Brand: deliver on your promise. It’s a matter of trust.
‘Certainty in an uncertain world’: that’s the emotional and functional benefit an effective brand offers to your customers – and by reflection your business. Consumers want to know they’re standing on solid ground with your offering – not only in terms of buying value but that your delivering something they can rely on – something they can trust. Time after time. Is this too much to ask? Can you currently deliver this intangible quality with your business activity? If not, brand might not be the answer for you. If business growth is of interest to you though, it might pay to reassess what you’re promising your customers if you’re struggling to deliver.
So how do you create brand certainty and trust? The first step is to create a brand promise – by defining what your customer can expect to experience each and every time they encounter and interact with your brand. Your brand promise therefore links closely to your customer experience. A recent Forrester report, however, suggests that 54% of consumers still don’t trust brands – not a single brand significantly improved its trust and experience scores from 2016, this despite higher consumer confidence.
Much of this distrust stems from broken brand promises linked to a failure to deliver on client expectations. Is it a case of all talk, and no delivery? All style and no substance? A jaded population, beaten (or ‘numbed’) into submission from an endless stream of hollow brand and marketing messages? Or is it a case of misaligned expectations or an indication of a deeper problem?
Promises are hard to keep. As the saying goes: ‘Don’t promise what you can’t deliver’. Leveraging emotions through core brand messaging – your brand promise – is a highly effective strategy when you’re looking to engage, persuade and influence new and existing customers. Betraying that promise, however, breaks the sanctity of trust built between the brand and the customer.
Brands are well aware that influential customers can share their experiences (positive or negative) with the online world, as well as their peer groups, in less than 160 characters. Communication is easier than ever before because we’re more connected through technology than ever before. Yet these same consumers still want to see action – they still want to see the results of your promise. They want trust and they want to believe in something, so your promise needs to be backed up with something tangible or of substance. At its core, this is about owning your values rather than ‘borrowing’ them.
Broken promises and poor customer service (usually poor communication) are linked and can stem from a poor or ineffective (i.e. non-existent) brand culture. This can erode and destroy trust in brands twice as fast as it is earned. Saying you believe in something and acting upon it are two different things – in this way your behaviour is your brand too.
The problem is brands all suffer across the spectrum from diminished credibility if customer cynicism and distrust is high. Those brands who fail to deliver on their promise only add to the customer disillusionment and apathy. By contrast the opportunity and reward here is for those few brands who consistently deliver on their promise – because naturally those brands will attract more customers who seek the genuine article having been let down in the past.
The brand antidote then? Authenticity and a genuine, realistic message are key characteristics that a business needs to voice when building a brand – or fixing a broken one. Achieving an alignment between your promise and successful delivery is where your brand integrity is created and maintained, what customers judge you on and where your professional reputation is formed.
Simply put, consumers first need to trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction or encounter. If that trust isn’t there they’ll simply seek out a brand that does meet those expectations and delivers on its promise again and again. So don’t give them the chance, opportunity or excuse to choose Brand ‘B’.
The second aspect consumers need to believe in terms of your brand promise is that it will deliver on its promise in any interactions that other people have with it too. Your customer needs to be comfortable, confident and have enough trust in your brand to be an advocate for you. Achieving this level of brand loyalty and advocacy is the sweet spot and requires consistent effort over a period of time. It’s the reward for honouring your promise.
Leveraging this built-up trust opens your brand to access more and more customers who believe and resonate with your offering – without any desired action or investment on your part. Failure to deliver on your brand promise, however, is the quickest way to break that bond of trust and, in effect, commit brand suicide.
The bottom line is that the most important quality businesses need to develop as part of any brand strategy is consumer trust in your brand promise. One of the most important building blocks in your Brand Blueprint for business growth is building brand trust which is created from your brand promise – and this needs to be a priority on your branding checklist.
So never promise the moon – what good is that to anyone? Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Keep your promise simple and inspiring, manageable yet achievable, realistic and above all, be sure to be able to deliver it consistently.
You owe it to customers to deliver on what you say you will. You owe it to yourself and your employees. That’s how better brands and businesses are built.
Be truthful to yourself and your customers.
Be your brand.
I hope you learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping businesses build a ‘brand blueprint’ for business growth. I do this through a series of brand workshops designed to educate businesses to identify their identity, visualise their vision and manifest their brand mission. ’Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now’. I’m passionate about helping businesses create unique brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to customers for business growth.
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur