What is a Brand Promise?

Often misconstrued as just another ingredient in brand soup, the promise is arguably one of the most important elements of a grounded organization.Your brand promise is the reason you exist as a company. It goes beyond providing a product or service and gets to the heart of your business.

Your brand promise is your raison d’être, your “why.”

How is a brand promise different from a mission or vision?

A brand promise encapsulates mission, vision and values to articulate the higher purpose of your organization. Here’s a quick explanation of each element:

  • Mission outlines a company's business, objectives and approach to reach its goals.
  • Vision describes a desired future position in the marketplace.
  • Values or principles lay out what a company believes and guide how it operates.
  • Brand promise defines a company’s higher purpose.

Mission and vision statements are often found on websites and other public materials, but a brand promise should only be used internally at first. (Some organizations will publish a brand promise after it has been fully integrated, accepted and operationalized in all parts of the organization, but that is usually a long way down the road.)Even though customers or clients won’t typically see your brand promise, they should feel it when you interact with them. You can also reflect the essence of your promise in external messages without publishing the full promise statement.Brand promises also have no direct reference to specific products or services, while vision and mission statements usually do.

What do you do with a brand promise?

Developing a brand promise is just the first step. You also need a plan that lays out how you’ll educate employees, build belief and regularly reinforce your promise. It’s an intensive, multi-year effort that will involve all areas of your organization including communications, HR and operations.The fundamental layer beneath all of those activities is buy-in and ongoing participation from leaders. If decisions and actions at the top don’t align with your promise, employees will sense the discrepancy and discredit the entire effort. Showing employees that leaders believe and are living your promise is critical to long-term success.A brand promise isn’t something you launch, put on a poster, talk about for a week and then forget. You have to intentionally teach, communicate and live it every day until it becomes part of the fabric of your organization.

Need help developing or implementing your brand promise? We’d love to lend a hand.