Stated or unstated, a brand promise is what customers expect from your company — and you.
Sometimes, your customers are unhappy because your brand promise doesn’t match up with your delivery of that promise. In other words, your actions don’t match your words. Or, said another way, the company is not a “man of its word,” sometimes exposing enemies deep in the heart of the organization.
First, the traditional definitions of a company’s brand and brand promise:
Brand // Contrary to popular belief, brands are not logos. Brands include logos, for sure, but brands cover an entire range of a company’s recognition from its name to its products and services to its image and the emotions that the logo or name conjures up. The logo might be considered the leading element of the brand, but branding also can include other elements such as the business’ physical atmosphere, marketing materials and word-of-mouth.
Brand Promise // The general concept of a brand promise is the intended feeling and relationship the customer will have when they have an interaction with that brand. A high-falutin concept, yes, but at its core, brand promise leads to customer expectations. Customers expect an entirely different experience at McDonald’s than they do at an upscale restaurant, for example.
Often, a company’s brand promise is not entirely stated to the public. BMW offers the promise of the “highest quality engineered” vehicles in the world. Volvo, on the hand, promises the “safest” vehicles on the planet. But baked into each of their promises is also excellent customer service.
Delivering On Your Brand Promise
When a customer has a bad interaction with a company, many times it’s because their expectations were not met. This is often because the brand promise did not meet the customer’s expectation of the value they paid for.
The meal may not have been delivered quickly enough, the waiter may have taken too long to greet them, the food might have not tasted “just right,” etc.
Again, most of the responsibility of your customer’s expectations falls on your brand promise and your customer service.
Why is it important to consider both your promise and your delivery of that promise? Because without a brand promise, you are selling a commodity. Your local insurance broker or dry cleaner probably doesn’t have a unique brand promise.
Without a customer service experience that matches your brand promise, you are merely selling an idea (your brand promise) with nothing to back it up.
Consider Progressive auto insurance, where they promise unbiased insurance quote comparisons. If you received only one much higher comparable quote, would that feel “progressive”?
For many customers, the experience that comes along with the product purchase is essential to how they feel about the company itself.
In most cases, the customer service received is how customers actually view their relatedness to a brand. This customer service experience is a major factor in how they make future purchase decisions. When your company’s brand promise and service delivery don’t sync up, your customers will figure it out.
It turns out customers are pretty savvy that way, and they vote with their dollars.
Your Personal Brand
Whether we like it or not, we all carry with us both a personal brand and a personal brand promise.
Our personal brand can be thought of as the lasting impression we leave with others. It’s the image in other’s mind that they have of us: visual, audible and kinesthetic or emotional.
Our personal brand promise includes the expectations that others have of us — she’s funny, he’s straightforward, she’s always late, he’s a know-it-all, etc. Whether you like it not, everyone has expectations of us, based on our words and our actions.
Your delivery based on your personal brand promise is analogous to your customer service experience.
Your personal brand promise and your honoring of those promises must always match.
Otherwise, you are not a person of your word.
This is one reason, for example, that if you are always on time for appointments and you are suddenly late without notice, others might think there is a problem. They have always relied on your punctuality and even view it as part of your brand promise.
Consider what your personal brand and brand promises are. They can always change and evolve. They may be different in business than they are socially. But know this to be true — your actions must match your words. Your “brand” promise is your promise.