The Parable of the Popsicle: Promise and Expectations in Branding

We are in the dog days of summer here, folks.  It’s HOT.

Which is why, when I was strolling down the frosty frozen aisles of my local Tar-Jhay, I thought to myself “You know what, self?  We need some popsicles!”

I grabbed one of my favorite flavors – Pineapple.  Yum!

After putting the groceries away at home, I wanted one of those cool treats, so I reached into the freezer for a yummy, sweet Pineapple popsicle.


It was sour.  Super sour.  And bitter.  I mean, it was OFF.  So off, I was left wondering if frozen fruit-flavored water could actually spoil. It was so bad, I couldn’t finish it.

Flash forward to that evening when I reached back into the freezer and realized – lo and behold! – I hadn’t grabbed a box of pineapple popsicles, I had grabbed a box of LEMON popsicles by mistake.

Not willing to let a cool treat go to waste, I grabbed a lemony-delight and went on my merry way.

Let me tell you, that LEMON popsicle was DELICIOUS!  Tangy, tart, refreshing.  Just sour enough with a touch of sweetness.  It was really, really lovely.

Same box, same product, two different reactions.


Promise and perception.

When I thought I had purchased a box of pineapple popsicles, I was EXPECTING pineapple.  When what I got didn’t line up with my expectations, I was sorely disappointed.

BUT, when I thought I was getting a lemon popsicle, I was delighted by the experience – even though the experience was exactly the same as when I thought I was getting pineapple.

It’s the same with our brands.

We as business owners have to manage the expectations of our clients so that their experience aligns with what we’ve promised in a way that delights them.

You know you’re out of alignment if:

  • You struggle to find clients
  • You find yourself giving away your products or services for free…a LOT
  • You break into a cold sweat when someone asks you what you do
  • You change your products, services, and programs frequently
  • You see your competition getting business but you KNOW your offer is better

Here’s the scoop – business that are out of alignment with their promise are businesses that don’t make money.

So, how DO you align your brand?

  • Define and articulate your value and promise to your customers
  • Identify the ideal customer for that promise
  • Create products and services that will delight that ideal customer
  • Build systems that reinforce your promise and deliver you product or service in the way your ideal client EXPECTS to receive them

You know your business is out of alignment when it feels HARD.  When you struggle to fill your programs.  When you consistently lose potential sales because of price.

Aligning your business so that you’re managing your client’s expectations is the key to success.

Be the pineapple popsicle your clients want.


…pssst – did you learn something from this Blog? Share it – Help me teach more people about the importance of branding!