Have you ever been delighted by a brand?

Last weekend, my family went camping. We hiked around waterfalls all day Saturday, camped overnight waaay back in the woods and returned Sunday seriously in need of showers and naps. (Such is camping.) It was Father’s Day and the US Open (add Free Beer Delivery and it would have been the trifecta of male excellence), so the husband was happily parked in the den. The kids were wiped out from my slight over exuberance of the days prior, so they were glad to lay around. That left me to handle basic survival elements like laundry, tidying up and hitting the grocery. 

Fast forward to about 4pm, Trader Joes, me in a slightly bleary state. I’ve run a cart full of goodness through checkout. And then I realize my wallet is not in my purse. (It’s in my pack, still in the trunk of the Subaru.)

Well great. I’ve just become that gal. Not gonna lie, I succumbed to momentary mortification-panic because I’m not typically careless and I really didn’t want the five people waiting in line to judge me as such because my mistake was holding them up on a Sunday afternoon.

And then I saw it. That little ApplePay logo on the card reader.

ApplePay! Hey! I have that on my cell phone! I’ve used it to buy stuff on mobile interfaces but never in a store. Could it possibly work like it’s supposed to? I honestly couldn’t muster the confidence that waving my phone in front of a card reader would pay for my groceries, but if there ever was a time to try, it was now. And do you know what happened? It worked. I put my phone near the reader, which then asked for my pin. Beep beep boop boop, I have a cart full of food for the family.

I’ll. Be. Damned. A promise kept.

Back in the Subaru, I did two things. First, I put my wallet back in my purse (duh). Then I recognized my relieved and giddy feeling as delight. Honest to goodness, “I’m so happy right now because something that was supposed to work DID” delight. I was proud of myself and thankful to the genius at Apple who saw stuff like this coming.

Nice story. What’s the lesson for my brand?

In branding – especially in content branding – we talk a lot about creating delight. We think about what makes a brand unique and wonderful. We consider the personas of those people we’re serving and the pain points they need met. We communicate values like saving time, saving money, creating efficiencies and successes. All of those details feed delight, but there are two nuggets you need to remember.

First, delight is simply the wonderful surprise of a promise kept. And second, delight is not ubiquitous. Don’t confuse offering value propositions with creating delight. One feeds the other, but delight is a personal response. You might tee it up, but you can’t force it to happen.


It was so simple. I needed to access my bank account so I could do something so basic as buying groceries. I needed to keep from holding up a bunch of strangers with my ineptitude. I needed not to feel like an idiot. ApplePay met all three of those very basic human needs by being intuitive, secure and connected – and most important – available exactly when and where I needed it.

What promises are you making with your brand? How do you know if they’re the right promises? How do you know if your audience is experiencing delight? 

Just a little food for thought.

(See what I did there? A bit of thinking and entertainment just for you – I hope it was delightful.)