So you own your own business. You’ve been in operation long enough to feel comfortable calling yourself a “business owner.” You have repeat customers that call you when they’re looking for an idea. This is all very good news. It’s also an excellent time to take a moment to reflect on your path to this point and consider the direction in which you may now head. Consider these repeat clients. Has there been a specific reason they continue to reach out to you when a need arises? Has there been something consistent that you hear from more than one of the people that pay you for what you do? Has there been something that you have specifically tried to pay attention to doing well as part of having your customers do business with your company?
Look at it from your customer's position. If we were to interview them, I suspect that we would find some commonalities around why they choose to do business with you. As it relates to branding, those commonalities would be considered your “Brand Promise:” the responses created in those people doing business with you while they are doing business with you. Your ability to understand and capitalize on your brand promise often defines your ability to achieve continued success.
As an organization grows and matures, brand promises become even more important, as they serve as the foundation for which both your prospects and your employees will be drawn to you. For instance, consider a brand that has made it apparent it would like to be seen as the “environmentally friendly” choice. Consider how individuals seeking to do business with like-minded folks would be able to identify with this brand promise. Would a global warming non-believer be a good fit for a job with a company with that type of brand promise?
Defining your brand promise provides you clarity in decision-making and frees you to be creative with new and innovative ways to deliver on your stated objective. Consider how your employees might react if they were given the opportunity to come up with new ideas about being environmentally friendly. How can salespeople work on ideas around cause marketing? What can the accounting department do to be seen as “easy to do business with?” Once you know what your brand is supposed to do for people, it’s way more fun to think up great ways for the brand to deliver on those promises.
Once you have a sense of the brand promise concept, it’s important that you communicate your sense of the promise to everyone that comes into contact with you. Think of the number of people in our industry that are involved in a single order of yours, and the role each of them plays in ensuring your ability to deliver on your promise. Would it not make perfect sense that each person should have a crystal clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish, and how what they do has a critical role in making sure those promises come true? At the very least, it will give your partners an understanding of your expectation of them and the reasoning behind your expectations.
Our tagline at work is “Be Remarkable.” Simple yet direct and to the point. Open for interpretation, but the adjective is pretty difficult to equate with something negative in most instances. In it’s simplicity, it gives every employee the leeway to determine their “remarkable,” and ours is a culture that focuses on ways for those doing business with us to see us as such.
Lastly, and most importantly, it’s extraordinarily important for the keepers of the brand promise to understand their responsibility. It is they, not you, that will most effectively and frequently communicate their version of the brand promise to your customers, every day. Without a clear understanding of their role and how it reinforces the brand promise, employees may unintentionally create a confusing environment for customers and dilute the value of your brand. "Promise Keepers," as we call them, are the most important link in the brand promise, and only with a clear understanding can you ensure their—and your—success.