Few things in business are quite as powerful as a strong brand promise.

Whether you’re looking to create a brand promise for your business or just want to learn more about this essential strategic asset, this post is for you.

As we’ll see, defining—and delivering on—a strong brand promise is the foundation of customer trust.

And customer trust leads to the type of brand loyalty that drives business performance.

In what follows, we’ll take a look at a brand promise definition, go over more than 20 brand promise examples in the world’s most successful brands, and show you how to define a strong brand promise for your own business.

CONTENTS

What is a Brand Promise?

A brand promise is the value or experience a brand pledges to deliver to customers every time they engage with the brand. The more often your brand delivers on its promise, the more valuable it becomes in the minds of its customers.

One of the cornerstones of brand strategy, a brand promise is also sometimes known as a customer promise, company promise, business promise, or service promise.

At the end of the day, your brand promise is a solemn pledge your brand makes to those it serves. For this reason, the most important part of your brand promise is that it’s kept.

Making good on your promise is the foundation of customer trust and, ultimately, brand loyalty.

Why Your Business Need a Brand Promise

A woman smiles during a rewarding online shopping experience that has delivered on a brand promise
Defining a promise for your business is critical to delivering the type of consistent, reliable brand experience that bolsters customer trust.

Beyond just a reliable experience, however, having a clearly articulated business promise that all of your internal stakeholders are aligned around ensures you’re delivering a meaningful customer experience whose value goes beyond transactional.

A strong brand promise has the power to:

  • Build customer trust
  • Reinforce core values
  • Clarify brand positioning
  • Differentiate your brand from the competition
  • Bolster brand loyalty
  • Boost sales and revenue

As multinational professional service firm Deloitte puts it, “Delivering on brand promise is directly tied to overall brand strength, and there’s plenty of evidence that a strong brand affects financial performance.”

If you haven’t defined brand promise, you’re leaving it up to customers to define it for you. And as with nearly every other aspect of your brand, you’re in a much stronger position when you’re the one who’s dictating perceptions.

For proof of the power of strong brand promises, one need look no further than the world’s most successful brands. Take Volvo, for example. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when think of a Volvo?

If you said “safety” you’re in good company.

The reason most people immediately associate safety with Volvo is that safety is the solemn pledge that Volvo has made to automotive customers—and delivered on—for decades.

For Volvo, safety is more than just a tagline, it’s a brand promise that Volvo’s customers know the brand will keep. Volvo promises drivers that its cars give will give them a better chance of surviving an accident than any other brand. And time and again this has proven true.

A final reason that safety is such a strong brand promise is that it connects Volvo to its target audience in a succinct and compelling way. A good promise is the visceral link between your brand and your customers.

6 Qualities of a Strong Brand Promise

The 6 qualities of a strong brand promise
While your brand promise is more than just messaging, effectively communicating your promise is still essential to its strength.

Your brand promise can be expressed in many forms, from your brand messaging to your tagline to your copywriting and beyond. It can be explicitly stated or subtly implied.

Whether explicit or implicit, though, the strength of any promise can be measured by the same set of qualities.

A strong brand promise is:

Authentic

Today more than ever, customers know an honest promise when they hear one. That means your brand promise must be borne from genuine purpose and true to your core values.

You may be familiar with Simon Sinek’s famous advice to business leaders “Start with why.” This is a useful perspective for all things branding, and that includes your brand promise. Understanding and articulating your company’s purpose statement and using it as a jumping-off point is the best way to ensure your brand promise is authentic.

Compelling

Your brand promise must be centered on a value proposition that actually matters to your customers. A compelling promise is one that embodies one of the most important qualities of any strong brand: relevance.

As we’ll see in the next section, defining compelling, maximally relevant brand promise starts by asking the question, “How does your brand solve your customer’s most important problem in a uniquely effective way?” The answer to this question is the key to a strong brand promise.

Unique

As we’ve already seen, a strong brand promise is a great way to differentiate your brand from the competition. That means a promise that’s unique to your brand within the marketplace.

Unique brand promises are the crux of strong brand positioning. If you can promise your customer a solution to their problem that is uniquely effective, you can essentially make your competition irrelevant.

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Memorable

The best brand promises aren’t just uniquely compelling, they’re also what marketers like to call “sticky.” That is, they stay with customers long after they first hear them.

A power of a memorable brand promise is that it’s more likely to be front of mind when your customer goes to make a purchasing decision. Influencing purchasing behavior is at the heart of all good branding—and starts with an unforgettable brand promise.

Believable

Of course, it doesn’t matter how memorable your brand promise is if customers don’t believe you can actually deliver on it. Believability starts with a well-articulated promise, but ultimately boils down to the proof points you offer to back your promise.

As we’ll see below, a powerful way to lend your promise an air of believability is to make it measurable. If the results of your brand promise can somehow be measured in a tangible way, your promise becomes that much more credible.

Clear

Last but certainly not least, your brand promise must be plainly articulated and easily understood. This means taking the time to define a promise following the steps outlined below, and clearly communicating that promise to everyone who needs to hear it.

This includes customers, sure, but also all of the stakeholders within your organization that will be responsible for communicating the promise themselves or, more importantly, making good on it.

Accounting for the six essential qualities above will ensure that your brand promise is strong enough to serve as a solemn agreement between your company and your customers.

But there’s one final metric that every promise must meet for it to be truly effective. As you hopefully understand by now, the most important measure of an effective promise is that it is kept—every time.

A promise is only good if it is consistently delivered on, after all. Brands who keep their promises strengthen both the promise itself and the customer loyalty it engenders.

How to Define a Strong Brand Promise

2 businessmen strategize in front of a whiteboard, working on defining their brand compass
Now that you have a solid understanding of what a brand promise is, you might be wondering how to write a brand promise of your own.

Defining your brand promise should be an intentional, strategic exercise that starts with understanding your customers and their needs. Be sure to include key internal stakeholders in the process, like your marketing and communications team (if you have one), sales staff, and executive leadership.

Let’s look at the first three steps that are essential to defining a brand promise that meets all of the criteria in the previous section.

Understand Your Customers’ Unique Needs

Defining a customer promise that is compelling, memorable, and believable starts with understanding the people to whom you’re making the promise.

Who are your target customers? What their everyday needs, challenges, and pain points? Getting these critical insights into those you serve is as easy as asking them. Brand research including customer interviews and/or surveys is the best way to truly understand your customers.

A basic research initiative aimed at your unique target audience(s) will help you get inside their heads to better understand what it is they value and what type of promise is going to resonate with them.

With the findings from your customer research in hand, the next step is to parse the insights and identify a list of unique needs mentioned by your customers.

Did they mention things like cost? Speed? Service? Maybe it’s something more specific like a luxury hotel experience or a more refreshing drink?

Tally up customer needs like these and make note of those mentioned more than once.

Once you have your list, it’s time to do an honest assessment of your brand’s ability to meet those needs. Which needs are you currently meeting? Which would require further investment to better fulfill?

The goal is to identify the needs that are most important to your customers and that your business is uniquely qualified to meet. Continue to narrow down the list with these criteria in mind until you hit upon a singular idea that meets all of the criteria in the previous section.

An important part of this exercise will be realizing which ideas you can get rid of with the goal of narrowing it down to one. Keep in mind that the ideas you do jettison might be good fodder for other areas of brand messaging.

Write a Brand Promise Statement

At this point, you’ve identified the core need that your customers have identified as most important to them and that you are unique qualified to fulfill. The next step is to articulate your brand promise statement.

In articulating your brand promise statement, the goal is to craft a simple, straightforward sentence that communicates how your brand pledges to fulfill the most important need of your customer. Easier said than done, but the keyword here is “simplicity.”

This is because the simpler the statement, the more powerful it is. This goes for most brand messaging and copywriting in general. If there is a brand promise template, it starts by taking whatever initial promise you write and removing any unnecessary language.

So, if you run a resort whose customers have told you their most important need is creating unforgettable memories with their families, your initial brand promise might be:

We pledge to create unforgettable memories for every family that comes to our resort.

But a stronger promise would be simply:

Unforgettable memories.

Boiling it down to as few words as possible and honing in on the emotional benefit your brand offers is the essential brand promise template. It’s key to articulating a brand promise that is sure to resonate with those you serve.

How to Deliver on Your Brand Promise

A package is delivered on time
As you’re likely well aware by now, when it comes to your brand promise, where the rubber hits the road is delivering on that promise.

If you’re asking yourself, “Ok, but how do I deliver on my brand promise,” there’s a proven framework for that, too.

In order to deliver on your brand promise, you have to effectively communicate it, integrate it into your brand experience, and continually measure to ensure the promise is being kept.

Communicate Your Brand Promise

Even the strongest brand promise is useless unless customers are aware of it. That’s why it’s so important to communicate your promise whenever and wherever possible.

Whether implicitly or explicitly, your company brand promise should be woven into all your marketing and advertising efforts. This includes digital marketing like social media and paid search campaigns, as well as traditional advertising like radio and TV.

Your brand promise should also be communicated by your team members as part of the cohesive experience they create for customers.

The goal isn’t to have frontline staff all rehearsing the same tagline over and over, but rather to find ways for them to reinforce the central promise you make to those you serve. Whether it’s calling customers by their first names or assuring them they can rely on staff for whatever they need—think of unique and highly personal ways your team can reinforce customer awareness of your promise.

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Integrate Your Brand Promise Across Your Business

If communicating your brand promise is one side of the brand experience coin, the other side is integrating your promise into everything you do as a business.

This means building your brand promise into customer experiences. It means reevaluating your business model to ensure your promise is being kept. It means going the extra mile to make absolutely certain your products or services are always living up to customer expectations.

Whether it’s unique in-store experiences centered on personalized service, specialized client onboarding techniques, or exclusive events and unexpected perks, customers should be reminded—at every conceivable turn—how you deliver on your promise.

Measure & Monitor Your Brand Promise’s Impact

The final step of any strong brand promise is to check to see that it’s being communicated and delivered on. You might think you have an amazing brand promise that your customers love, but the only way to know for sure is good old customer research (yes, again).

Key to effective brand management, ongoing research enables you to ensure your promise is well-articulated, understood by customers, and experienced in their engagement with your brand.

Checking in with customers also allows you to make sure your promise still resonates and fulfills their most important needs. As we’ve all learned over the past few years, the world changes quickly—and with it the needs and priorities of customers.

If research reveals any misalignments around your brand promise and your customer’s experience, the next step is to formulate an action plan.

More than simply adjusting marketing messaging, it’s important that the things you offer as a business continue to live up to the promise you make. And that the internal stakeholders responsible for them understand your brand promise—and why it’s so important to deliver on it.

Brand Promise Examples

A sign outside a Walmart location
The best way to understand the power of an effective brand promise is to see it in action in the world’s top brands.

As you’ll see, below sometimes a company brand promise is explicitly stated in its tagline. Sometimes it’s more of an idea that is nonetheless immediately associated with the brand. And sometimes it’s somewhere in between.

Let’s take a look at how the brands you know and love have leveraged strong brand promises to foster brand loyalty and build brand equity.

Walmart Brand Promise: “Save money. Live better.”

BMW Brand Promise: “The ultimate driving machine.”

Coors Light Brand Promise: “The world’s most refreshing beer.”

Southwest Airlines: “Low fares.”

Allstate Brand Promise: “You’re in good hands.”

Apple Brand Promise: “Think different.”

Nike Brand Promise: “Inspiration and innovation for every athlete in the world.”

Coca Cola Brand Promise: “To refresh the world and make a difference.”

Starbucks Brand Promise: “A welcoming ‘third place’ beyond work and home.”

Disney Brand Promise: “The happiest place on earth.”

Amazon Brand Promise: “The Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

Tesla Brand Promise: “Compelling mass market electric cars.”

Target Brand Promise: “Expect More. Pay Less.”

Google Brand Promise: “To make the world’s information useful and accessible.”

Geico Brand Promise: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

Zappos Brand Promise: “A WOW customer experience.”

FedEx Brand Promise: “Overnight delivery. Guaranteed”

McDonald’s Brand Promise: “The most reliably familiar dining experience anywhere on earth.”

Nationwide Brand Promise: “We’re on your side.”

LEGO Brand Promise: “Endless play.”

Red Bull Brand Promise: “Red Bull gives you wings.”

The Takeaway

A strong brand promise is one of the surest ways to foster brand loyalty and build brand equity. By identifying your target audience’s most important need and articulating a powerful statement pledging to meet that need, you will set your business up to start connecting with customers in a way only a brand promise can.

Just remember the final metric that every promise must meet for it to be truly effective: that it is kept, every time. A promise, as we all know, is only good if it is consistently delivered on. Businesses who keep their brand promises strengthen both the promise itself and the customer loyalty it engenders.

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A prolific blogger, speaker, and columnist, Brian has two decades of experience in design and branding. He’s written for publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, HuffPost, and Brand Quarterly.