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29th January 2016


Brand promises, what do they matter?

Growing up there was a lot I learned from my dad, there’s something that I’ve always tried to uphold – “always do what you say”.

Among other values, that’s one thing that’s really important to us as a business too. I’m not perfect, we’re not perfect but it’s certainly a principle that’s intertwined with the way we do things. With a lot going on in the press such as the VW emissions scandal, it got me thinking. How do brand promises stack up and what happens when they don’t do what they say?

Brand promises

There’s sometimes a gaping chasm between a brand’s promises and what’s actually going on behind closed doors. Ok, that might be a little dramatic but at times there’s trickery and illusion and when a brand gets found out that reeks havoc. Customer trust, brand loyalty, recalls, compensation, lawsuits are some of the costs VW is facing for cheating the system (you’re probably thinking it serves them right). We can all speculate until we’re blue in the face about why they lied on the tests but I’m interested in what the brand has risked by not staying true to their brand promise. And their customers.

It will be very interesting to watch over the coming months how VW handles this mess and whether they let history repeat itself. I might have mentioned above, we’re not all perfect and sometimes slip ups will happen. That’s not an excuse but it’s how you handle it that defines you or a brand. By facing the music and doing so with integrity, it can often be triumphant. Brands and people aren’t all that different you know, we just like to be treated the way we treat others and for people to own up to their mistakes (I’m not sure if that’s the correct saying but hopefully you get my meaning).

So what does that mean?

It’s vital for brands to link customer service, the operations of the business with an understanding of their customers. That’s a sure fire way to build a solid growth strategy.

When we work with brands to articulate the brand promise, we go deeper than the logo or brand values and look at operations, customer journey and identify all the touchpoints that need to deliver on customer expectations. Summing it up, that’s called brand experience and it must be consistent through the entire business process. There’s no horsing around when it comes your supply chain either, you are only as strong as your weakest link. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun).

Brand experience

If you improve your brand experience, it will show up on the bottom line. We dare you to try it. If you’re not sure where to start, ask why are you here? Here are some questions you should ask your team.

  • Why are you here?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What are your principles or values?
  • Who are your customers? What are their expectations?
  • How do you serve those customers?
  • Do your operations deliver on all the above?

Know your customers, know your brand values and deliver on your brand promise. And that’s not a one time event. Customers change, you change or get left out in the cold to turn to rust or dust. For an example of a brand that truly lives and breaths it’s brand promises and values, Patagonia is still an all time favourite brand of mine. It’s a real life success story of how profit is an inevitable result of making true on brand promises.

brand promises