of perfection. – Lexus

5: Simple

Short, sweet and easy-to-understand is always the best strategy for crafting a universally-understood concept. This principle is extra important if your brand emphasises simplicity, like Uber. This app-based taxi alternative uses simple language and very plain words to communicate just how simple their service is: Tap a button, get a ride.

You don’t need adjectives to overcomplicate your message if you’re selling simplicity. So leave them out. If you need more than one breath to say it, it’s way too long. Try to stick with 10 words or less, even if your message is a bit more complex.

– The highest quality – the lowest prices. – Aldi
– Save money. Live better. – Walmart

6: Consistent

Another key consideration is consistency. What’s the true message across your whole brand?

Yeti makes a wide range of premium outdoor products, from coolers to clothing. Their brand promise is to deliver exceptional performance and durability in any environment. No matter what they’re selling, that message works, because everything they make is high-quality and made for withstanding extreme elements.

7: Bold but Honest

Don’t spend money marketing a message that’s going to be ignored. Make a bold, unapologetic claim that gets the attention of both consumers and competition. (As long as it’s true.) False or exaggerated claims can be disastrous and costly in both legal settlements and reputation.

8: Speaks to What Matters Most

Brand promises are not meant to prove you’re everything to everybody. That’s a dangerous pitfall of all marketing. Make some claims and take a stand that turns some people off. You’ll be glad you did when your core customers become loyal brand advocates.

Think about what matters to your consumers. Why do they want you around? What makes them tick? What do they care about? Use your brand promise to speak to the core of whatever that is.

How is that done well?

– Designed for the creative pursuit of being you. – Vans
– We provide for environmentally responsible adventure. – Patagonia
– Producing pure, quality products you can trust. – Earth’s Best Organic

A formula to follow

The reality is creating a great brand promise is a difficult exercise. To help you along, consider all of the traits above and use the following formula to get you started:

We promise to [how] + target [who] + outcome [what] = Brand Promise or even more simply put, what you do for whom.

Finally, Your brand promise articulates an idea that goes beyond the rational benefits that worked in the past, and extols a higher-order emotional reward. A brand promise is not a slogan or advertising headline. It is not, by definition, a public statement (though it can be as long as your brand truly lives up to it). Finally, it is not a “unique selling proposition”. Indeed, its uniqueness and differentiating power comes not from what it says, but how it transforms the way your organisation creates strong and meaningful connections with people.

2. Our Brand Promise is clearly displayed on our website and in all of our marketing collateral

Why is this item important?

Every single touchpoint of your site represents an opportunity to express and convey what your brand represents.

Every pixel on your website is either helping you build your brand or it isn’t. It represents one of the cornerstones of your brand which is why is should be used to let your customers and prospects understand clearly how you set yourself apart from the competition. A great way of doing that is demonstrating how you deliver on your brand promise.

Your website should exemplify your brand — an online manifestation of the principles you stand for. To this end you should look for ways to support and demonstrate your brand promise in every facet of the site. Showing how you live up to your brand promise online is how your organisation will build trust and credibility.


How can I tell if I meet this item in my business?

You have a brand promise and when you developed your website you and your team strategically and creatively looked at ways you could demonstrate and express how you deliver on you promise in deep and meaningful ways.


What do I need to do to meet this item?

The best way to demonstrate how this is done is via an example. Following is a list of ways a brand promise could be brought to life for an imaginary Banking website who’s brand promise is; making banking easier, simpler and more convenient.

While developing your website consider the following;

  • Work hard on effective imagery and messaging, the homepage must set the tone, establishing the bank as the one to turn to for a pampered financial experience.
  • The navigation should be action-oriented and guide the user to make his or her own decisions.
  • Friendly callouts, such as “How can we help you today?” emphasise the point that the bank truly supports consumers’ unique needs.
  • Accessible functionality, such as convenient live chat and simple contact forms, should be persistent throughout the site, making it easy for consumers to ask questions and get in touch.
  • Contextual resources, such as bands of relevant information and in-line tips, tools and articles, build upon the notion of superior service.
  • It should be very easy for consumers to contact your call centre via the website with easy-to-find links.
  • While a lot of banks base their brands on service, in this case the bank should take the concept to the next level on its site by putting names to faces, displaying staff members’ profile pics and contact information in carousels on relevant pages throughout the site.
  • They should allow consumers to leave ratings and reviews on service offerings, so they feel vested in your financial institution and others can learn from these interactions with your brand.
3. Our Brand Promise statement clearly demonstrates how we are different from our competitors, it clearly describes the value we deliver to our target customers and it is grounded in what they care about most.

Why is this item important?

Most brands know that they need to stand out, but when it comes time to execute, many take the safe route. They compete with the market, instead of trying to break out ahead of the curve. But differentiation is one of the most important elements of a successful brand. If you aren’t different, you are dying. To stand out in the sea of sameness, you must differentiate your brand through a seamless choreography of messaging, branding, product offerings, and communications.

Brand differentiation is less about what you do, and more about how and why you do it. To differentiate yourself in a meaningful way, your brand promise must be relevant and measurable. Being different for the sake of being different will not move the needle.


How can I tell if I meet this item in my business?

You have spent the time and energy, and possibly employed a professional who helped guide you through the process of creating a brand promise statement using the five building blocks that help many companies create an effective brand promise.


What do I need to do to meet this item?

Follow are five building blocks you need should consider when you create your brand promise.

If you already ready have your brand promise, review the following to make sure it’s the best it can be.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Simple

It should be no longer than a simple sentence or two. A brand promise is not the same thing as a mission statement, which can often get convoluted with rambling sentences.

An effective brand promise combines the catchiness of a tagline and reinforces it with the essence of the company’s mission.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Credible

If the customer experience doesn’t match the brand promise, the value of your brand is weakened. An example of a brand promise not living up to expectations comes from Ford Motor Company.

During the 1980s, Ford’s brand promise was “Quality is Job 1.” However, owners of Ford’s vehicles were not impressed as they routinely spent money on repairs. It got so bad that consumers gave Ford their own version of a brand promise: “Ford—Found On Roadside Broken.”

Today, Ford’s brand promise is “Go Further.”

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Different

If your brand promise sounds similar to other brand promises, especially a competitor’s, how can you distinguish yourself from the pack?

You need to discover what makes your company unique and different from your competitors. This goes beyond the features and benefits of your product and straight to the soul of your company and heart of your employees.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Memorable

A brand promise should impact every decision your company makes. While a promise may not be as catchy as a tagline or slogan, it must be memorable enough for employees to embrace it and use it during customer interactions.

I’ll give my personal take on the Nike promise: I’m more moved by the asterisk (if you have a body, you’re an athlete) than I am the main promise. It’s a reminder to me that Nike is about the common man rather than the elite athletes who wear the products.

  1. A Brand Promise Is: Inspiring

People, in general, will act when they feel an emotional connection to a person, product, or company.

An effective brand promise helps establish that connection by being inspiring. At the same time, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. A brand promise is meant to inspire, but you also want to be realistic. A great example of an inspirational brand promise is Apple’s “Think Different.”

4. Meeting our Brand Promise is the core focus of all our business activities

Why is this item important?

A brand is simply how a business is perceived in the mind of someone who has experienced it in some way. Before online reviews and social media, a company could present an image of the business that was far from the real experience. This is no longer the case.

For example, if a company presents itself as eco-friendly but continues to use non-recyclable, single-use plastic, customers may share their observations on social media and the mainstream media might even pick it up. The difference between the claim by the business and the reality will result in a serious loss of trust amongst customers. The feeling that the brand is inconsistent in what it does and says can even creep into the customer’s perception of the quality of the product or service itself. So meeting your brand promise, ensuring that the hole team live up to it is key to building a differentiated brand

Your brand will also experience extraordinary things on an internal level when you embrace a purposeful brand promise. Meaningful change happens from the top to the bottom. A spirit full of focus and energy turns your organisation into one that is more fluid, innovative, collaborative, and gratifying.

A strong brand promise drives new attitudes and behaviours across your team. It evolves your marketing and advertising. It inspires new product development. It makes your workplace more humane, more respectful, and more productive.

Operating deep within your company, your brand promise finds its way into the hearts and minds of your customers and prospects by giving them deeper reasons to love, and be attracted to, your brand.

Most significant, a purposeful brand promise has the power to transform your leadership style and advance your career. By embracing the promise yourself, and living it in ways that inspire, motivate, and reward your followers, you be come a leader people love to follow.

Why? Because through the brand promise, they can see their own quest for purpose realised. They are no longer just doing a job, they are using their work to fulfil their sense of purpose. Their 9-5 has been transformed into meaningful work that is intricately tied to their sense of self. Likewise, people just won’t buy your products or simply pass them by, they will buy into your ideals because they are something in which they can share.


How can I tell if I meet this item in my business?

While developing your brand promise you worked closely with many of your team members and involved them early in the process so they now have ‘buy-in’ and a greater understanding of what you’re aiming to achieve through the development of your promise.

You also went through the process of drilling down into the day-to-day and identified every ‘Touch Point Action’ you could create within the business so that you fulfil your brand promise.


What do I need to do to meet this item?

Work on identifying every touchpoint in your business that you can influence so it gives your customers the experience you promise in you brand promise.

Following is a simple example of what a Hotel chain who promises “All the comforts of home” could do within different areas of the business to bring their promise to life. They could decide to;

  • Have policy and process that ensures all staff are familiar with new arrivals so they can greet new arrivals by their first name
  • Budget for staff to experience city tours to better inform guests of local offering
  • Fit out the rooms with more homely furniture, not the standard furnishings so common to hotels today
  • Provide high quality beds and accessories reviewed by housekeeping on a six monthly basis
  • Provide aromatherapy toiletries, robe, slippers, morning newspaper
  • Make sure the reception has comfortable furniture, free coffee machine, free wifi/ipads to use and fresh flowers daily
  • Work on creating a detailed customer database to understand personal preferences and for promotional purposes
  • Create a Loyalty Program for repeat customers
  • Focus on appropriate staff behaviour/culture training
  • Include homely meal options in the food areas
5. We use our Brand Promise as a strategic planning and business improvement tool for analysing and closing gaps by asking "what do we need to improve/do better, to meet our promise".

Why is this item important?

As you have discovered, a brand promise is a value or experience a customer can expect to receive every time they interact with your business. The more you can deliver on that promise, the stronger your brand is valued in the eye of customers and employees and the more successful you will be.

While the actual product or service the customer is buying has to be great, it’s the entire customer experience that determines if the brand promise is really being delivered.  It’s not just what they get, but how they feel about it that determines if the customer is truly satisfied at the end.


How can I tell if I meet this item in my business?

You have a process for reviewing you brand ‘touch points’ on a regular basis. I suggest yearly.


What do I need to do to meet this item?

Identify everything possible you can think of to do including any action, standard or commitment necessary for helping you deliver on that promise.

Here is where other parts of the business must step up and take accountability for providing the value Marketing has promised the customer they’ll receive by choosing the brand. 

If the brand promise includes a low-price factor, the Purchasing and Manufacturing departments need to keep costs down so that promise can be fulfilled. 

If the promise includes a guarantee of fast, courteous service, the Customer Service department needs to be onboard with that and have systems in place to ensure customers are served quickly and courteously. 

If the brand promise implies simplicity are you making it simple for returns to be made? Is you website simple to navigate?

The best way to begin identifying every touchpoint in your business. A touchpoint can be defined as any way a consumer can interact with a business, whether it be person-to-person, through a website, an app or any form of communication.

Creating one will help you engage internal teams in working together to interpret and reinforce your brand appropriately at all touchpoints. It’s a visual representation of all your brand touchpoints and how different stakeholder groups impact them.

Follow these steps to develop one:

  1. Audit

Compile a list and collect examples of all the ways people in the outside world come into contact with your company and all the experiences your company provides.

Select an organising logic to plan your audit and categorise your findings. Possible approaches:

  1. Interactions with customers prepurchase, purchase, and post purchase — and then add non-customer interactions like corporate touchpoints.
  2. Static touchpoints like advertising or packaging, people touchpoints like call centers or salespeople, and interactive touchpoints like social media or websites
  3. Owned vs. shared vs. non-proprietary touchpoints

Tip: remember to include all of your products

  1. Map

List the internal group(s) responsible for each touchpoint and/or the functions that produce each touchpoint

Identify the common groups/functions across touchpoints and compile the touchpoints by group/function

Tip: Start from the touchpoint and identify which group(s) impacts it most directly; then work backwards to determine the other group(s) that might be involved template

3: Assemble

Organise the list of touchpoints by group or function and then put together a wheel:

  • Put your brand in the centre
  • Show the different groups and/or functions that impact touchpoints as spokes radiating out
  • Use layers inside the wheel to organise groups and functions together
  • Position all of the touchpoints on the rim based on the groups/functions
  • Share the wheel with various people in your organisation to get feedback and be prepared to go through several rounds of draft wheels before a final version is set
  1. Evaluate – evaluate the experience your company delivers at each touchpoint by using:
  • Consumer/customer research – conduct primary research to learn how your customers perceive your brand and how well they think you perform at each touchpoint
  • Self assessments – collect ratings from people throughout your organisation (from leaders to frontline employees) on the company’s performance at each touchpoint
  • Analyst and industry reports – review the publicly available commentary and data about your organisation’s execution compared to competitors’
  1. Prioritise

Designate the top 5 – 10 touchpoints that your organisation should focus its efforts on right away. To prioritise touchpoints:  

  • Use the sources of information from #4 to determine which touchpoints have the most impact on customers’ and other outside stakeholders’ expectations and experiences
  • For the most impactful touchpoints, compare your performance (as indicated in step #4 above) to your brand platform and desired customer experience to illuminate which touchpoints are most out of alignment
  • For each of the touchpoints with the largest gaps, determine • the estimated cost of making improvements to it • the importance of it your company’s longer term goals and objectives Rank each touchpoint by cost and long-term importance.
  1. Act

Create an action plan for optimising the top touchpoints

  • Identify what you need to start doing, stop doing, continue doing to improve
  • Set a timeline with key milestones
  • Conduct follow-up consumer/customer research to compare your progress to the baseline measurement identified in step #4 above

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