• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Winning with brand promise

Dangote, GTBank, DSTV, others emerge most admired brands in Nigeria

I always wonder why a symbol like the Nike’s swoosh or the Bic’s man with a pen logo could be so much more valuable than the graphic itself. How can the simple presence of a symbol affect our actions?
The reason brands affect our behaviour is not their logo; it’s what their logo promises. If we see a swoosh on a pair of shorts, then they are more likely to be of high quality and make you feel like an athlete. If you see the KFC logo on a building, then you know there is rich, well-made chicken in there and a pleasant environment to sit it in. It’s a complete abstraction in our minds. A logo is just a graphic unless and until there is a meaningful promise behind it: a brand promise.

A brand promise is one or two sentences, which internally communicates what the customer expects from all products and services under a brand. It aligns people’s efforts and keeps the company from developing something that is out of scope for the brand.

A company needs a brand promise to communicate customer expectations to all people in the organization so that the organization creates consistent experiences for customers. Left to chance, people within an organisation can do wildly different things with the brand. Brands would not mean anything is one person in one division is selling magazines under a brand while another is selling yogurt under the same brand.

What is a Brand Promise?
A brand promise is a line that defines the scope of a brand in terms of product category, quality, price level, and values. A brand and a promise go hand in hand; you do not have a brand unless that brand promises a type of product and a level of service that customers can expect.

David Aaker in his book, Aaker on Branding, says “far more than a name and logo, a brand is an organisation’s promise to a customer to deliver what the brand stands for, not only in terms of functional benefits but also emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits.”

Read also: Understanding brand mindset and how it works

Customers are going to come to expect a particular product, quality, and price from a brand, and they are going to be disappointed if they do not get what they expect. A brand promise statement is simply the customer expectation codified in a one- or two-line sentence. For new brands, the brand promise is the expectation they would like to create in a future customer’s minds. For established brands, this is a statement of fact about what the customer is expecting.
The brand promise should place the product within the scales of category, quality, and price level, as well as organizational values if applicable.

The brand promise usually lives within an organisation’s documentation, such as a brand book. An organisation should communicate the brand promise to anyone who will be doing work to further the brand; this includes all employees, as well as external partners such as freelancers, service providers, and retailers.

Why Is a Brand Promise Important?
A brand promise statement is vital to have so your brand can become known for something over time. If a company has a brand promise statement, then everyone within the organisation can agree on what the brand represents, and can align their efforts to build the brand. With the brand promise defined, leaders and employees can look for opportunities to further the brand’s reputation and execute them quickly.

The brand promise exists in the customer’s mind whether leaders at a company define it or not. Most businesses operate without defining the brand promise and run the risk of disappointing the customer because the customers, staff, and executives have a different idea of what is to be expected from the brand. New brands can fail to grow, and established brands can get diluted lowering their value.

Successful brands are very clear about what they plan to do for each and every customer. They write a brand promise statement. This statement becomes the standard that the staff seeks to deliver, and customers come to expect.
Brands are not built by exceeding expectations, surprisingly enough. They are formed by clearly setting a brand promise, and meeting it for the customer 99.9% of the time. Think of the biggest brands. Are they the best products in the world? Not necessarily, but they are very consistent in the service they deliver. A Heinz’ ketchup always tastes the same, on six continents, twenty-four hours a day. If the brand promise cannot be met, then the product or service should not be marketed under the brand as-is.

Many companies have great ideas for products and services that are outside their brand’s scope, and get into trouble when they develop and offer them under their current brand. Innovators offer the new product or service to customers, and they are left confused because it is incongruent with their understanding of the brand.
Pursuing innovation is excellent, but you have to ask the question: “is this a great idea for our brand?” If not, you may still want to pursue the idea, but under a sub-brand or another brand entirely.

Last line
You need to think about what you would like your brand to promise to people. Whether you take the time to define and communicate your brand promise statement to your team, you have to acknowledge that your brand carries a promise in the minds of its customers. The more people trust in the brand promise, the more valuable the brand is. So, your brand will grow in value and utility if you can make sure your company understands the expectations of customers, and meets them every time.