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by Dan O’Day

There is a chain of hotels in England called The Moat House. On two occasions, I have stayed at the one in Harlow, Sussex. (I will now pause while everyone who lives elsewhere in England groans, "Sussex....!")

The last time I was there, I turned on the TV and was greeted with the words:


Followed by:

"Every Moat House delivers every Moat House Promise."

Okay, I'm interested. They are going to make a service promise to me, their customer. That means they are going to present their "brand" to me. I define "brand" two ways:

1. A brand is a promise.


2. A brand is a solution to a problem.

So I'm particularly interested to see them elucidate the Moat House "brand promise."

A series of screens followed, each as half of a two-parter. First they named the promise, then they defined the promise. Here they are....

      - Excuse me? That's a promise?

"THE MOAT HOUSE HOSPITALITY PROMISE" (featuring a cartoon of a smiling chef, wearing a night cap and holding a dinner tray): "Late arrivals still receive a warm welcome."
      - What does that mean? Twenty-four hour Room Service? If so, say that! (Actually, I don't believe they do offer such a service.)

"THE MOAT HOUSE MEETING PROMISE: Meeting every expectation."
      - That's a promise?? How can you promise to meet my every Meeting expectation? And what if you don't meet my expectations?

      - Guess what this "promise" is.      

  • Super-fast hotel check-out?      
  • 100% accurate billing?      
  • Always enough check-out employees to guarantee there's never a long line or long wait?


    Here is their "Check-Out Promise": "Check us out. Any time."

    "THE MOAT HOUSE CUSTOMER RESPONSE PROMISE: Can do." - Can do? What does that mean? Their promise is that they "can" respond?

    "THE MOAT HOUSE TELEPHONE PROMISE" One last chance to Guess the Promise. Is it...      

  • A helpful operator available 24 hours a day?      
  • Free local phone calls?      
  • No hotel surcharge on long distance calls?      
  • All rooms equipped with super-fast Internet connections?


    The Moat House Telephone Promise is..."It's your call."


    1. They go out of their way to attract the guest's attention with a series of Promises...and then they insult the guest by promising absolutely nothing.

    2. Presumably, someone got paid for creating that list of insults.

    Radio Application:

    What is your station's Brand Promise...and do you consistently deliver on that promise?

    If, for example, your Promise is "fun," then is everything related to your station presented in a fun way?

    Is your stationery boring & businesslike...or is it fun?

    Is your on-hold message an advertising pitch...or a fun experience?

    At station events, is every on-site employee dedicated to delivering a fun experience to every attendee?

    Another Radio Application Example:

    The website of a small town Kentucky radio station that bills itself as "the local news authority." Go to their home page, click on "News," and here are the choices you are presented:

    How about local high school sports results?

    Which intersections are getting new traffic lights?

    Highlights of the School Board meeting?

    Police Department Crime Log?

    This "news" page remained untouched for at least six months. The only reason I don't include a link to the site: Mercifully, the entire site has been taken down. (And the station management probably tells everyone, "Yeah, we tried a website, but it wasn't worth the investment.")

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