The purposeful potential of brand promise

From vanilla to powerful. Brands need something to stand by if they’re to win hearts and stay relevant.

What is a brand promise?

Mission statements, slogans, visions, values, mantras, big ideas. They all have their place, but if they’re not grounded by a purpose, they’re probably not going to be much use.

When a brand commits to a promise, their proposition is drastically empowered. A statement of who you are and a commitment of what you’ll do. It’s the compelling reason why people choose your brand. What sticks in their heads, what connects with them. It cuts to the heart of the matter, single-minded, intuitive, and emotional.

It’s a value or experience a company’s customers can expect to receive every single time they interact with that company. The more a company can deliver on that promise, the stronger the brand value in the mind of customers and employees. — Adobe

Brand promise speaks to the long-term meaning of a brand. If it’s solely functional not only is it forgettable, it misses the point. It must communicate the business’ raison d’être, its reason ‘why’.

Your purpose is what you strive towards, brand promise provides the commitment you make to get there. It inspires all aspects of a brand, its attitude, the way it behaves, the lifestyle it represents. People want the promise of powerful experiences. Brands need to give them reasons to believe.

KPMG say they “are seeing a shift towards ‘buying into’ an organisation rather than ‘buying from’ it.” This is what cuts through the clutter. A message that resonates; one you’re committed to.

The purposeful promise. The most powerful kind. Aligning people’s emotional connection with a brand to its reason for being and defining that partnership in a sentence. Every interaction lives up to this and delights in it.

“Organisations that do not invest in their purpose are said by economists to be indulging in ‘cheap talk’”, according to Harvard Business Review.

Why you need a brand promise

We should think of it as the differentiator. A crucial ingredient for any brands strategy to launch into a market and gain the advantage, especially when operating in sectors where service and product are hard to distinguish between the competition.

“It’s the one thing that you always want to keep front and centre as you craft your messaging and build relationships with customers. Why? Because everything you do should be in service of delivering on that promise.” — Forbes

A heritage brand that understands this is Hermès. When they opened their Maroquinerie de Louviers workshop this year Hermès reaffirmed their fierce commitment to the “the pursuit of excellence” “with craftsmanship at the heart of its model”. It will house 260 artisans, each solely producing every bespoke product, individually. The new factory reinforces the same commitment to craft that began in Thierry Hermès’ saddle workshop in 1837.

Hermès’ promise ran deeper than a catchy slogan. It gave the company its DNA that allowed it to transcend the market for premium equestrian equipment and even luxury leather goods. Hermès stays relevant in the lives of its audience.

The brands we chose to identify with characterise who we are, who we think we are, or who we dream of becoming … those that endure are those that treasure the powerful role they play in peoples’ lives. Hermes is such an example, and remains a brand of enduring excellence. — Forbes

Get emotionally relevant – The place promise.

Matching service to demand equals relevance. Well not quite. A service or product may respond to market demand; a shortage of residential housing, a transformation of land from derelict to a new destination, but staying power comes in how the brand presents itself. The promise it makes. Stick with the same marketing formula and you may not keep up. Brands need to show everyone their purpose and connect on an emotional level.

Emotional doesn’t have to mean cute. What drives our decision making is the feeling we get when we see, read, listen and touch what we’re presented with. Some work on facts, others need the full picture laid out for them. Whatever your audience’s style of decision-making, you need to make sure your purpose aligns with their mindset. They need something that they’ll believe in.

In place and space, audiences are dealing with huge financial investments. They need reassurance that the brand they buy into will maintain its relevance and its value. Your proposition needs to offer more to their lives.

Brand promise provides the emotional throughline. Lean into the emotion and the brand’s personality will start carving your own language. Tone is part of the differentiation, forming that human connection to place. Show your audience you’re listening to them, write a narrative that gets personal, matching details with a real emotion that articulates your purpose. Get it right, and you forge a partnership that endures.

Place matters. It’s important to the human psyche… Brand rituals create emotional bonds which in turn forge communities. — Gensler

A distinct promise

Rockwell came to us to create a brand like no other residential development on the market. One that matched their ambition and championed their purpose: to ‘move past the ordinary’ in everything they do. Their flagship Thames riverside development needed a promise full of purpose. Our response needed to be ambitiously different.

Inspiration started with Hurlingham’s ownables. A distinguished neighbourhood, private wildflower gardens and 269 bespoke, design led apartments overlooking the Thames.

Everything about Hurlingham Waterfront is distinctly different. That’s its essence. A luxury brand offering a lifestyle that moves past the ordinary with an unexpected experience for the senses. As per Forbes’ mantra; Memorable, unique, simple, inspiring, credible, timeless.

Striving for excellence and a long-lasting development legacy, Rockwell understood what it means to realise an enduring brand and a timeless promise of place. They trusted us to deliver on this powerful promise with a commitment to uncompromising creativity.

Distinctly different

Every aspect of the identity and the brand’s experience had to deliver on the promise. To be distinctly different. An emblem that references the distinction and craft of the hallmark. An aesthetic that evokes the sensory hallmarks of fashion and elegance. Subtle references to the sophistication of the neighbourhood, its waterfront views and wildly private gardens. Distinction and difference. An aspiration to buy into, of luxurious proportions.

Our dedication to the unexpected and experiential sophistication, extended to Hurlingham’s partnerships. Hurlingham Waterfront’s neighbours, The Hurlingham Club, is one of the world’s finest member clubs and is regarded as the birthplace of polo. Delivering on the expectations of its distinguished members since 1869; it matches the new development’s commitment of longevity by distinction.

Hosted in their private gardens, an experience crafted to evoke Rockwell’s brand promise welcomed members at the club’s annual arts festival. Bespoke design touches, elegant seating and a branded partnership with Lockdown Liquor Co. served up tailor made cocktails, introducing Hurlingham Waterfront in a distinguished setting. It’s this creative commitment to engaging experiences that builds trust in a brand’s promise. And identification with a company’s purpose.

Up to 75% of brand building comes from experiential touchpoints. — Kantar

Mapping brand promise against customer experience, Kantar found “a memorable and distinctive experience is one of the primary drivers for creating a strong brand. Strong brands are built on the positive experiences people have with them; brand promise influences consumers’ brand choice, and the experience confirms their expectations.”

What’s more, “analysis of ‘breakthrough brands’ showed they deliver more than a solid functional experience – they offered a Meaningfully Different one.” Be brave. Break the formula of property selling and own the holistic experience of a brand’s promise.

Stand for something. Build a purposeful promise around your brand, and your place. And see it through, with every touchpoint reaffirming that emotional connection.

At Hurlingham Waterfront, Rockwell trusted us to create a new perspective on the way to market a place to live. Bursting with ownable identity, style and elegance. Keeping its promise to be distinctly different.

As Forbes put it. “Your brand promise should be something that inspires confidence… It should be something that gets people excited about doing business with you—something that they can look forward to.” It should be memorable, unique, simple, inspiring, credible and timeless. Music to your audience’s ears.