4 Brands That Make a Strong Promise (And How They Keep It!)

2 July 2015 / by Ashley Freeman

What makes your brand special?

A brand is a promise, and the brands that are successful add value by delivering on those promises…every time. A strong brand promise is based on an understanding of peoples values, interests, strengths and personal qualities and using them to distinguish itself from its competition.

Or, showing customers what makes your brand special.

This isn’t a description about what the company can do or provide for a customer, but rather what they promise to be for their customers. It’s more a raison d’être: a demonstration of the brands purpose and how it intends to deliver value to those who interact with it.

And we know that the delivery lies in involved employees…

In our latest blog article, we thought we’d have look at 4 brands that have clearly defined a strong brand promise (and know how to keep it):



Virgin Atlantic


“To be genuine, fun, contemporary and different in everything we do at a reasonable price”


Notice that Virgin Atlantic’s brand promise mentions nothing about planes, travel, holidays or airports? Virgin realised that to set themselves apart from their competitors and maintain the flexibility to break into new businesses, they needed a strong brand identity and promise that transcended the services it provided.

As such, Virgin Atlantic have developed a unique character and identity that defines their brand, their maverick ‘Virginness.’ In the spirit of Richard Branson himself, their brand promises that, whatever they do, they’ll be challenging, adventurous, witty and innovative.

It is a brand promise that delivers consistency but allows the freedom to innovate and adapt to change.

So how to they deliver on such a brand promise?

Well, through their people, of course. Virgin Atlantic are currently rolling out and embedding an employee advocacy program, for example, which will motivate and educate their people to use their own social channels to share brand content & live Virgin Atlantic values:

“We measure extremely high levels of pride in our brand amongst our employees and know that they are keen to share information about Virgin Atlantic through their own networks.”

Viktoria Tegard, Head of Internal Communications at Virgin Atlantic Airways

They recognise the relationship between involvement and the superior customer service their people deliver – and customer experience is the most valuable currency. Involved employees are also more malleable  to change – just the kind of people to deliver on a flexible brand promise like Virgin Atlantic‘s.





“Our central promise at The Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit, and inspire moments of optimism; to create value and make a difference.”


Instead of mentioning soft drinks, Coca-Cola aims to promote a mindset as its brand promise – it promises a lifestyle that is much more to you than just a soft drink. It will not only refresh your palate, but mind, body and spirit. It will not only inspire a sugar-high, but an optimism that will make a difference in the world.

Few companies have set the bar higher…!

Coca-Cola recognises that a diverse, talented and engaged workforce are the bridge between brand promises and customer experience. They leverage a worldwide team rich in diverse people, talent and ideas, with emphasis on creating a great place to work to inspire those people to be the best they can be. They encourage their workforce to be the brand – to inspire creativity, passion, optimism and fun.


“One of our company’s strongest assets is our people and developing a compelling, engaging and fun opportunity for them to be part of our marketing programme right from the start was compelling.”

Joan O’Connor, Head of Brand PR, Coca-Cola


Their 2013 ‘Share-a-Coke’ campaign, an external marketing effort to bring employees closer to customers and enhance brand loyalty, is a fine example. It encouraged Coca Cola Company employees to act as brand ambassadors, demonstrated the democracy at the heart of the brand and enhanced customer experience considerably. The ‘Share-a-Coke’ campaign clearly delivered the ‘moments of optimism’ and spirit refreshment pledged by their brand promise. As our colleague Rachel Miller of All Things IC wrote on her blog:


“I’ve certainly never taken a photo of a bottle of fizzy drink before and even found myself keeping the name labels to put on the pinboard in our kitchen.”



Pret a Manger



Chain sandwich store Pret-A-Manger’s brand promise is simple – passion. Passion in everything they do, passion about their fresh, natural food, passion about their organic coffee and, most of all, passionate staff. They have developed a critical mass of creative, talented and hard-working employees who are passionate and engaged with the company brand.

How else can you deliver on a promise of “Passion” than through your employees?

“at the very heart of Pret’s strategy sits the continued maintenance and development of a culture that fosters staff motivation and engagement.”

Richard Harpham, Pret-a-Manger

Pret place their staff at the centre of company culture and decision making, and hence enjoy a very low team member turnover. Yearly employee engagement surveys consistently place Pret in the top 10% of companies for employee satisfaction. When asked what is it is keeping them smiling through 4am starts, staff frequently reply:

Pret is a company I want to be a part of, because I believe in and share in its values”

Pret encourage employees to live and breathe their values and deliver on their brand promise in the following four ways:

1. Direct & Open Communication – An ‘Open Door’ policy, team briefings and a company newsletter help to share information shows that all voices are being heard, and actions taken.

2. Recognising Talent – Head Office staff carry “Wow!” cards to hand to high-performing team members, top performing shops are rewarded with team social events & individual awards are nominated and handed out among colleagues.

3. Providing the Tools to Progress – Pret encourage development and progression up the career ladder. They hold regular reviews and communicate success stories visibly.

4. Empowerment – Head Office take a ‘hands-off’ approach to operational management, and encourage team members to make their own decisions and pioneer entrepreneurial projects.

Involved, passionate employees living your brand values are the only way to truly deliver on a brand promise. With a workforce engaged through non-monetary incentives, actively delivering the ‘passion’ promised by their brand, Pret-a-Manger is getting it right.

Fitness First

“Whatever you’re aiming for, we’ll help you go further”


Fitness club provider Fitness First understand that customer experience is the leading global currency in today’s business marketplace, the only true way to gain a competitive edge over your rivals. They’ve taken customer experience further than their competitors, though, helping customers to set fitness goals and push for athletic performance. Their entire brand identity and promise is centred on the customer – their goals, aspirations, hopes and dreams.

In the face of competition from budget gyms, Fitness First recognised that their employees were the key to a superior customer experience – its people after all, not machines, which motivate people. They redefined the competencies, skills and behaviours expected at leadership level and improved customer service by recruiting people with the right skills, some even from a non-fitness industry background.

Training and development also takes a huge role in helping Fitness First employees live its brand values. Their ‘Raise the Bar’ training program, for example, focuses on giving staff the knowledge and emotional intelligence to effect high quality interaction and help members achieve their fitness goals.

We could go on and on…we’ll be publishing a brand report in the next couple of months, with detailed analysis of more of the strongest brand promises out there and how their employees are delivering on them. Watch this space…

What does it take to bridge the gap between a brand promise and reality? Customer experience, delivered by involved employees who are living the brand values.

Do you need help involving your employees so that you can keep your (brand) promise? If so, get in touch today.

Thanks for reading! Want to go deeper? Download our 2015 Special Report ‘Are Brands Delivering On Their Promise, Both Inside & Out’ here.