Crafting Your Unique Brand Promise: Finding the Big Idea


Do you want truly competitive differentiation for your company—with a value-added extra that makes the products and services you offer resoundingly unique and clearly better than your competitors? You can find it in The Big Idea—your unique brand promise.

A compelling brand promise is essential for creating a powerful marketing and sales engine. In fact, this is one of the most misunderstood, unappreciated, and neglected parts of the marketing process. Advertising visionary David Ogilvy was right when he said that “positioning” (his term for creating the brand promise) is the most important decision made in promoting a service or product. Ogilvy was also correct when he said that successful positioning has more impact on the results of a promotion than how an ad was created.

Because of this, I urge our clients to devote time to crafting their brand promise—especially before starting a new campaign. It is essential to define your brand promise because it will act as a guidepost against which you can track all of your tactical activities. Determine your brand promise, communicate it well and then keep that promise to clients and customers consistently. When your activities faithfully reflect your core promise, you know you are on-track. .

Every company or organization, and each product or service they offer, has its own unique brand promise and position. A company can hold different marketing positions among different target audiences. In addition, people can have their own unique positions, which are often built upon and reinforced through social media. Companies can gain major benefits by properly positioning their key executives through different marketing positions and social media..

What is a unique brand promise? The unique brand promise is what you promise people they will receive when they do business with you—what are you giving them in terms of product, service and customer experience. Your marketplace position is defined as “the manner in which an organization and the products or services it provides are perceived by prospects and customers.” People often use the terms interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two ideas. You control your own brand promise, while the marketplace controls your position. If your brand promise is based on what truly differentiates your company from others, it is much easier to align the brand promise and marketplace position.

Of course, it is hard to be all things to all people, so I suggest that you get rid of the “me-too” approach— that is, entering the market echoing the same value propositions as your competitors. Instead, focus on a Big Idea.

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The best way to think about your own Big Idea is to consider how you would answer if a prospect asked you the question, “What’s the big idea about your company?” Your answer to this question is, in essence, your brand promise. It is true that prospects ask themselves this question every time they consider your offer. And the reason many of them don’t buy from you is they don’t think your offer is a Big Idea. Why? Because you don’t tell them why this is true.

The “me-too” approach may be safer, but just repeating what your competitors are saying can also make you appear to be a commodity, and companies that act like a commodity will not be successful in a time when consumers have myriad choices.

There is a simple lesson here: be different; be unique. It is fundamental to your marketing success to find the Big Idea in your company and capture it succinctly. When you do, it will help your team create the best and most effective marketing strategy for any medium. Doing so will also help your customers find your products and services more easily in a landscape cluttered with competing messages.

Christopher Ryan
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One comment

  • Jacob February 26, 2013   Reply →

    You can’t run the race without knowing where the finish line is, that’s for certain. The trouble for some companies is that being unique sometimes requires a complete shift in branding approach. I’ve often run into hesitation here. How do you appeal to clients who seem totally set in their ways?

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