How to craft a brand promise. (And put even your biggest competitor to shame)


How to write a Brand Promise

A great brand promise reads to your customer precisely as if they wrote it. It’s punchy, somewhat short, goes straight to the point and it aligns with their purpose in life.

A brand promise is also hella hard to write.

In the eighties, Ogilvy shared what, to this day, might be the most valuable thirty-eight-point list for any marketer out there. It consists of one more than thirty-seven thoughts on marketing, copywriting and advertising. The list is still relevant today. After all, it inspired this article.

It goes as follows:

“The [second] most important decision is this: what should you promise the customer? A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan. It is a benefit for the customer.
It pays to promote a benefit which is unique and competitive. And the product must deliver the benefit you promise.
Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace.”

While the writings are on the topic of creating an ad that generates a sh*t load of sales, it got me wondering.

In just over sixty words, Ogilvy shared how to write a brand promise that makes customers’ hearts beat and put competitors to shame.

Yet, even though marketers have enough data to wet their pants, many still miss the point.

Understanding the wants, needs, and aspirations of your potential buyer was, is, and will always be at the core of a great brand promise.

So, what is a brand promise?

A brand promise is a value or experience all customers should expect to receive every time they interact with a brand. The more a company delivers on it, the stronger the brand value in the mind of consumers and employees.

In other words…

People purchase products and services that make them feel unique.

When marketers do their job correctly, a brand promise does precisely that.

A brand promise is how your business interacts with every Sally, Joe or Nick that rings customer support. It’s the driving force behind your company’s “why”.

It’s also a promise to your prospective customer. That’s why BMW sells the ultimate driving machine, instead of a black, four-door sedan and Ogilvy and Mather, one of the biggest advertising agencies in the world don’t sell ads. They make brands matter.

Every successful business understands that having a clear brand promise is essential.

But does a small business need a brand promise?

Believe it or not, yes. Buyer behavior is shifting. Consumers are more likely to buy from small businesses. And what’s better than a tiny, focused, but driven by a mighty purpose brand?

Let’s dive in and see how a small, family pizzeria in New York is positioning themselves against big franchises. What is more competitive than the NY-style pizzeria’ market?

L&B Spumoni Gardens vs every other pizza franchise. Taking down giants with a great brand promise.

*I’m a sucker for a good slice of pizza.

There are plenty of food and beverage franchises in The Big Apple that serve pretty decent pizza. Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Caesars, you name it, NYC has it.

But what do you get when you buy from a generic pizza shop? Reasonable price for okay ingredients, the experience is okay, but nothing really that sets it out from the pizza shop down the block.

Now, let’s go over what you get when you grab a slice from L&B Spumoni Gardens. First, they make it crystal clear that making pizza for them is an art form.

Not only that but making pizza for them is a lifelong passion, and they make it to keep the tradition of eating and sharing a slice alive.

I’m serious, it’s on their about page, go see for yourself. On top of that, they have more than one hundred years of history. And they make sure to include it in their brand promise. So it reads:

“Always keeping in the tradition Ludovico started in 1939, everything we make is always made on premises with fresh, never frozen or prepackaged food.”

So, ask yourself. Where would you grab a slice from? I’m going with the latter.

If I could make a brand promise template, it would be something like this.

Customer value + Emotion + What makes you stand out + Brand positioning = Brand promise

To make this more comprehensible let’s break down the brand promise for my tiny copywriting agency.

Brief-er. is a tiny (what makes you stand out) copywriting agency, that writes no bull copy (customer value), for people that want to impact the world (brand positioning).

You can interchange the position of each part of the formula.

And if you can’t seem to crack it, that’s alright. You can find me writing something right here or draw inspiration from the next few lines.

26 Brand promise examples to move your soul.

Here are twenty-six brand promise examples that make customers’ hearts tick to the tune of the brand.

1. Coca-Cola — To refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit, and inspire moments of optimism; to create value and make a difference.

2. Nike — To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

3. Lego — Joy of building. Pride of creation.

4. Apple — Think different.

5. Google Chrome — The web is what you make of it.

6. Harley Davidson — We’re Harley Davidson. (They can pull it off)

7. Disney — Creating happiness through magical experiences.

8. Vans — Designed for the creative pursuit of being you.

9. BMW — The ultimate driving machine.

10. Red Bull — Giving wings to people and ideas.

11. Gucci — Reinventing a wholly modern approach to fashion.

12. Remedy Drinks — Long-aged brews. Small batches. Full of goodness. The tastiest kombucha going ’round.

13. Poppi Drinks — From Texas to your taste buds, with love.

14. Tesla — To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market.

15. Spindrift — America’s first sparkling water made with just real squeezed fruit. Yup, that’s it.

16. Coors Light — The World’s Most Refreshing Beer

17. Oatly — We don’t know anything about almonds or soy or cows. All we know is oats. How to grow them, harvest them and turn them into refreshing products that you can take home and treat your body to.

18. Smooth — Making delicious plant-based food that does right by you and fuels passion for the planet.

19. Adidas — Through sports, we have the power to change lives.

20. Geico — 15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.

21. Red Bull — Giving wings to people and ideas.

22. Starbucks — To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

23. Marriot — Quiet luxury. Crafted experiences. Intuitive service.

24. Wallmart — Save money. Live better.

25. Off-White — Embracing the now in a sophisticated manner.

26. Johnnie Walker — A beverage that fuels ambition to give you the confidence that accomplishes success.

While a brand promise is mostly meant for internal use, it should be prominently communicated to the world through your customer experience, actions, and product.

Take Nike, for example. Their brand promise isn’t “Just Do It.”, instead, they promise to “bring inspiration to every athlete in the world”.

They don’t mention a product. And neither should you.


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