Unpopular Fact: Why the Under-Promise-Over-Deliver Mindset Is Ruining Companies

Don’t skulk behind fine print. Stand behind your company in big, bold print. Own what you do when you do it. Own what you’ll do when you don’t. There is ample opportunity in both.
— Bill Watkins, Founder of The Lions Pride

For the record, “under-promising” isn’t a thing.

Many businesses have convinced themselves that the “under-promise-over-deliver” mindset will save them from scorn and scrutiny under the guise of the “nice surprise.” 

In reality, under-promising is just a cheap way of convincing the customers to expect less—and it gives you too much wiggle room to make exceptions when you don’t deliver. 

Instead, I challenge you to raise the bar with your business. Don’t set yourself up for an easy win. Set yourself up to stand apart. Come out and say what exactly you’re going to do—and then do it consistently, constantly, and brilliantly. Start with a brand guarantee and end with brand processes that ensure you will meet that expectation.

And if you fail? Own your promise and over-compensate. As Verne Harnish says in Scaling Up, “Make it hurt to break your promise. There should be some pain in your system if you let your customers down.” 

Brands like GEICO, Apple, and Walmart get it. Their branding aligns with their investment in the customer experience and outlines what people should expect with every sale. You know what you’ll get in 15 minutes or less. You know how to “think different.” You know where to shop to “save money and live better.” What these companies offer and what they deliver are one and the same. That’s authenticity, the hallmark of great companies.

Start with a product or service you can stand behind or start over. Otherwise, what are you building?




A Brand Guarantee does two critical things. 

From the outside, it builds trust so prospects become customers faster. 

From the inside, it focuses your team on creating an exceptional experience for its raving fans—and being authentic on the rare times it drops the ball.

To get started, answer these questions as quickly as you can.

  • What is most important to your ideal customer?

  • What does your company do to support that? 

  • What does it do (or what can it do, if you aren’t doing it currently) better than any other company? 

  • What makes that possible?

  • How could you track happy, contented customers? 

  • What would make working with you a no-brainer?

  • If you can’t guarantee a result or an outcome (based on the nature of your business), what can you guarantee with their experience?

Your unique, measurable, game-changing brand guarantee is hidden in your answers. Did you find it? If not, share them with me so I can help


If answering the 10x Your Day questions took you more than a few minutes, it’s time to evaluate your company’s core purpose, core values, and core vision. Find out what happened when one of our 10x Cohort members upped the game with a Brand Promise.

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