A recent issue of Fast Company Magazine featured the article “25 Brands that Matter Now.” No surprises here, the list features the brands we most expect … Google, Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Netflix, plus 20 more celebrated brands that are often cited for best practices in branding.
The brands selected as the “25 Brands that Matter Now” met specific criteria. The brands:
- are recognizable
- deliver a quality product
- make a positive difference in the world
- push their industries forward
I would add that each of those winning brands has one more attribute — a clearly stated Brand Promise that needs to be consistently delivered on in a way that meets or exceeds customer expectations.
Delivering on a Brand Promise is an aspiration all organizations should have. Achieving this starts with brand basics — defining the promise that best fits your organization and brand, and will make it matter. We use a four-step process to guide clients through the exercise of creating a Brand Promise.
Step 1. Create and refine your Brand Promise against defined targets
Remember that brands are remembered for their clarity, simplicity and impact. If yours is like most companies, it likely has more than one customer set. Defining your Brand Promise means deciding which customers are most important and making a promise that is powerful and relevant to these customers.
Step 2. Drive understanding of the Brand Promise across the entire organization
The importance of your employees as Brand Ambassadors cannot be overstated. More than any other element or facet of the organization, your people deliver and represent the brand. And along with every other aspect of their jobs, they should know they need to understand the brand and to deliver on the Brand Promise at every opportunity. For companies with strong brands, this is a source of pride for employees, rather than an “added” responsibility. All that said, you need to drive an understanding of the brand and its promise across all divisions, departments and locations. Remember, the Brand Promise spans every customer touchpoint — communications, sales, product, purchase, service, etc., so communicate and reinforce it with employees in every speech, meeting and discussion.
Step 3. Keep the Brand Promise top of mind
As evidenced by our illustrious list of brands that matter, a clear Brand Promise must serve as the foundation for making business decisions and allocating resources. Although this philosophy can often come under fire when budgets are tied and departments are competing for resources, this should be remain top-of-mind as decisions are made. It is critical that all external messaging should communicate the Brand Promise and connect with customers on an emotional level. And finally, your organization must deliver on your Brand Promise with an unforgettable customer experience.
Step 4. Measure the effectiveness and resonance of your Brand Promise
The only way to know the effectiveness of your Brand Promise is through consistent evaluation and measurement. Brand evaluation efforts reveal brand strengths and opportunity areas, and provide the roadmap for brand decisions and process improvement. The four key areas for measurement include:
- Employee understanding – do employees understand the Brand Promise and deliver it consistently?
- Brand compliance – do your communications support the Brand Promise?
- Brand equity tracking – are customer perceptions aligned with the Brand Promise?
- Competitive knowledge – how do customer perceptions of the brand compare to those of competitors?
Today, customers have many choices of innovative solutions and brand options to both meet their needs and surpass their expectations. In a crowded category, only the companies that consistently deliver a unique Brand Promise are likely to keep their customers and become a brand that matters now. So even if your goal isn’t to be the next brand like Instagram, Spotify or Buzzfeed, all on the list, you can and should define your Brand Promise and ensure your brand matters.