What if it doesn't take a licking and keep on ticking?

The importance of a brand promise, and more importantly, what you do next.

Years ago, in the 50s and 60s, Timex had live demonstrations where they would torture their waterproof Timex watches to demonstrate their resilience. With news commentator John Cameron Swayze as spokesperson, they would subject the watch to a beating from such things as dishwashers, jackhammers, paint mixers, and more. As the watch came out intact, the slogan “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” followed each test. The commercials often were aired on live television.

The commercials branded Timex as the most durable, reliable brand. The toughest watch you can buy. And it paid off in sales, becoming one of the leading retail watch brands. Your Timex watch would withstand almost any real-life wear and tear if it can withstand these punishing tests.

But one time, the test failed. The watch, being strapped to a boat motor, flew off the motor in the live test. The watch may (or may not) have continued ticking, but the licking was its last. The commercial was left without a payoff.

Sometimes, our presentation fails. Our unbreakable glass breaks in the demonstration. If we're really unlucky, sometimes our watch stops ticking.

When you brand yourself as the best value, longest lasting, the cheesiest mac, you’re either instilling confidence in your customer or you’re lying. More importantly, it matters what the customer thinks. Is your brand building trust or sowing doubt?

That's why your brand promise should be the one you can keep. A brand promise is one you'll double down on and never compromise.

If you truly are what you say you are, then don’t be afraid to be tested. That tagline should have something behind it besides a marketing team. If it does, don’t be afraid to have to clean up a mess here and there.

Make sure you stand behind your message. Just like the running shoe company that will exchange your shoe three or four times to stand behind their promise to find you the right shoe for your step. Or the car company that will recall vehicles before they are forced to so they can ensure they meet their own standards.

Brand promises are important.

Sometimes, you fail to meet the standard of your brand, but what you do next shows what your brand really stands for.

Stand for something.

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