A brand promise is like a commitment you make to your friends, spouse, customers, community, religion, country, competitors, industry and kin. However, the validation of your brand promise is the hands and minds of your target market. If you do not build and support your brand promise, your competitors and critics most certainly will. A brand is an emotional connection of one entity or group to another. A brand promise is akin to the phrase “say what you mean and mean what you say”. In other words, honour and deliver on your word; “do not make your problems someone else’s problems”.
Case in point, we all remember the past Prime Minister, Paul Martin (also branded Mr. Dithers, as explained in next paragraph). Arguably, Mr. Martin was (as the finance minister under the Chrétien government) a tough, decisive deficit-cutter who won the respect of international economic circles. Unfortunately once Prime Minister, he was cursed with performance anxiety (similar to Albert Brooks in the Hollywood movie of the mid 80’s, “Broadcast News”) and appears to be overcome with overt stress, stammering and “fence sitting” on policies during question period.
In 2005, the British magazine, The Economist, dubbed Paul Martin as Mr. Dithers for his indecisiveness as a prime minister. The Opposition to the incumbent Liberal government initiated a relentless attack and inflamed his brand as Mr. Dithers. Consider the 1950’s cartoon strip “Blondie”, in which Mr. Dithers is Dagwood Bumstead’s boss. Mr. Dithers is a bumbling, frustrated, confused, completely indecisive business owner / manager, unable to make up his mind. This gave rise to the House of Commons opposition parties constantly heckling PM Martin by yelling “Would the Prime Minister stop Dithering on the issue” thus spiraling Mr. Martin’s presentation into a 90-degree nosedive of embarrassment. The inability of Mr. Martin’s teams to brand their leader as a cautious, analytical and trustworthy Prime Minister was their greatest weakness … and a “negative brand” is born.
Your target audience experiences your brand in several ways: websites, ads, social media, marketing materials, trade shows, electronic media, sales reps, etc. Each of these brand distribution channels (touchpoints) forms the impression of your brand in your target’s mind.
Your brand experience creates a set of opportunities. It qualifies who you are, how you function, and your unique selling proposition. At the end of the day, your brand experience is a promise – a promise that must be honoured.
Therefore, if the brand is a promise your company formulates, the client’s experience is the fruition of that promise. The target market’s experience must have a predictable outcome. Your brand experience needs to be carefully constructed, designed and managed with the ultimate goal of elevating your value. It must consistently reinforce the brand promise across every customer touchpoint or the value of the brand itself is in jeopardy.
Most certainly, “positive brands” are built and supported on a daily basis. The buzz in 2004 was that rockstar / advocate Bono from the Irish rock band U2, was so cool that just knowing him made you a “cooler” public figure (just ask Mr. Paul Marin during Bono’s visit to Canada where the rockstar challenged Mr. Martin to help Africa). Everybody instinctively wants to be associated with winners, builders, mentors, philanthropists and yes, rockstars.