By Dr. Donald N. Sweet
We believe your brand promise is at the core of your strategy. We define brand promise as our business commitment to the marketplace. We promise that every client, every customer can expect the same specific high level of service or product from us. In doing so, a brand promise:
• Brings clarity and focus both internally and externally
• Defines our uncommon offering
• Demands we know our core customer well
• Require metrics to measure delivery of our promise
Bob Bloom in his book, The Inside Advantage, talks about identifying what he calls your “uncommon offering”. It’s what our business uniquely offers the marketplace and separates us from competitors. Our uncommon offering is important to our core customer and brings them unique value.
Bloom then suggests that we identify our core customer in great specificity. Bloom suggests using both demographic and psychographic descriptors when we identify our best (core) customers. He points out there may be several. Bloom takes it a bit further in that he suggests giving each one a name to further emphasize their characteristics.
When we better identify our core customers we are freed up to focus specifically on them. Our business, and therefore our brand promise, also:
• Provides focus on the core customer(s)
• Brings targeted messaging to attract more (core) customers
• Helps free up resources from non-core customers for redeployment
It is just as important that a business know which set of potential customers will never be core customers. They won’t pay for value. They are hard to work with. They take more resources than they are worth. A focused brand promise with a well identified core set of customers allows us to profitably redeploy resources.
We suggest a lead promise and two supporting promises. Southwest Airlines (before they started charging for bags) brand promise was, Lower Fares, More Flights, More Fun. Low fares are the lead promise supported by the other two. Just as importantly two of those promises could be measured, low fares and more flights.
We believe that the best brand promises can be measured. We need to be able to objectively determine if we are meeting our promises or not. Measurement is key.
Our brand promise also informs how we organize our business to best deliver our uncommon value. To ensure that we are meeting our promises we need to have an organization that:
• Is committed and understands their roles to effectively deliver on promises
• Frequently measures results and is quick to take corrective action as needed
• Has the right people on the bus, as Jim Collins would say
Finally our brand promises must be constructed with an eye toward execution. We must be able to meet our promises to the marketplace. We should always build in the execution steps when developing any type of plan or program. Making promises we are unable to keep is silly and often leads to commercial suicide.
When you consider all the aspects of constructing a solid brand promise you can see why we believe it is central to any company’s strategy. At its very core, strategy is about delivering value to the core customer while being different from the competition.