What Is Your Revenue-Driving Brand Promise?

June 1, 2016

Define Your Brand Promise

Is the promise of your brand bringing customers to you? Does it highlight your uniqueness?         

Your brand promise is a key part of company strategy that drives revenue. It is the key factor that sets you apart from all your competitors and it is what brings customers to you. It must be both competitive and measurable. It’s great to create a wonderful slogan or message, but if your operation can’t deliver on it, you gain absolutely no differentiation in the marketplace.

To create your brand promise, first recognize the “hair on fire” issue of your core customer. Define your core customer, not just with some basic demographic data (average age, gender, etc.), but understanding their wants, needs and fears. Your core customer will make purchases of your product or service at the optimal price point that generates profit – why? Because they assign real economic value to what you have to offer and buying at your price is a positive action for them.

Now, look at determining your #1 brand promise. For Southwest, it is low fares; for McDonalds, it is speed; for Rackspace, it is finding a solution in one hour or less. Your #1 brand promise should address what you feel is the greatest need your customer has that you can solve in a different, uncommon or unique way than your competition. Two supporting promises that support your major brand promise should be developed to address additional needs your customers have.

Do not use industry buzz words when writing your brand promise! When someone tries to sell us something, we tune out as soon as we hear standard buzz words. If you don’t believe me, let’s put it in perspective of something you are probably familiar with: dating. What if I used these words the first time I asked out the woman I eventually married: “Hey [Name], if you go out with me on Saturday night, I want you to know that I follow best practices when it comes to dating”. Or, “Hey [Name], if you go out with me on Saturday night, I want you to know that I deliver a fast return on investment and I care.” To my female readers, I have a question: Do I get the girl? As my wife would say, the answer is: “NO, heck no!” So, why do we talk to our prospects this way?

Determine how you will measure whether or not you are living up to your brand promise. What’s the point of promising your customers you will deliver a differentiating outcome if you aren’t measuring your consistency of providing it?

Rackspace.com manages cloud solutions for their clients, and when a client’s system goes down, it’s never a good thing. So, their first brand promise when starting out was to provide fanatical tech support to their clients -- they promised to get hardware fixed or replaced in an hour. By realizing that customers also hated waiting on hold, they promised to answer the phone in 3 rings or less with a real person, not a computer. In addition, a customer would get their question answered within one phone transfer. What was usually a stressful, agonizing experience was made quick and painless because of Rackspace’s brand promise. The business impact of this brand promise took the company to approximately $100m in about 10 years. That’s the power of figuring out what your customer really needs -- and lowest price isn’t always the deciding factor. Once you figure this out, you’re one step closer to finding your brand promise.

Test It Out & Set the Bar

The key to knowing that you’ve got a great brand promise is that you say “no” more than you say “yes.” When you’re a growing company, it’s easy to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way. In doing so, you will kill what you’re trying to create.

Once you know that your brand promise is bringing customers to you, that it highlights your uniqueness and that you are hitting your measurement targets, the next question to ask is, “Do you want to make it hurt if you break your promise?” This is known as a Catalytic Mechanism (from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins).

A powerful Catalytic Mechanism story comes from a company called Graniterock, which provides materials to the construction industry – things like crushed gravel, concrete, sand and asphalt. Almost everything they sell is a commodity. They aim to provide total customer satisfaction that meets or exceeds that of Nordstrom’s, the retail giant known for exceptional customer service. The question that Graniterock needed to wrestle with was how to measure and enforce this. They needed a key differentiator. They decided to develop a policy called “Short Pay” which works as follows: at the bottom of every invoice they send out, there is this statement: “If you are not completely satisfied for any reason with any part of this invoice, do not pay us for it. Simply scratch out the line item, write a brief note about the problem, and return a copy of this invoice along with your check for the balance.” 

This policy has given them a competitive advantage that has allowed them to grow and to charge a 6% premium over the rest of the industry. Employees are motivated not to create a Short Pay situation, and the company monitors Short Pay situations/levels closely.

If you have figured out all of the above, is your Brand Promise bringing customers to you? If not, what changes do you need to make?