Ace Hardware’s Brand Promise Is Its Strongest Marketing Tool


Keeping a promise shows integrity.

That’s true in personal relationships, and it’s equally true for the relationships between brands and their customers. Marketers at home improvement retail chain Ace Hardware say that keeping its brand promise to customers is absolutely critical to their business.

“The goal of a brand promise for a company—and its customers—is really one in the same,” says John Surane, EVP of marketing, merchandising, and sales for Ace Hardware Corporation. “It’s a contract the brand is making with their customers about what kind of experience customers can expect when interacting with the brand.”

Surane says when a brand delivers on that promise, shoppers have a positive customer experience; if the brand does not deliver, it’s a negative one. “The ultimate signal [that a brand has met its promise to shoppers] is the satisfaction of your customers,” he says. The brand promise at Ace Hardware, he explains, is pretty straightforward: Deliver helpful, neighborly service to every customer—every time.

This January the marketing team at Ace Hardware doubled down on its brand promise with the launch of Ace’s Express Delivery program. In this pilot program, customers find the products they need on and, for a nominal fee, have their wares delivered from an Ace Hardware store within 15 miles of their homes, if they’ve ordered by 1 p.m.

The company says about 60% of shoppers in the U.S. live within five miles of their neighborhood Ace Hardware, so marketers are betting that the stores’ favorable positioning will enable the retailer to deliver—at all times. The idea, Surane says, is that the program will accomplish two things: one, attract new customers; and two, bolster the relationship between existing customers with these new services.

Helping you is the most important thing we have to do today.

A photo posted by Ace Hardware (@acehardware) on

So, in effect, the launch is a kind of test; Ace Hardware rolled out the pilot program in only certain markets, at 33 stores from select neighborhoods, and in just a few handpicked states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Texas. During the next few months, Surane and his team will monitor their ability to meet customers’ expectations, and of course, the brand promise. He says Ace’s brand promise to customers is something that his team of marketers is continuously evaluating.

“[The brand promise] is something we challenge ourselves with—constantly,” Surane continues. “A brand promise is not a set-it-and-forget-it thing. It’s something that you need to live up to every minute of every day. The second you don’t, you’re breaking that promise to your customer.”

Flat out, Surane insists that marketers at every brand should carefully consider their promise to customers—one that they, and shoppers, can believe in. “A brand promise needs to be built into the DNA of the brand,” he says. “At Ace, helpful is who we are, so it’s natural that our brand promise is centered on our retailers’ dedication to delivering helpful, neighborly service.”

On a final note, Surane says that he and his team are monitoring the program’s successes—and challenges—to craft future campaigns and strategies.

“We are testing a variety of program components to measure the success of this pilot and determine the best plan for a national rollout,” he says. “We want [shoppers] to leave the store with all the advice and products they were looking for when they began their journey, and our brand promise is meant to be synonymous with this helpful, neighborly type of service.”

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