explicit brand promise

Many brands are quite explicit about their promise to customers. They may rely on a single tag line or statement that communicates a very specific promise. That sentiment is repeated through all the touchpoints with customers. Even if the promise isn’t repeated verbatim, the sentiment is always there and used as the foundation for any brand-related initiative. Specific campaigns may introduce new messages that build on the promise – but that original promise always remains at the core.

This repetition and consistency makes it obvious to customers what they can expect from that brand’s products or services. And it’s also obvious to employees. They know what their brand represents, and it’s likely that culture within the organization is aligned behind delivering the promise.

Customers May Expect Something Different than What is Being Delivered

Other brands take a more implicit approach to their promises. They are far less bold in stating what the brand represents, which can introduce a gray area where customers may expect a different promise than what you are actually delivering – or what you think you are delivering. Even if your promise is not overtly expressed, customers will always have a definite idea of what they think your brand represents. That gap between their expectation and what you’re actually delivering sets the stage for potential disconnects and disappointments that can impact long-term loyalty and growth.

That gap can also introduce points of confusion for employees. They may not be clear on the promise they represent, and may not understand their role in contributing to its delivery, whether directly or indirectly. If employees aren’t clear on the promise, culture will probably suffer. That could manifest as a general lack of engagement and accountability – or even the extreme of mistrust and cynicism in regards to leadership and the company in general.

If a business has an implied brand promise, there are some ways to clear up gray areas for customers and employees and make the promise more explicit.

  1. Listen to customers. What are they saying about their expectations of the brand? Do they feel like they receive what’s expected? Are there areas that seem to consistently fall short? Surveys, focus groups and informal research can shed light on the gaps between what a brand thinks it’s delivering versus what customers are expecting.
  2. Listen to employees. Ask what they think your brand stands for. Listen to what they say about interactions with customers. Are there universal complaints they hear from customers regularly? Their anecdotal comments can reveal a lot that may not be apparent in more formal measures.
  3. Look at competitors. How do they communicate their promise? Are they implicit or explicit? How well do you think they actually deliver what’s being promised?
  4. Hone the implied promise. Marketing teams can sharpen the brand messages so that the promise is stated more clearly and specifically. Even if there’s not a single, defined statement of promise, work can be done to establish messages that communicate the values and beliefs that support the brand.
  5. Establish discipline and consistency in messages. Further to the work of marketing teams stated above, rigor and discipline can be put into place that enables consistency in messages. This applies to internal and external messages. That discipline and consistency is equally as important when communicating to employees as it is to customers.

Whether the promise is explicit or implicit, companies that intentionally align behind their brand promise are poised for greater success and stronger connections to customers and employees. To find out more about what makes these brands unique, you might enjoy this article:

The Power of the Customer Promise: Characteristics of Aligned Brands

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.