3 Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Brand Promise

clear, relevant, differentiating and compelling brand promisesWhat promises are you making to your customers?

To motivate customers, a brand promise must meet the following three goals:

  • It must convey a compelling benefit
  • It must be authentic & credible
  • The promise must be kept, every time

A brand promise is not a tagline telling customers what they should expect from your business.

Strong brands possess clear, relevant, differentiating and compelling brand promises. Even more importantly, they fulfill these every day.

3 Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Brand PromiseA company’s brand is its promise. And successful brands consistently deliver on their promises, which is how they create brand value.

The questions a company must ask to create a brand promise sound short and sweet, but effectively answering them requires intense and lengthy discussion about what the company means on the deepest level: how it does what it does, what the feel of working with the company is, and what kind of character the company has.

The goal is to develop a brand promise that is:

  • Clear
  • Relevant
  • Differentiating
  • Compelling

Equally important, is that a brand promise ensures that employees, channel partners and consumers can all answer the deceptively simple question of “Why Our Brand?” In fact, it will also allow your team to create marketing communications that inspire and motivate and enable consistent brand messaging throughout all our brand’s customer & partner touch points.

Ultimately, you need to describe how the brand delivers on its promise. A promise, however, is good only if it’s kept. If a company doesn’t deliver on its promise the majority of the time, its reputation—and sales—will likely decline.

The brand vision is the road map to a strong brand

The brand vision is the roadmap to a strong brandCore to the brand promise is the brand vision.  The brand vision is a plan that aligns all customer/shopper based initiatives to make more effective decisions across all business functions. Its purpose is to drive revenue and profits through the development of a strong, differentiated brand.

The brand vision…

  • Defines the company purpose
  • Provides metrics to measure business decisions
  • Identifies who the target audience is
  • Provides framework for new product development
  • Focuses messaging and the voice/tone to communicate with
  • Establishes an architecture for the brand
  • Identifies appropriate channels of trade

Although it seems intuitive, strong brands make for strong businesses

Strong brand are products and services in which consumers believe there are no substitutes.

strong brands make for strong businessesStrong brands…

  • Command premium prices
  • Create barriers to competition
  • Are not commodities
  • Inspire confidence and trust
  • Are products and services consumers connect emotionally with

A brand vision brings together 5 key elements

A brand vision brings together 5 key elementsThe five elements of a brand vision are:

  • Purpose − A single statement that embodies the company’s mission and desired perceptions.
  • Positioning − The benefit we deliver to the marketplace.
  • Character − How we want to be perceived.
  • Personality − The attributes that define the brand.
  • Brand Strategy − The masterbrand architecture that defines the relationship
    of your brand to other sub-brands, product brands and services.

Where it all comes together is the brand guide

brand-touchpointsThe brand guide is an interactive document that provides standards for brand management. It is a visual identity system that many refer to as brand guidelines.

These guidelines are the design standards for managing the brand, complete with examples of do’s and don’ts of how to use the library of logos, imagery and typography that creates the brands look, tone and feel.  It covers everything from letterhead and signage to packaging, advertising and web design standards. In short, all the places that the brand can come to life.

What does success look like?

Brand Promise Creates RelevanceThe questions involved in developing a brand promise look easier on paper than it is in reality Brand promise development is hard work that generally takes multiple brainstorming sessions, lots of competitive and market research, and extensive investigation into the true nature of the company. It’s exhausting work.

And yet, as with most things that are difficult, it’s invaluable. Companies that have clearly defined brand promises and values and attributes have strong frameworks for decision-making, and using these frameworks helps develop the brand’s strength and worth to the organization.

And the prize at the end?

  • A simple, differentiated brand essence and position that you can own.
  • Clear articulation for consumers, customers and employees of “Why Our Brand” above our competition – no matter who they are!
  • Brand identity that breaks through the clutter, is difficult for our competition to copy or has proprietary elements.
  • Can be translated to product, packaging, merchandising, advertising, web, and national promotions – a whole cadre of marketing and communications vehicles.
  • Articulation of essence, promise and identity into messaging and graphics that make consumers want to take action to buy our products NOW.
  • Creates value for retailers because consumers are coming to their brick & mortar or online establishment to look for you exclusively.
  • Capitalizes on employees’ pride to work for you making superior products and providing top-notch customer service and support.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

Are You Driving Engagement?

Spark and drive conversation and recommendationHow people talk about and recommend your brand is the single most powerful reason for whether they buy you or your competitor.

But what happens if your category or brand has low visibility, interest or conversation?  You can still tap into and harness the interest and attention of a core group of influencers that are plugged in, motivated and savvy…to drive brand awareness, relevance and sales.

Identifying needs and driving consideration with Social Media

Conversation-RelationshipsYou need to build relationships with top influencers in your category and give them clear reasons to recommend your brand.  That will help create brand awareness and sharing that will ultimately drive traffic into stores.  To tackle this goal of building these key relationships, use this three-step approach:

            • Make the connection
            • Position your brand
            • De-position competitors

When you make the connection, you are creating a deliberate link to your brand to the specific conversations happening in and around your category.  More importantly, you are bringing your brand to life in these conversations, sharing the unique benefits of owning your brand among key influencers and within key market groups.

Do do this best, you need to:

  • Listen to the conversation happening around your brand before engaging.
  • Through either subscription-based tools or through publicly available free tools, develop a daily monitoring routine to identify opportunities, influencers, and key trends.
  • Define and own a brand vision to leverage in an overall communications strategy (see my earlier post: Do You Need a Brand Road Map?).
  • Align your brand with the issues and topics related your category and brand.
  • Provide resources and information to specialty groups – building contractors, designers, architects, realtors, etc.

Creating a deliberate link between your brand promise and product ownership

Position your brand for success

In the second step, position your brand, you are fortifying your position as best in marketplace while de-positioning your competitors.  Here your goal is to create a deliberate link between your brand promise and product ownership.  For this you need to focus on:

  • Clearly establishing the need for your brand – why it’s important in the conversation.
  • Become the go-to resource for information which will create opportunities for your brand to share and recommend.
  • Create broad awareness about your brand vision and how your brand delivers against the promise.
  • Educate key influencers, called eminents, across special interest categories.
  • Give your audiences reasons to consider your brand by engaging bloggers and media across special interest areas.  Proactively building relationships with key offline and online influencers is critical to fortifying your market position.

This step puts you on the path to becoming the leading expert and resource for helping consumers think about your category and brand in the right way.  It also provides the reasons and opportunities to put your brand into conversations where consumers are sharing their experiences and recommending you to others.

Provide reasons for consumers to engage with you in the places they already are

Become the leading expert, resource, authority and trusted partner in the space around your brandYou want to create “reasons to buy” in consumer circles where the benefits of brand ownership are clear, relevant and meaningful.  One of the best ways to do that is to reach consumers during and around the events and interests they care about.  Your secret is to create conversations around the topics and social channels related to the need for your brand.  If you are just starting out in social media, see tips from my post: Are You Following These 8 Basic Steps for Online Success?

The goal is simple: become the leading expert, resource, authority and trusted partner in the space around your brand.  You do this by creating top-of-mind awareness about the importance of your brand, both online and offline by:

  • Providing purchase influencers with sharable resources (sell sheets, photos, videos, testimonials, checklists, research, samples, etc.) to pass along to audiences.
  • Provide bloggers with content to pass along to audiences to spark and facilitate discussion and recommendation.
  • Monitor online conversations for opportunities to proactively insert your voice.

Take steps to make sure your brand is considered the leading authority

Social Media IconsFacebook allows a direct channel into the day-to-day lives of consumers.  This becomes the first step toward building an online presence that complements and integrates with activities across all channels – including blogs, forums, Twitter, LinkedIn, and beyond.  Facebook becomes the anchor that helps tie together your brand’s benefits – through stories, interaction, contests, and rich media.

Your website and your Facebook page should be tied very closely together. Facebook gives you interested consumers to leverage for events, promos and new product launches.  All this leads to more visitors to your site, invested in your brand, and looking for content.  All those visitors will eventually be lead to a retailer where they will become consumers!

For a great example of how Heinz used a dedicated website to create powerful content and relevance with food service professionals, take a look at this story from ABC News: How Heinz Website Energized Food Pros.

Create competitive barriers by de-positioning competitors

Competitive AdvantageIf you don’t define your space in social media well, then the competition has the capability (and goal) of taking your expert position away from you.  That will leave you with the crumbs they leave you with.  You cannot allow the competition to steal your position within your industry or with your consumers!

To do that, you need to prove expertise and leadership by winning the trust of consumers before competitors do.  Create competitive barriers by:

  • Proactively building relationships with key offline and online influencers to fortify your position.
  • Ensuring all points of engagement are compelling, relevant, “sticky” and focused on your brand’s promise.
  • Monitoring conversation for inaccuracies, competitive threats and ensuring eminents understand your value proposition before they hear from competitors.  Reinforce this through frequent engagement.

If you create a steady drumbeat of focused, relevant and compelling dialogue and conversation, you will be successful at sparking and driving opportunities for consumers to engage with your brand and build lasting relationships.

Graphic credit: INSIGHTOVATION.COM

Do You Need a Brand Road Map?

brandDo you have a plan that aligns your customer and shopper based initiatives? It will help you make more effective decisions across all business functions.

Here’s how.

The goal of a brand vision is to drive sales and profits by building a strong, differentiated brand – yours.

A brand vision will…

  • Define your company’s purpose clearly for both internal and external audiences
  • Provide metrics to measure business decisions
  • Identify clearly who the target audience is
  • Provide a framework for new product development
  • Focus you messaging and the voice/tone to communicate with
  • Establish an architecture for the brand
  • Identify key channels of trade

A brand vision builds strong, profitable brands

This clarity and focus is what will help you build a strong brand  What is a strong brand?

Strong brands are products and services in which consumers believe there are no substitutes.

Strong brands:

  • Command premium prices
  • Create barriers to competition
  • Are not commodities
  • Inspire confidence and trust
  • Are products and services consumers connect emotionally with

But most importantly, strong brands help make the sales team’s job easier with sell in and the retailer’s job easier with sell through. In other words, everybody wins.

Brand visions are a road map to success

Your brand vision is going to set the tone and direction for the brand. It’s where you ultimately want the brand to stand for. As a result, the vision is a collection of six key components:

  • Purpose
  • Positioning
  • Character
  • Personality
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand guidelines

Purpose. Your purpose is a single statement that embodies the company’s mission and desired perceptions.

Positioning. These are the benefits we deliver to the marketplace.

Character. How we want our brand to be perceived.

Personality. These are the attributes that define the brand.

Brand strategy. This is the masterbrand architecture that defines the relationship of your brand to other sub-brands, product brands and services.

Brand guidelines. This is a comprehensive document that provides standards for brand management. Like the brand vision, this reflects your strategic brand goals, contains shopper and category marketing best practices and establishes a communications framework, identifying both required and flexible components.

Elements to include are:

  • Visual Identity System
  • Design standards for the brand
  • Masterbrand components
  • Compliant examples (do’s and don’ts)
  • Library of logos
  • Templates and brand toolkit
  • Web design standards
  • Packaging Strategy

Building a Brand Positioning Framework

Think of the framework as a four level pyramid. All levels should be supported by research, not guesswork.

  • 1st level (or the pyramid’s base) focuses on your brand’s attributes. These are tangible and can be seen or touched.
  • 2nd level is your brand’s functional benefits.  Once again, these are tangible and are  demonstrable benefits that ladder up from attributes.

Next two levels of pyramid are the emotional drivers for your brand.

  • 3rd level identifies your brand’s emotional end benefits. This is the “feeling” that comes from your brand, the voice through which your brand touches the consumer.
  • 4th level (or the pyramid’s capstone) identifies the bigger idea and tells what your brand “signs up for” in the lives of your core consumers.

Sum it all up with a single sentence that reflects this thinking: “Brand X is…” (the line that summarizes your brand essence).

A brand vision will lead you to insights that touch all of your marketing

No brand vision is complete without being able to clearly define your core consumer and key market segments.

Once you know more about your consumer you can begin talking to them in their terms, understanding their emotional connection to your brand and the path to purchase they follow.

Think about how this now informs your brand vision and your corporate strategies by providing:

  • End-user definition
  • Distribution programs
  • New product development insights
  • Communication vehicles
  • Messaging
  • Shopper-based best practices

Now your focus is on the consumer and what they want. The brand vision will lead you to insights that touches all of your marketing. Not only will it differentiate your brand from the competition, but it will create a strong brand that consumers will want and be willing to pay for.

Good Selling!

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