Brand Promise Meets Brand Experience

Most of us have a favorite song, a favorite book and a favorite movie; perhaps even a favorite child.

At work, you may have a favorite boss, favorite seat in the conference room, a favorite type of pen or a favorite sandwich from that small office park deli down the street.

Chances are most don’t have a favorite Venn diagram. Well, I do. In fact, it’s this Venn diagram. This Venn diagram brings the concept of brand and experience into focus for me better than any book or presentation. And, this Venn diagram is where I have spent the last decade-plus of my life working to bring the circles into better alignment.

[Note: I learned the Venn diagram over a decade ago as but am unsure of the its correct attribution.]

While there is one adage that says you don’t become authentic, you are authentic, another one I just created says, self-authenticity is a daily affair. The simple act of saying who you truly are and then actually doing those things is a path to authenticity as a brand, a company and a person.

Brands make promises on behalf of companies. For the better part of history brands have been tremendous at making promises. In the last few decades, brands have gotten even better at making the right promise targeted to the right individual at the right time, in the right medium.

It is not an easy thing to do, but it is certainly easier than the painstaking work it takes to develop and consistently stage an experience that delivers on the promise. It’s an experience that goes far beyond the product and far beyond “touchpoints”. Brand experience encapsulates everything a company does and how it is aligned in support of the experience promised to people—consumers and employees.

The challenge for organizations is squarely on aligning the activities of the organization to the brand promise. Certain areas traditionally receive attention and intention, while others are left to chance. No more so is this true than in aligning the people of the organization to deliver an authentic and consistent experience.

Consider the following ways to align your people to your brand:

Share the brand.
Far too often brand work stays in the promise factory known as marketing without much of an effort to help employees understand what it means besides an identity or a new tagline. People will amaze you once they understand what you are trying to accomplish on behalf customers and what it means for them in their work.

Translate the brand.
People are more likely to live the brand if it lives around them. How does your promise and uniqueness translate to the employee experience and live in the culture? Be intentional in bringing it to life inside your organization. If people can feel the brand daily, they can delivery it genuinely to each other and consumers.

Apply the brand.
One way to engender behavior change and consistency is through making it impossible to escape the brand. Make it present through the stories shared, the words used and as a filter for making decisions. Demonstrate what it looks like in action in broad applications so that people can understand how it can apply to their particular role.

There is perhaps no greater tragedy for a consumer or employee than to get excited by what a company promises, only to walk out of an experience with that company saying, “That’s not what they said it would be”. The disconnect is a challenge that is hard to overcome.

To avoid this authenticity gap, be intentional in the promises you make and then work in every corner of the organization to ensure the experience delivers.


Written while listening to The Fruitful Darkness by Trevor Hall.

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