As the owner of a digital marketing firm, one thing I help businesses with is branding. While this is a normal term and practice for an experienced marketer like myself, I’ve realized that a lot of business owners are in the dark when it comes to branding. For starters, they’re not even sure exactly what it means. Is it the name of my company? My logo? A slogan?

Well, put simply, branding, or your brand, is your promise to the customer. Over the next month, I’m going to cover four different aspects to branding: brand promise, personality, design, and consistency. This article will focus on the brand promise.

When creating a strong brand promise for your company, you first need to make sure you have a clearly articulated vision, mission, and set of values for your business. These will communicate to your customer what they can expect from not only your products and services, but also your employees and the company as a whole. If you don’t have a vision, mission, and set of values in place at your company, then I highly recommend you spend the time necessary to put these in place. This is the starting point for everything else.

The next thing you need to address for your brand promise is the actual promise itself. What are you promising to your customers? What commitment are you making to them and what problem are you solving for them? Is your promise to provide the best customer service? The highest quality products? The lowest prices? These are important questions you need to ask yourself when developing your brand promise.

Finally, once you’ve developed a strong vision, mission, set of values, and promise, then it’s time to choose a powerful unique selling proposition, or USP. Your USP is what makes your company and its products and services unique. Why should customers buy from you instead of your competition? For example, if you own a hair salon, maybe you provide free coffee to all your customers. Whatever it may be, make sure it’s memorable and that it truly is unique.

While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of what branding is, I hope that it will give you some good ideas to get started on creating your own brand promise. Next week, I’ll discuss the brand personality.