Equating a brand to a promise feels like we’re dangerously close to “Hallmark movie” territory. Rest assured that you won’t be needing a box of tissues to dab your eyes, unless talking about brands and brand identities also gets you a little worked up (hey, we’re passionate about what we do here!).
Back to the topic at hand: brands and promises. A brand is more than just a logo and a clever tagline. It’s also more than the associations consumers have. Your brand is the promise you make to your prospects and customers, and the strength of your brand is built on how consistently you deliver on that promise.
Your brand encompasses the impression you make in the marketplace, your company’s personality — and it infiltrates every part of your business, from your identity and logo, to how you answer phones, to the look and feel of your marketing pieces, and the way your employees dress, serve customers and give presentations.
Still following? Good. Let’s use Starbucks as an example (we’re big fans).
What does Starbucks promise its customers? Delicious caffeinated beverages, yes, but also a place to enjoy said beverage. A cozy, welcoming environment between work and home where you can take a moment just for you. To indulge and relax. Coffee makes up but one part of the equation — environment and ambience are another, as is customer service.
As a brand, Starbucks is incredibly strong because they deliver on what they promise. They make sure their stores have comfortable couches and chairs. They have a rotating selection of new, hip music playing. They make sure their baristas are knowledgeable about coffee. There’s no disconnect between what customers expect and what they actually get and experience.
The story we’re telling could be completely different if Starbucks wasn’t diligent about their brand experience. All the smart advertising campaigns in the world wouldn’t help if their coffee was poor quality and their baristas were rude. Their “place between home and work” positioning wouldn’t resonate if their stores had hard, uncomfortable seating.
The point we’re making is that the Starbucks brand does a great job of delivering on their promise. By having a good experience time and time again with Starbucks products and stores, customers are building positive relationships with the Starbucks brand, which becomes brand equity.
With brand equity comes an emotional connection — the holy grail of marketing in many ways. Customers who are emotionally invested in your brand are more likely to be loyal and more likely to be brand evangelists on your behalf. That’s why it’s important to think of your brand in terms of the whole experience rather than individual pieces. If the brand promise and the brand experience are disconnected in any way — all the advertising in the world can’t save you.
What promise does your brand make and how do you deliver?