Do Your Customers Know Your Brand Promise? Would They Say You Keep It?

What is your brand promise?

If you asked your customers that question, would they know the answer?  And if they do, would they also be able to say that you deliver on that brand promise?

There are some companies that are so good at what they do, that with just a sentence or a few words the typical customer would be able to recognize them immediately.  Can you identify these companies by their brand promises?

The helpful hardware store

The online bookstore that now offers so much more

The technology company with stores that offer innovative products and genius support

Branding has always been important in business, but with the growth of social media and demands on customers’ time, it’s even more important to simplify your brand promise into something that will attract the customer’s attention.  And then, you must deliver on that promise the first time and every time to draw customers in and keep them coming back.

Pizza Hut recently placed an advertisement to interview candidates for the position of social media manager.  The catch was that the candidates had to sell themselves in an interview that lasted 140 seconds.  That may not seem like a long time, but in the digital age of social media, short, concise and meaningful messages are important.  So Pizza Hut took a page from the Twitter playbook, which allows messages up to 140 characters, and came up with the idea that potential social media managers should be able to sell themselves in less than 140 seconds.  Brilliant!

Whether you are a candidate for a job or a company trying to attract customers, there are several words that you need to focus on as you convey your vision (or brand promise): concise, brief, recognizable.

Twitter allows no more than 140 characters to communicate a message, forcing us to be direct and to the point. Can you create a vision or mission statement shorter than 140 characters?  What about your brand promise or customer service commitment?

Your goal is to be so recognizable for what you do that your customer could – as in the examples given above – name your company when it is described by a brief phrase or statement.

This concept reminds me of a TV show I used to watch when I was a kid, Name that Tune.  With a subtle hint, the game show host would ask the contestants how many notes they needed to identify a song.  The dialogue went something like this:

Contestant 1: “I can name that tune in 12 notes.”

Contestant 2: “I can name that tune in 11 notes.”

And so on, until one contestant would challenge the other to “Name that tune!”

How many words would you have to use to describe your business so that your customers – and potential customers – could identify it?  It shouldn’t take more than a phrase or a simple sentence.  If it’s more, I have some homework for you – Create your brand promise (or vision or mission statement). Make it short, concise, easy to memorize and be reflective of what your company is about.

Once you have put your brand promise into words, the way to make customers remember and recognize your vision is to deliver on the promise.  You want to become known for your special brand of business and customer service and for keeping the promise that you make to the customer.

Ultimately, the customer will be able to not only identify your company by a concise statement of your brand promise, but also begin to feel a special bond that forms when promises are made and kept.

This is a bond that goes beyond loyalty – especially the loyalty bought by customer loyalty programs that are based on rewards, points or discounts.  It is a true connection based on keeping promises and building relationships that gives customers something more – a feeling of ownership.

When we refer to our customers as owning our brand, we’re actually referring to them as owning our brand promise.  Taking that to the next level is when we can get customers to feel ownership in our business.

This is not ownership in the typical sense, where a customer has a stake in the company.  This is emotional ownership, a bond that makes them feel part of the business.  They feel like more than just a customer, an account or a number.  This is my concept of customer partnership, which is loyalty on steroids.

True customer loyalty doesn’t come from a program.  It comes from an emotional tie between the customer and the business  Customer loyalty becomes reality when the customer refers to the place he or she does business as:

“My grocery store…”

“My pharmacy…”

“My coffee shop…”

You get the idea.  And, the “ownership” the customer has to their favorite stores usually comes from how the employees make them feel.  The customer is recognized, often by name.  There are at least one or two employees that have built some rapport and bonded with the customer.  The concept is that people don’t do business with a business.  They are doing business with the people in the business.

This kind of loyalty isn’t built by a brand promise that is only focused on the product.  You must promise – and deliver – a quality product at a fair price with a positive customer service experience that includes building a rapport with the customer.  This is the winning combination where a business meets its customer’s needs and at the same time creates some type of human connection that endears the customer to their business.

As a business, we try to get our customers to perceive us a certain way. In the end, the customer determines if we have succeeded.  What promises are we making to our customers?  Does what we sell meet all of our customers’ requirements?  Does the customer service and experience meet and exceed their expectations?  Is their perception of their experience in line with what we want it to be?  If so, we have congruency between what we want our customers to think of us, which is our brand promise, and what they actually do think of us.

So once you have established and implemented your brand promise, ask questions to make sure you have achieved “Customer Congruency,” defined as: When what we promise and what the customer receives are thought to be the same.

If your customers’ perceptions are in line with your brand promise, you have taken a major step toward meeting and exceeding their expectations and earning their loyalty – and ultimately their ownership of your brand promise.