When most people think of the word, “brand” they think of the Nike Swoosh, Ford “blue oval,” McDonalds Golden Arches, or the “State Farm is There” jingle.
But a brand is a lot more than a logo, icon, or memorable slogan. As catchy as it may sound, it isn’t the “brand” in the true sense—and it certainly isn’t what makes the brand valuable.
A company’s brand is a promise. And successful brands consistently deliver on their promises, which is how they create brand value.
What’s a Brand Promise?
A brand promise is what the company commits to the people who interact with it. It’s not a description of what a company does in a literal sense. It’s a description of the company’s character. To some extent, it’s a mission; it’s how the company creates and delivers value. Also, it’s the feeling the company conveys to its stakeholders. Two restaurants, for example, may have similar menus, but provide different atmospheres, different associations, and different customer experiences based on their brand promises.
To illustrate, here are the brand promises from three highly successful, world-wide brands:
- The NFL: “To be the premier sports and entertainment brand that brings people together, connecting them socially and emotionally like no other.”
- Coca-Cola: “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
- Virgin: “To be genuine, fun, contemporary, and different in everything we do at a reasonable price.”
Interesting. In none of the above cases does the brand promise describe what these companies do or provide. The NFL’s brand promise says nothing about football. Coca-Cola doesn’t talk about providing the best soft drinks in the world. And Virgin’s promise goes a lot farther than seating passengers in airplanes. Good brand promises, like these, talk about what these companies promise to be for you, the consumer.
At the Bill Marsh Automotive Group, the company my brothers and I own and operate, our brand promise says nothing about cars and trucks. It is:
To be the gold standard of customer service… by striving to create positive experiences…every customer, every day.”
This promise impacts every decision we make. It compelled us to create a company-wide customer service training program that delivers over 1200 employee-hours of annual classroom training in customer care. Crafting this brand promise seven years ago permanently changed the culture of our entire company.
You are no different.
Just like these companies, the strength of your personal brand has everything to do with the promise you make to your target market. This could be your customers, co-workers, family members–anyone you interact with on any level. The more value you deliver and the more consistently you deliver it, the stronger your personal brand.
Here’s how author and personal branding consultant Susan Chritton describes a personal brand promise:
“Your brand promise is your unique promise of value you make to your target market that your brand will fulfill. It is the essence of what you have to offer and guides you in how you will live your personal brand. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special–what makes you different from other people. Crafting this promise requires understanding your values, interests, strengths, and personal qualities and using them to distinguish yourself.”
If you’ve never taken the time to clarify your brand promise, I encourage you to download my personal branding profile guide. It will require a commitment of time and thought, but if you are serious about building a strong personal brand, I guarantee you it will be well worth the investment.
Here’s a question: As you reflect on these three examples of corporate brand promises, what about you? What description do you want to make about your character? What feeling do you want to convey to the people who matter to you? How do you want to be remembered? I’m curious to know…post your comments.