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Today’s post is part of a series. One that I am writing over a number of weeks about your brand promise. If you are asking “What’s a brand promise?“, you can read up on that before continuing.
If you know what one is and you don’t get it, you might be asking “Do I really need a brand promise?“. Fair question.
One that was asked of me a number of months back by Tess Vigeland of the Marketplace Money Radio Show (American Public Media). She and a number of her listeners were wondering if a brand promise was really nothing more than empty marketing mumbo jumbo.
You can listen to the brand promise radio podcast now if you like.
But today’s post is how to create a brand promise. So below I’ve tried to outline a process for you. Some steps to get you started.
Note that this is a simplified (not simple) version of a much more significant process. If you have a business, organization or big initiative that needs a clear brand promise, let me know. But for most of you, this should get you started thinking about what is involved.
1. Brand Background – What’s your career back story? How did your product or cause take shape? What are some of the key moments or milestones that delivered you to this point? What shaped you? Knowing your history can help to create the context for a great brand promise. If you have always liked helping people in some way, that may inspire an aspect of your brand’s promise. If your passion has been around making money by creating things (writing, art, music), then “creating” can be a base theme. Also, take the time to define what truly makes you, your business or service unique. Why should we care?
2. Your Core Values – To create a list of core values, here are some of the questions to ask yourself. What are the benefits of working with you, using your product or contributing to the nonprofit. Be careful not to name features like “I’m smart” or “it has a 48 inch screen” or we “provide food to the poor”. Think deeper. Think “so what?” for every example you write down. Next, write down three things you believe in. They can be specific to your brand or product. They can also be broader thoughts that are more related to your life. Remember a brand promise needs to be something that is true and authentic. It has to come from you and/or the people who are leading the initiative.
3. Brand Territory – Research your target market and decide where your brand competes. If you are a nonprofit in the human services area, who else is trying to create a brand position there? If you are launching a new yogurt shop, what other “sweet outlets” can be found in your area and what are they promising? If you are looking for a job or consulting work, what do your target companies care about (what specialties of yours will attractive)? In the end it is important to pick a spot where you or your product will compete. You can’t be everything to everybody.
4. Brand Personality – Describe your personality or the personality of your product, business, service. Is it fun, serious, silly, intense, educational, smart, provocative or reserved. What characteristics do you think your target market is likely to exhibit when interacting with you or your product? Do you have any signature phrases you always use? Write those down and then write down anything you hear people saying about the product or the experience of being around it.
5. Brand properties – Established brands have logos, colors, images and often sounds associated with them. Does yours? If so, write them down. If not, create a short list for each that you would associate with your brand. This process can help you to identify a way to create a visual representation of your brand. This may seem hard (weird) to do if the brand is you, but give it a try.
6. Create a positioning statement – This is a short paragraph that is created to solidify everything above into a clarifying statement of purpose about your brand. You will never say these words to anyone (in marketing materials or on a website). This is merely to summarize what you learned in process steps 1-5. A positioning statement has the following structure: “By (benefit 1) and (benefit 2) , (Brand) is the (personality 1) and (personality 2) solution for (brand territory).
7. Develop messaging – With your positioning statement complete, you can now begin writing copy to use for an elevator pitch or for the bio or summary copy on your website’s about page. It should be sourced from your work above, but be written in a less formal style. A style that would be fun to read and short enough that people will actually read it. So first try to turn your positioning statement into a light, interesting summary. And write out some phrases that you think capture the essence of your brand. Why it exists.
8. Write your brand promise – There are some great brand promise examples you can review. And that might really help. Because a brand promise doesn’t have to be long. It can be only a few words. And so you might be asking why I have to do all the work above just for a brand promise that is only a few words long. Because those words really matter. And once you have those words, you get to communicate a ton of value very quickly. But they have to be right. If they are not right or can’t be supported, you will not be happy and you will lose customers who were looking for something else from the relationship with your brand.
I know this isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s not supposed to be easy. But complete the work and you will have a one-liner to help people quickly understand you, your product, service or cause. Very quickly. So you can move onto to talking the order, accept the job offer or cash the donation check.
And isn’t that what you want?
Thanks fotologic for the great shot via Flickr