How Design Helps Innovators Make, Keep, and Share Their Promise

A Brand is a promise made, a Product is a promise kept, and Marketing is a promise conveyed.

At Giant Shoulders, we believe that a brand is a promise made, a product is a promise kept, and marketing is a promise conveyed. Each component is distinct, yet we experience them together. Because they each shape a customer’s experience with a company, we approach all three as one single design practice. Here are some examples to quickly illustrate our point:

Are you more likely or less likely to fly United after you saw or heard about a passenger violently removed from their aircraft?

How many of your ‘iPhone’ friends made the jump to Samsung when they launch their new flagship phone?

If you are a parent with kids who can drive, which car brand to you most associate with safety? Does Volvo come to mind?

What Molds Our Experience With Brands?

Brand recognition takes time to build, it takes a lot of careful planning, management and execution to disseminate the right messages to the right people at the right time. Trust is earned over time. However, the Internet and social media has short circuited that process. We can hop onto Amazon to read customer reviews and test if marketing messages live up to their promises. We contact brands on social media expecting them to dialogue personally with with us. We google brands to find articles or social media posts that mold our impressions.

When there are so many channels to communicate with your consumers, ways to earn their trust, and build relationships, we must understand what they are looking for. Borrowing the words of leadership speaker and author Simon Sinek, “People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” At Giant Shoulders, we understand brand, product, and marketing as facets of the same promise. The promise is the driving reason for your existence and why you do what you do.

Simply having a promise is not enough. Companies that have compelling and desirable promise are able to transcend their products and even categories. This is the leading reason of why consumers come back to you and share their experiences with their social network. We buy Apple because the brand reflect something about us. We wear Nike because we believe it brings us closer to an athlete. We book stays with AirBnB because we want to feel like a local.

Building Successful Experiences in the Digital World

The promise is especially important in the digital world, because the distance between brand, product, and marketing has shrunk so much that it is practically seamless. For example, you see an ad for a new app that catches your attention on your Facebook feed, you click on the ad that brings you to the app store, you glance the app description and browse the screenshots, and you download it to try it out. What you’ll have done is experience a company’s marketing, product, and brand, all in about a minute. As a consumer, you’ll be, consciously or subconsciously, measuring if the product lives up to the marketing message and the brand promise. Most of us are likely to form an opinion in that time, which will determine if we continue interacting with the company/product.

In today’s world ideas can be easily launched, tested, and scaled. Designing something beautiful or even useful is no longer enough—to succeed, we must build a relationship with the person who wants to experience our promise. That relationship starts with understanding your promise, and design empowers the fusion of your brand and product and marketing into a cohesive, concrete experience—a promise fulfilled.

Tino Chow