One of the fundamental concepts behind creating a brand is that it creates a set of expectations. Creating clear brand expectations, then meeting (and ideally exceeding) these expectations is fundamental if your business is to succeed.

What are brand expectations?

To build a successful brand, you need to show what it is that people can expect when working with you. For example, people who shop at Waitrose do so because they expect a better in-store experience, or expect the food to be better quality. Similarly, people shop at Lidl or Aldi because they expect prices to be lower and to get them more for their money.

Setting clear brand expectations is one of the most important steps when it comes to creating a brand. Creating a brand is so much more than a logo or your colour palette – although these can be indicators to help communicate part of your expectation (for example, a black and gold logo helps to convey an expectation of luxury, whilst a bright and colourful palette may create an expectation of fun).

Your expectation is communicated through everything you put out though – every single touchpoint that your audience might interact with. Whether it’s your logo, colour scheme, language used in your copy or tone of voice.

What is a brand promise?

Your brand promise is essentially the value or experience that your customers or clients can expect to receive, every time they interact with your business. It is the key benefit or differentiator that people can expect to receive when dealing with your business – whether emailing you, buying from you, or even the after-sales experience.

It is part of your brand expectation – the two are often interwoven. For example, John Lewis’ brand promise is that they are never knowingly undersold. This then helps to create the expectation that they treat their customers well, are reasonably priced, but also good products.

How do I create a brand promise or brand expectations?

So many people naturally jump straight to the ‘pretty’ bit of creating a brand – the logo and colour palette. And whilst this is key, there’s a lot of work that needs to go into the background before you can even begin creating your brand.

Creating your brand promise is one of the most important decisions that you need to work through when first creating your brand. Take the time to write down all of the things you want your brand to be associated with, and what you want your brand to convey to your audience. Some examples of brand expectations you might want to think about…

Do you want people to be known for your great value?

Do you want to be known for being the most experienced and offering a higher level of expertise?

Do you want to be known for the high quality of your products?

Do you want to be known for the high level of service you give?

When you’re creating your brand expectations, you need to consider these 3 key things:

  1. What do you want to be known for?
  2. Can you actually deliver these?
  3. Most importantly, are these what will resonate with your audience? What are they looking for?

Keeping these written down, and in a place where you can easily refer back to them when you’re making any business decisions, is one of the key parts of getting your branding foundations in place.

Rachel Overall Coaching - Marketing Plans for Small Businesses

How do I communicate my brand expectations?

Once you have your message sorted, it’s all about getting it seen. This is all comes down to creating an effective marketing strategy. From the channels you use (whether email, social media, your website) to the content you create and share, you need to have a plan about how you communicate your brand message. Implementing a solid marketing plan is not just about being seen – but being seen for the right things, by the right people.

You can weave your brand expectations into your copy – for example on your website and on your social media – talking about what people can expect when working with you.

Another great way is to demonstrate these through testimonials or feedback. People respond well and trust peer-to-peer reviews, so utilising feedback from past clients is a great way of showing what potential new clients or customers could expect from working with you.

Delivering your brand expectations: ‘Brand Expectations vs Reality

It’s all very well talking the talk, but sadly many businesses fail when it comes to walking the walk. Whatever you say you are going to deliver, it is imperative that you ensure the reality lives up to this.

Fundamentally, each and every touchpoint your audience experiences with you is an opportunity to either prove, or disprove, those brand expectations.

The more a company can deliver on their brand promise and expectations, the stronger the brand value in the mind of your clients and consumers. Happy clients will not only be more likely to buy from you again, but also to recommend you to others.

But, if you fail to deliver the expectations, your brand reputation can suffer damage which can be difficult to reverse. If your client suffers a bad experience with your brand, they can quickly look elsewhere. This can be for even something which is seemingly small and trivial – for example if you promise top quality service but take too long to respond to their enquiry, they will instantly lose trust and risk damaging their perceptions of your brand. Mistakes of course do happen – and if this was the case, you may be able to recover things by sending an apology and how you deal with the situation. But by having a plan in place and deciding strict ways that you want to do business, you can do your best to minimise the risk of negative brand experiences.

Want to know more about how to build out your brand expectations? You can drop me a message here to arrange a time to chat!

Or, come join my (free) Facebook group, The Power Brand Project, for more tips on how to grow your brand.

Rachel Overall Coaching - Brand and Marketing Coach & Strategist


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