Brand Promises that Work: Five Tips and Examples


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Apple: Think Different.

Walmart: Save Money. Live Better.

BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

When a brand’s promise is effective, you can tell. Customers of a brand with a strong promise can more easily identify why they like buying from that brand, and can articulate what sets them apart from other brands. When that happens, it’s a sign of a brand promise that aligns with the customer’s personal experience with the brand, and accurately speaks to the expectations that they associate with it.

In this article, we’ll cover five ways that effective brand promises capture the attention of their customers. Along the way, we’ll cover examples of brands that have successfully done so, and explain what makes them so impactful.

Tip #1: Stay true to the organization

Big-name brands with lofty promises like “think different” may seem larger than life. But in reality, those promises are grounded in a very real offering that sets the brand apart from competitors. By staying true to the core differentiator that people come to a brand to experience, organizations can more effectively build a promise that resonates with people’s experiences. 

A brand promise shouldn’t just be what you want your brand to be. It's the guiding principle of every decision the organization makes about the products it makes, its approach to innovation, and in the end, is the summation of all the emotional and functional benefits that your brand actually offers. Apple is selling technology, but it also wants to communicate the innovative creativity that the technology introduces into its customers’ lifestyles. Hence, “think different” becomes a brand promise that is true to the core of that organization’s offering.

All brands with effective brand promises have an underlying brand story: a summary of the events and beliefs that sparked the beginning of a company,  expressing how that genesis drives the mission, vision and values of your brand. When crafted with authenticity to your organization, it gives people a reason to relate to your mission and find a common interest, driving their decision to purchase. 

The brand promise acts as a headline to the brand story. It wraps up the entire ethos of your brand into a digestible idea that anyone can identify and resonate with.

Example #1: Inspiring belief in the promise

When natural gas servicer Archrock was looking for a way to expand its operations to new markets, it needed to express its focus on trusted relationships and reliable service. Upon collecting multiple customer interviews and market research, our team determined that the core of the Archrock brand centered on keeping operations up and running as much as possible. 

To encapsulate that focus, we developed their new brand promise: Our Time is Your Uptime. It spoke to why customers kept returning to that brand and was authentic to the brand’s offering as a guarantor of reliable service without interruption.

Tip #2: Set the standards for expectations

One common mistake people make when discussing brand promises is the confusion between a brand promise and a tagline.

Taglines, similar to brand promises, are often short, catchy, and express a lot about a company. But they are usually more specific to a particular campaign, a product or some other distinct offering. On the other hand, a brand promise should encapsulate the entirety of the brand’s story into a single line, ringing true across all touchpoints between customers and the company.

While, in some cases, the brand promise may be used as a tagline for the organization, the distinction between the two is important. A brand promise should, in short, be a promise: a guarantee about something that the customer can reliably expect to get every time they interact with the brand. In doing so, the brand promise builds emotional connections with customers and allows them to build an expectation about that brand.

A brand is made up of all of the associations a person has with a company. It’s an idea in customers' minds that influences whether or not they want to continue to buy from that organization. A brand promise is a way to set the standard for that perception and communicate a certain expectation for the customer to compare their experience with.

Example #2: Living up to the promise

BrandExtract’s own brand promise, Inspire Belief, is a promise about brand promises. We help people create, transform and grow by aligning their brand with their true purpose. This, in turn, inspires people to believe in their mission as an organization and become more likely to work with them in the future. The point of a brand promise is to inspire belief, through an authentic communication of the real value a brand brings to the table.

Tip #3: Be simple and real

It should be no surprise that organizations must deliver on the promise to have an effective brand promise. As mentioned above, the brand promise sets a certain standard by which customers will measure their experience with the brand. If their experience doesn’t meet what your brand promise is offering, it can seriously damage their perception of your organization.

For that reason, brand promises should speak to what customers already know and love about interacting with a brand. Long-time brand advocates who hear a brand promise should instantly be able to resonate with it and connect their own experiences to it.

If there’s a disconnect between what a brand promises and what customers are experiencing, it could be a sign that the brand isn’t properly aligned with its true value. Performing in-depth research on the brand and its customers can help regain an understanding of where the brand provides value for the people who interact with it the most.

Example #3: Living up to the promise

When we began working with industry-leading offshore driller Transocean, they needed help elevating their brand during rapidly shifting market conditions. Many saw them as a brand stuck in the past, using old techniques while the rest of the market had moved on to shale drilling on land. The truth was that Transocean had innovated further in offshore drilling than anyone else and was embracing new technology and improvements that were pushing them to new heights.

Their new brand promise, Boundless, encapsulated the limitless nature of their growth and ingenuity. It communicated an endless potential for progress and a guarantee of elevated thinking beyond the ordinary. The new brand promise propelled Transocean to new heights and gradually shifted perceptions around their brand.

Tip #4: Be consistent

Brand consistency is a major factor in maintaining recognition among longtime brand advocates and newcomers who can recognize a brand after only a few touchpoints. But it also fulfills a brand promise better when the organization’s services, look and feel, tone and identity remain consistent.

This isn’t to say that nothing about a brand should change (in fact, that’s exactly what the next tip is about). But in accordance with Tip #1, your brand should remain true to its identity and to its main differentiators. Doing so requires regular check-ups with the ways in which your brand expresses itself through marketing and customer service to ensure that it appropriately expresses your brand values.

Brand consistency also strengthens the internal brand, allowing teams to stay aligned on the organization’s true purpose and building employee buy-in. As team turnover inevitably causes a brand to lose some of its internal expertise, it becomes more important to continuously check in on how the brand is being expressed to the outside world.

Example #4: Driving the right message home

Mobile office space provider WillScot was undergoing major growth when they approached BrandExtract. So much so that it took a lot of work to tell exactly what the brand stood for.

Our team helped them find the core of their value proposition. It wasn’t just a commodity they were selling in mobile offices; it was the ability to get a project up and running in record time, with everything a company could use, from portable toilets to furniture to storage containers. Hence, the new brand promise Ready to Work communicated a brand promise that offered expedited preparedness. WillScot became a company that enabled the success of organizations across the continent.

Tip #5: Stay versatile

Equally important as staying true to the promise of a brand is maintaining relevance through consistent updates to how the brand is expressed. This may seem contradictory at face value, but it’s a necessary step for keeping a brand at the forefront of the conversation.

This doesn’t mean chasing every fad that comes along. It requires thoughtful consideration of how the world is changing around the brand, and how the brand’s promise can be adapted to the new ways customers interact with the brand.

In the case of Walmart, their old promise of “Always Low Prices” that was maintained throughout the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s needed an update after the corporate strategy of the company couldn’t keep up with the promise of guaranteed lowest prices anymore. Instead, the company adapted the promise to a new era and elevated it to capture the higher-level emotional needs satisfied by the brand: “Save Money. Live Better.”

This is one example of a brand changing the way it expresses its promise while maintaining the core idea: saving money to enable a better lifestyle. While less functional and more emotional, the new brand promise captures that same appeal of saving people money so they can provide for their families and live richer lives.

Example #5: Showing the true value

S&B, an EPC firm with over 55 years of experience executing major engineering and construction projects, had a strong base of loyal customers. The only issue was that people saw them as a “mom-and-pop” firm that lacked the ability to deliver large-scale results.

When our team stepped in to help correct that perception, the main value we heard from customers and internal stakeholders alike was that the firm’s expertise gave them confidence in a job well done. Consider it Done became the brand’s promise, signaling certainty and competence that enabled success in the face of major challenges.



Crafting an effective brand promise is more than constructing a memorable tagline. It’s about encapsulating the essence of your brand's mission, values, and unique offering. It's a strategic endeavor that requires authenticity, consistency, and a deep understanding of your customers' expectations and experiences. Brands like Apple, Walmart, BMW, Archrock, BrandExtract, Transocean, WillScot, and S&B exemplify the power of a well-articulated brand promise that resonates with audiences and guides the brand's strategic direction. 

Through innovation, reliability, simplicity, consistency or adaptability, each brand's promise serves as a beacon that attracts and retains customers, ultimately distinguishing it in a crowded marketplace. Remember, a successful brand promise is more than just words; it's a commitment to delivering value that inspires belief and loyalty. As you refine your brand strategy, consider the lessons from these examples and the impact a compelling brand promise can have on your brand's legacy and customer relationships.

Inspire Belief in Your Brand

If you need help aligning your brand with your true value, don’t hesitate to reach out. For more articles on brand strategy with impact, check out these resources: