What is a brand promise? Like most things related to the subject of branding, there are a lot of esoteric and conflicting definitions floating around.
To make it simple…
A brand promise is any claim you make about the experience your clients can expect when they work with you
What a brand promise is not
It’s closely related to a brand’s purpose — the reason why your business exists and the impact you’re here to make for your clients and even the world.
It’s also closely related to your value proposition, which serves to distinguish you from your competition by communicating the difference in value people can expect when they choose you versus the other options they’re considering.
But here’s the difference…
A brand promise is any statement that describes the experience you intend to deliver for your clients
A brand promise can be expressed in any number of your marketing messages, including your purpose statement, mission statement, tagline, slogan, advertisements… anywhere you make a claim about the experience your client can expect, you’re making a brand promise.
It can also be implied rather than explicit. For example, creating a strong brand personality is one way to create a promise about the type of person they’re signing up to do business with.
(Not clear on this? Grab this quick exercise 👇)
An effective brand promise is…
If you make a claim about what it’s like to work with you, be prepared to deliver on that promise or it’s going to backfire.
The idea is that when your work together is through, your clients will automatically describe the promise you fulfilled in their reviews and testimonials.
- What policies and policies can you establish to ensure you back up your marketing claims?
- When you express your brand’s personality in your marketing messages, in what ways can you ensure a consistent experience? For example, if you’ve defined your brand as fun and energetic, how can you make their experience fun and full of energy?
People can see through marketing bullshit, so you want to avoid using superlatives and hype, e.g. “the best” and “amazing miracle results!”
Back up your promises with proof using case studies, testimonials, and results expressed as data wherever possible.
A brand promise is about your customer, not you. The claims you make have to be something they care about, so demonstrate that you understand their problems, needs, and desires and believe me, it’ll get their attention.
A brand promise should be written in human language and easy to understand. The simpler the better. A great example of this is:
“FedEx, when it absolutely, positively needs to be there overnight.”
This is a clear promise using just a short and simple phrase that they’re going to deliver that package for you by the next day.
The simplest way to create an effective brand promise
This is a great exercise to help you frame your thinking about creating brand promises in your marketing messages…
Go through past testimonials and reviews and words you clients have used to describe the experience of working with you and look for patterns; then, steal their words
For example, I send out a client feedback survey at the end of a project. I looked at the way my clients described their experience — words like “empowering” and “fun” and “I feel confident in my client attraction efforts” were used over and over again.
Based on that, I use their own words to create messages that describe the experience of working with me.
The reason why this is so effective is that my actual clients have told me what the actual experience is. I can make promises to people who don’t know me yet feeling confident I can deliver that experience them too.
Then, I back up those claims with their testimonials and that’s powerful proof because it’s using the same language.
Listen to your clients to understand their actual experience. Then, you can use those words to create a brand promise
Create a tagline using your clients’ own words to make a brand promise to people who don’t know you yet
After doing this exercise, I created a short statement that I now use on my social media bios and in my brand copywriting: “I empower service-based business owners to brand bravely and attract clients they love.”
My promise is that I not only help my clients to brand their businesses and attract great clients, but I do so in a way that makes them feel confident and empowered.
Then, deliver on that promise — you gotta walk the walk
In my process, I look for areas where they might hold themselves back from doing the sometimes scary things required to get visible with the right people.
Tech issues and overwhelm are two other common areas of insecurity, so I almost always include personalized training videos to address their concerns.
In other words, I’m always making decisions that will help me create the experience of feeling empowered. When my clients describe their experience in testimonials as “empowering” automatically, I know I’ve delivered, and connected my brand promise to the actual experience.
What is your brand promise? How do your clients already feel about the experience? Are you communicating it clearly in your marketing messages?
Let’s talk about it, hit me up in comments!
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.