A brand promise is the ‘why’ of the business. It makes it clear on why an organisation exists, what they do and who they do it for. It is often called a business purpose.

Have you ever noticed how some organisations are really clear on why they exist, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it for? When we’ve analysed these businesses, what we’ve found is they have a single, clear promise to the market that governs everything they do. We call this a ‘brand promise’ or business purpose.

A brand promise is a business’ overall promise to its customers, its staff, and also the broader market. It includes the ‘why’ of the business, the reason it exists. It is a statement that governs the products and services that are developed and promoted, who the business works with (clients, suppliers, staff and contractors), and what community initiatives it will then sponsor.

An example of a brand promise that we can see, hear and feel the impact of everyday is Google. Google promises to be the world’s number one source of information. They know that to be this – to fulfill this promise – then when someone searches using their search engine, they must find the most relevant, up-to-date and credible links to that information on the first page of the search results. Everything Google then does is to ensure that searches return information with these attributes. They are constantly reviewing what makes information the more relevant, up-to-date and credible, and changing their search algorithms to increase the likelihood that the first page of every search meets their brand promise.

For many businesses, developing a brand promise is a revelation. The insights they gain from working through what their business is really about can inspire new ideas, as well as clarify why some things just haven’t been working. We broadly following four steps to help an organisation develop their brand promise:

  • We start by reviewing your products and services – what are you providing your customers? We start here, because most businesses start with an idea, and so thinking about ‘what’ you’re doing is often easier than thinking about ‘who’ or ‘what for’.
  • We then review what customers might use your product and services for. What task are they trying to achieve in using your products and services?
  • Then we review who wants to achieve this task and why. How regularly do they need to achieve it? What is the outcome for them once they’ve achieved it?
  • We can then start to workshop what the bigger promise of the business really is. This will include who the business really wants to serve – which may be different to who they have been serving in the past.

A brand promise is most useful when it is tangible – it is something people can understand. It is not necessarily used as a tagline for the business – but it can be in some instances. But once it’s done, it then sets the values for the organisation, defines what’s in and what’s out, and binds everyone that then comes into contact with the business.

The most important thing once an organisation has a brand promise is to stick to it. If the market sees, hears or feels the business doing something that is contrary to its promise, then hard earned trust can be lost. And what’s the point of that?

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