Some words about Brand Promise

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If you follow my ramblings, you’re aware that I approach CX differently.  Rather than promising higher revenue, sales, and market share (at least, rather than promising it directly), my philosophy about Customer Experience is that it should be founded explicitly on your Brand Promise, and its goal should be eliminating the gaps that exist between your Customers’ experiences and that Brand Promise.  It’s where I came up with the metric, the Brand Alignment Score.

Let’s peel back a couple layers of that onion.  What’s meant by Brand Promise?  And what does it mean to be dedicated to it?

At the macro level, we can look at the Brand Promise as an amalgam of probably existing sentiments your company already has:  your Mission and Vision Statements; your corporate principles and values.  It’s the collection of thoughts and aspirations you collectively and your team members individually strive to make real as they interact with your Customers.  Your Brand Promise may be to save your Customers money (you’re a Value or Discount Brand), hassle (you’re an Ease-of-Use Brand), or time (you’re an On-Time, Always-Ready Brand).  You may be looking to provide superlative exquisite experiences (you’re a Luxury Brand), or top-notch durability and reliability (you’re a Quality Brand).

Of course, it’d be awesome if you could deliver a hassle-free, luxury, quality experience right on time every time and for the lowest price in the industry.  But even if all that was practical, you may lose a bit of caché if all you had to say to your Customers and potential Customers is:  “We’re simply the best; Buy from us.”  Much more reasonable—and common, and believable—is for your brand to pick one of these and go with it.  Surely, for example, you’ll want to deliver the best quality for the price if you’re a Discount Brand, but your Customers understand, appreciate, and perhaps even to a degree anticipate that if that’s the case, your product may not be quite as reliable as your next more expensive competitor.  And that’s fine.  You can’t be all things to all people, and if you try to be, you’ll fall short somewhere along the line and that’s much worse than never having promised it in the first place.  To continue this one example, if the quality of your product is a little below certain Customers’ standards, and they’re dissatisfied with the durability of your product, at least you never promised them durability, for what it’s worth.  While that may seem flippant at first, consider how much less appealing it is if you had promised “High Quality and Low Cost” and only delivered on one of those two things.  People will see through it.  There are parallels and other examples depending on what your actual Brand Promise is.  The details will vary of course, but the gist remains the same:  You’re you, and you want to deliver that to your Customers reliably.

So, here’s a thought experiment about your Brand Promise, and even more specifically, your actual dedication to your Brand Promise:

Say you have found a way to save a ton of money somewhere in your supply chain.  Perhaps you found a new supplier for a sub-component that will deliver the exact same material at a much lower cost, everything else staying the same.  That’s fantastic!  So what do you do with your windfall?  Ideally, you help out your employees and shareholders and other constituencies right off the top.  Maybe you offer a bonus to your head of logistics for securing such a great new deal.  But say the savings are enduring enough that you now actually have more resources in perpetuity.  What you do next will actually not only reinforce your Brand Promise, it’ll define it, regardless of what you tell your Customers it is.

If you pass the savings in the form and lower your prices on to your end Customer, you’re definitely a Value or Discount Brand.  If you take those savings and invest in new technology in an attempt to develop newer and better products for your Customers, you may be a Quality Brand or an Innovation Brand.  If you put the money into hiring new service employees or upgrading and refreshing the existing equipment you use to serve your Customers, you may be a Luxury Brand.  We could go on and on with examples, but here’s the thing they’d all have in common:  They’d be no-brainer decisions based on what you value and what role you want to play in the lives of your Customers.

Want to check the dedication your organization has to its Brand Promise (or perhaps discover what your true Brand Promise is, regardless of what you say it is)?  Try this experiment:  Start asking team members what they think would happen (or what they’d do if it were up to them) in such a situation.  You may find that you’re not as dedicated to your Brand Promise as you think you are.  Even though the exercise is notional, it’ll still offer a great window into how dedicated you truly are to your Brand Promise and making it real for your Customers.

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