How to Create a Standout Brand Promise: Your Complete Guide

Does your company have a brand promise? If not, you‘re likely missing out on one of the most powerful ways to connect with your target audience and differentiate yourself from competitors.

A brand promise goes beyond a catchy tagline or ad slogan. It‘s a concise statement of the value and experience customers can expect from your company – every time they interact with you. In essence, it‘s a commitment you make to your customers.

Sounds simple enough. But in reality, many organizations struggle to craft brand promises that are unique, meaningful and credible to their core audience. Some common mistakes include:

  • Making vague, generic claims that could apply to any company
  • Over-promising on benefits your product/service can‘t realistically deliver
  • Focusing on features or what you do instead of how you improve customers‘ lives
  • Failing to differentiate from direct competitors
  • Using jargon or wording that doesn‘t resonate with your target buyer

A weak or unclear brand promise can do more harm than good – leading to confusion, mistrust or indifference among your audience.

But when done right, a compelling brand promise offers immense value to your business. Benefits include:

  • Giving customers a reason to choose you over competitors
  • Communicating your unique value proposition
  • Increasing brand awareness, recognition and recall
  • Emotionally connecting with customers to foster loyalty
  • Aligning your team around your mission and values
  • Providing a north star to guide business decisions

In fact, a study by the Corporate Executive Board found that 64% of consumers cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand. And 60% of loyal customers will recommend your company to friends and family.

To help you reap these benefits, we‘ve created the ultimate guide to building a standout brand promise – from research and writing tips to examples from top brands. Follow these steps to create an authentic, inspiring promise you can deliver on every day.

Understanding Brand Promises

First, let‘s clarify what a brand promise actually is and how it differs from other common branding elements:

Element Definition Example
Slogan A short, catchy phrase used in advertising Nike – Just Do It
Tagline A brief statement that communicates a brand‘s position Apple – Think Different
Mission Statement Broad explanation of a company‘s purpose, goals and values Patagonia – Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis
Value Proposition Specific benefits to customers that set a company apart Slack – Be more productive at work with less effort
Brand Promise The commitment a company makes to customers about the experience they can expect Geico – 15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance

As you can see, a brand promise is related to these other elements, but distinct. It takes the most essential points from your mission, value prop and positioning and distills them into a succinct, customer-centric commitment.

Importantly, a brand promise should focus less on what your product does and more on the results and experiences it enables for customers. It needs to answer their key question – what‘s in it for me?

Some other characteristics of effective brand promises:

  • Simple and easy to understand
  • Unique and differentiated from competitors
  • Believable and able to be delivered consistently
  • Linked to your brand‘s purpose and values
  • Emotionally resonant with your target audience
  • Able to stand the test of time

When writing your brand promise, look for the intersection of what your brand is passionate about, what it does best, and what your customers care about most.

How to Write Your Brand Promise

Now that you grasp the fundamentals of brand promises, let‘s walk through how to create one step-by-step.

1. Know Your Audience

Since your brand promise aims to appeal to your target customers, it‘s crucial to start by understanding their needs, goals and preferences. Some ways to gather these insights:

  • Conduct surveys or interviews with current customers
  • Analyze customer feedback from reviews, support tickets, sales calls
  • Study your website and social media analytics to see what content resonates
  • Read industry reports or competitor case studies for broader trends

Look for common themes about what customers value most in your category and where their pain points lie. The better you understand their emotional and rational drivers, the more tailored your brand promise can be.

For example, the brand promise of online shoe retailer Zappos – "Powered by Service" – is based on deep knowledge of their customers‘ priorities and frustrations with typical e-commerce experiences. Shoppers crave personalized attention, fast shipping, hassle-free returns and having questions answered by a human. Zappos built their entire business model around delivering this superior service.

2. Audit Your Customer Experience

A brand promise can energize your marketing, but it ultimately lives or dies in the customer experience. Delivering on your promise earns trust, while falling short quickly erodes your credibility.

That‘s why it‘s important to perform an honest assessment of your end-to-end customer journey. Identify the moments that matter most and what impressions they currently leave with customers.

  • How does the customer experience on your website or app compare to competitors?
  • How responsive and helpful are your sales and support teams?
  • How well does your product/service perform relative to how it‘s marketed?
  • What do customers say about you online and offline?

Pinpoint where the experience is falling short of expectations and prioritize improvements needed to align with your desired brand promise. You may need to address gaps in your offerings, policies, employee training or systems before making bold claims.

3. Brainstorm and Refine

With your customer and company research in hand, you‘re ready to begin shaping your brand promise. I recommend starting with a brainstorm to get all the potential ideas out. Prompts to get you going:

  • How do we want customers to feel when interacting with us?
  • What do we do better than anyone else?
  • What are our non-negotiable values and beliefs?
  • What kind of language do our customers use?
  • How can we say a lot in few words?

Try to come up with at least 10-15 brand promise statements. Don‘t worry about perfecting them – just jot down rough ideas. You can refine them in the next step.

Once you have a list, it‘s time to pressure test and polish your options. I like to score each idea against key criteria like:

  • Is it authentic and credible coming from us?
  • Is it unique to our brand?
  • Is it easily understood by our audience?
  • Does it evoke the right emotional response?
  • Does it guide our business priorities and decisions?

Aim for a promise that scores highly across the board. Keep iterating and tightening the language until you arrive at a winner. Remember – brevity is key. Many of the most powerful brand promises are only a few words.

4. Integrate and Activate

With your brand promise finalized, it‘s time to weave it into every aspect of your business. Some tips:

  • Develop detailed guidelines for how the promise translates to each customer touchpoint
  • Update key messaging in marketing assets like your website, ads and collateral
  • Educate employees on the promise and their role in delivering it; make it a part of onboarding and training
  • Identify metrics to track if you‘re meeting the promise, like NPS or CSAT
  • Regularly collect customer feedback to uncover areas to improve

Living up to your brand promise is an ongoing effort that requires cross-functional collaboration and commitment, starting with leadership.

The brands that get it right reap huge rewards. Starbucks is a prime example. Their promise to "inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time" guides everything from their cozy café ambience to their socially responsible sourcing. By consistently delivering on this feel-good experience, Starbucks commands intense brand loyalty.

Brand Promise Inspiration

Need some real-world examples of brand promises to fuel your brainstorming? Here are a few of my favorites:

  • JetBlue – "Inspire humanity"
  • Workday – "To put people at the center of enterprise software"
  • Crutchfield – "Exceed customers‘ expectations"
  • Skillshare – "Explore your creativity"
  • LinkedIn – "Connect the world‘s professionals to make them more productive and successful"

Notice how these brand promises are concise and jargon-free while still conveying a distinctive experience that leaves an emotional impression.

Bringing it All Together

As you‘ve seen, developing a memorable brand promise takes deep insight, creativity and alignment. But when you strike the right chord, it can be the foundation for lasting customer relationships and business success.

Your brand promise should be a genuine expression of your company‘s values and strengths, not an aspirational statement. Stay true to who you are, just articulate it in a way that connects with customers‘ hearts and minds.

By following the steps we‘ve outlined here – understanding your audience, auditing your CX, nailing the message, and activating it across the company – you‘ll be well on your way to standing apart from competitors and building brand love.

So don‘t let your customers guess what your brand stands for. Tell them in no uncertain terms through a powerful promise – then work hard every day to live up to it. The loyalty and advocacy you‘ll earn in return will be well worth it.