Making A Strong Brand Promise

October 9, 2017

Promise.jpgLast week, we wrote about the importance of positioning. We discussed how brand strategy is really the act of making a business case for positioning a business (or product or service, etc.)  in a particular way relative to its competition. We talked about the steps that must be taken in order to get to a positioning statement. And we stressed how every positioning statement must contain a brand promise. A brand promise is that one, uniquely differentiating thing a brand offers a market that no competitor can match. It can be anything. I know of one attorney who bills himself as “The Food Lawyer”. He’s made it his business to familiarize himself with every facet of the law that has to do with food. If you’re in the food business – farming, processing, packaging, storing, distributing, grocery retailing, food service, etc., – and you need a lawyer, he’s the guy you call. I know another attorney whose brand promise is he’ll return every phone call within four hours. It’s clear some brand promises are better than others. This week we’ll examine what makes a good one.

A brand is a promise kept. We know that brands are formed when business entities make and keep their brand promises to the market. It’s only by keeping that promise do they earn brand loyalty from the market. The brand is the relationship that forms between the entity and the market as a result of that kept promise.

But all brand promises are not alike. Successful branding strategies will rely on brand promises that have all, or at least most, of the characteristics listed here. A strong brand promise is:


You should be able to own your brand. You need to claim a unique position within the market that serves as an unassailable differentiator between you and your competitors. Your brand promise should be one that no one else can match.


Your market should find it easy to believe your promise. It should be rooted in your background, your experience, and your values. If your brand promise comes from too far afield, the market will suspect you can’t deliver, and you’ll be dismissed as unserious right out of the gate.

Your brand should reflect who you are, but also where you’re going. Stretch your boundaries. Tell the market where you plan to take it.


Stretch your boundaries, yes, but don’t set yourself up for failure. You should be able to deliver on your promise without undue difficulty. You should be able to demonstrate progress toward your ultimate goals.

You can’t be all things to all people. Prioritize your audiences. Target those that you can serve better than anyone else and make your brand promise directly to them.

Every facet of your organization, every word, image, communication, and especially – every deed – should reinforce your brand. Make your brand promise consistently and deliver on it every single opportunity, without fail.

Strong brands can last for many decades, so only make the kinds of promises you know you can keep for years to come.


On top of all of the above, remember to keep your brand promise, as expressed through a positioning statement, simple. You need a positioning statement that is simple enough for the whole market to grasp and retain. It has to be simple enough that employees can keep it in mind and understand how all the tasks they undertake every day, no matter how mundane some of them may appear to be, are vital to keeping the brand promise.

OK. Come up with a brand promise that does all that, express it in a positioning statement, and you’re in business. It will take a little work. But, trust me, it is doable.

Best Branding Reads – Week of October 9, 2017

Ads and brands: to what extent should marketers be revising history?
Authenticity requires truth and reconciliation. Don’t celebrate a brand’s dark past. Don’t ignore it either.

Bowing to the Inevitable, Advertisers Embrace Advocate Role
Driven by their customers, more and more brands are taking positions on controversial issues.

In Brand Positioning Less Is More
Another reason to keep your brand promise simple.

Understanding the Aesthetics of Success
From the author, “Putting the aesthetic first is the key to creating iconic brands that transcend category.” 

Delta Painted Exotic Locales on a Brooklyn Wall for Singles to Snap Selfies Like They’re World Travelers
This effort, from Delta Air Lines is more about advertising than branding. But it’s a brand that did some fun advertising.

New Logo and Identity for Moonpig
Excellent identity for an e-tailer of gifts and greeting cards in the UK. I would totally tote that tote bag.

Startup Brand Checklist
The brilliant Mark Di Somma provides an excellent thought process that every startup should undergo.

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Milan Design Week 2018: The Stand-Out Brand Activations
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Building Brands For The Women Over 50 Market
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Why brands are failing to deliver the intuitive, online experiences that modern women crave
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Brand Authenticity In The Age Of Post-Truth
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New Logo for Swedish energy company, Vattenfall
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MoMA Sues New Café and Gallery “MoMaCha” for Trademark Violation
You’re busted, café owner. Give it up. 

Interview: Asma Shabab Merges Creativity and Tech Every Day at IBM
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