Promises, promises: Why your brand promise is important for success

Can you remember the last time somebody broke their promise to you?
Maybe it was recently when a colleague promised they would get that important task done before lunch, only to swan off for their victuals leaving your inbox empty.
Or for those of us with children, perhaps you’ve experienced the earnest promise from a little ray of sunshine that they absolutely, definitely will tidy their room. But at bedtime you walk in on what can only be described as The Battle of The Somme with Lego and cuddly toys.
How did you feel when that promise was broken? Upset, disappointed, angry. Despairing (for the parents out there). That’s normal.
But is a broken brand promise really such a big deal? It can be.

What is your brand promise?

Your promise to customers is a core, and sometimes unspoken, part of your brand identity. It is what you tell customers, either explicitly or implicitly, they can expect from your business. It sets their expectations on the quality of your products or services, and gives them a feeling about your brand. This feeling can be very visceral, which means that when the promise is broken your brand is in for a nasty reaction.
But time and again brands fail to deliver on their promise for a variety of reasons. Or it comes to light that, behind the scenes, a brand does some things that clash with the external messaging they keep blaring out (as if we didn’t already know it deep down in our hearts, but didn’t want to acknowledge it).
And when people lash out at a brand, either as an individual disgruntled customer or as a wider movement mobilised by social media, it seems to come as a surprise to said business. Maybe that’s because, according to Gallup, only about 50 per cent of customers expect a brand to actually deliver on what it says it will. So if brands know half of us don’t trust them anyway then maybe it does come as a shock that, when they deceive us or fail to live up to expectations, we get so angry.

Why you should keep your brand promise

A promise isn’t a binding contract, and yet we get more hurt, in a more profound way, when a promise is broken than when somebody breaks a clause in a contract.
Because a promise, if it is really understood and accepted as one, entails a certain closeness of relationship, there’s an element of trust in it that is exactly opposite to a contract. Accepting a promise is a sign that you trust this person; their word is their bond. Whereas a contract is in effect saying “I don’t really trust you to uphold your end of the bargain so please sign this piece of paper so I can beat you with a stick if you fail to be a good egg.” For that reason a broken promise wounds us, causing an emotional reaction.
And when we have emotional reactions we often act irrationally and with great force. The broken promise can, potentially, permanently sour a relationship, be it with a friend, a colleague, or a brand.
That’s why your brand promise matters. And it’s why so many brands struggle with brand identity, customer loyalty, and wider engagement.
If you’re interested in developing your brand or want to develop a new brand then get in touch with us to see how we can help.