When a brand advertises, markets, or otherwise communicates a message to you it’s in fact making a promise. That company isn’t creating a campaign, website, print ad, or tv spot. Nope, they’re creating promises with their consumers/customers. Lately, I’ve been in several meetings and have take stock of several brand interactions I’ve had where there’s a clear gap between the promise being made and the ability to live up to that promise.
More specifically, I was in a meeting recently, where the brand architecture was essentially pointed to as being “optimistic” and not reality. However, even though it’s not reality yet, we should be leveraging it as the foundation for communication. In other words, even though they knew the product could not live up to how the product was going to be marketed, they wanted to do it anyway.
Huh? That’s like gas on a fire. If I send a blogger product X for review and in the communication to the blogger I describe the product as amazing, remarkable, the best, the gold standard, and sure to please – it better do all of those things. Because if it doesn’t, not only is my reputation tarnished with the blogger, the company/brand/product is going to get ripped to shreds.
BMW promises the consumer that when you buy one of their cars, you are getting the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” The foundation for that claim is “Independent. Unmistakable. Unique. Admittedly, we’re not the typical car company.” As a two time BMW owner and someone who worked on their business for 3 years, I can tell you two things about those statements:
- When it comes to “driving” their is no substitute in their category. Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, etc. are all very nice cars, but they could never claim (well they shouldn’t) they are the “Ultimate Driving Machine.”
- My expectations for customer service and mechanical service have always been underwhelming. When I see and hear that they aren’t the typical car company, my expectations are that ever facet of their business will be different than the norm. The reality is, it isn’t.
Often I hear clients that operate a franchise model bemoan the inability to ensure consistency at each franchise location. This often leaves me perplexed for several reasons. But, primarily, it leaves me perplexed because I don’t understand why you’d spend millions of dollars to advertise one type of experience to generate millions of people coming to your store – only – to under-deliver on those messages and leave the consumer with a negative take on your brand.
Look, this is simple folks. In today’s rapidly evolving interactive world, if you break that promise people will know quickly. That’s a recipe for product, brand, and relationship disaster. Please don’t try and pass off cat food as caviar, no matter how much the smell a like.