Ward Alles

We’ve Defined our Brand Promise. Now What?

By Ward Alles on November 26, 2013

The third “D” in our 5-D say it. live it.™ branding process stands for DEVELOP. As in, develop the creative around your brand promise. And develop a launch strategy inside and out.

We’ve already discussed what we do for the Discovery stage and our Define stage. Now, let’s knock down each of these three topics, one by one. Shall we?

[h2] 1. Developing the creative. [/h2]Your branding agency should be more than a bunch of “suits” (strategic counselors) that ask a bunch of probing questions so they can push around paper and charge you consulting fees. Nope! They should be downright creative geniuses when it comes to delivering the goods, i.e. communicating and motivating.

The reason? If success is 1 percent vision and 99 percent execution, then brand planning is the vision part and creative is the execution part. It’s where brand campaigns truly live and die. Your brand launch needs to be:

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  • standout before it’s heard
  • heard before it’s understood
  • understood before it’s bought into
  • and bought into before it’s acted upon.

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The creative delivery of your brand promise needs to appeal to those same two audiences we’ve been talking about since our first blog, i.e. both your customers and your employees.

Of course, no company would ever project less than their best possible professional image to customers, right? By the same token, don’t ever think you can chince when it comes to the quality and care of employee communications. Otherwise the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.develop

Strive to package up your brand promise (inside and out) in a way that is:

  1. True – you can’t dress up a lie in a way that it will stick
  2. Relevant – even great creative will be forgotten if you audience doesn’t care
  3. Clear – 7 words sure should would be nice (yep, there’s 7 in that sentence)
  4. Fresh – if it’s day-old or been there/done that, oy vey!
  5. Durable – will your big idea be a flash in the pan or a flash of brilliance?

[h2] 2. Developing the internal launch strategy [/h2]Note: we start with an internal strategy first. Why? Because if your closest brand fans (supposedly, your employees) aren’t brought in to the loop first – and they’re the ones expected to fulfill the external brand promise, well … that just doesn’t make sense, does it?

And yet, we see it – time and time again – clients anxious to go to market to woo customers without first informing and enlisting employees. Big mistake. Huge.

Our launch strategists map out creative, meaningful ways to:

  1. unveil the brand promise to employees
  2. define brand expectations within their day-to-day roles
  3. train employees on “how to” fulfill the brand promise
  4. hold employees accountable
  5. reward/incent on-brand behavior
  6. support managers in ongoing communication
  7. Etc, etc, etc. (“The King and I” reference not lost on readers 40 and older.)

Does this internal campaign need its own goals, strategies, tactics, budgets, timeline and teams? Yup.

Does this all need to be done right before we “go live” outside your four walls? You bet.

[h2] 3. Developing the external launch strategy [/h2]So finally. Here we are. Where every good brand/marketing manager wants to be, i.e. putting their marcom dollars into image building, lead generation, sales conversion and retention.  Patience has paid off. The ground has been fully tilled and it’s time to plant some seeds.

Exactly how you go about embedding your brand promise into the sub-consciences of your sales channel, biz partners, the media, community, prospects, customers and the like depends on your sales channel, biz partners, the media, community, prospects, customers and the like. The options, as you know, are feeling “limitless” in this day and age of digital, omni-present communication.

Whatever the plan or methodology, rest assured it’s not a love it/leave it effort. It’s ongoing. You’ve got to “bring it” every day.

Same holds true for your internal strategies. You’ve got to keep the gas on.

Your branding firm should identify natural touchpoints within their internal and external launch campaigns to check in, clear up, push out and pull through your brand promise and key sales message so you are consistently and convincingly “saying it and living it.” All the time.

So ends our quick definition of DEVELOP. Happy to explain more if you have specific questions. If not, next up: DEPLOY & DEBRIEF … our final two steps in this year-long branding process.


Ward began his advertising career as a copywriter, working for two of Wisconsin’s leading business-to-business agencies. In 1994, Ward helped form Core Creative with his two partners. At Core, he originally served as an account executive and copywriter. As Core grew, Ward moved on to his current administrative role as president. While he still provides brand consultation and strategy to a handful of accounts directly, his primary goal now is to help guide the agency’s direction and business development efforts. Connect with Ward on LinkedIn or drop him an email at ward@corecreative.com.