What is brand essence?
Brand essence is the soul of your Brand’s identity – the core, indispensable qualities that encapsulate what you stand for. It’s something that can be expressed in a compact 3-5 word summary to guide internal practices, differing from a slogan or tagline. It’s what helps your employees share your company’s vision, unifying thought across campaigns. Likewise, it’s the compass point that helps you to gauge whether your marketing strategy and execution aligns with your brand personality.
Every business has a brand essence, even if you’ve never planned one out, and knowing exactly what it is can be a huge benefit for your company. Integrating your management practices with the aims of your brand can motivate staff and stakeholders toward achieving your long term goals. A clearly articulated brand essence leads to focused, like-minded action across your entire business.
The 4 components of brand essence
As with any part of marketing, successfully formulating your brand essence requires a structured, well-thought out approach. As a starting exercise, try to first articulate these four components of your brand:
- What are its best qualities?
- What are its functional and emotional benefits?
- What is its archetype or personality?
- Who is your target market?
The benefits of a defined brand essence
When you think of a strong brand, you think beyond just their product features. This is because these companies project a clear market image through a defined brand essence, something that offers a host of benefits, such as:
- Better targeted marketing – knowing yourself lets you better know your audience. Marketing campaigns will be more effective across every channel if you target them toward customers that sympathise with your brand messaging.
- Long-term customer connection – as corporate social responsibility becomes more scrutinised, the quality of your product or service isn’t the only thing that customers consider. A clear brand essence will keep your actions ‘on-brand’, promoting your genuine motivations with your audience and helping to build sustainable, trusted partnerships.
- Continued consistency – digital trends and media move fast, but if you define your brand essence well, you’ll prevent the rug from being pulled out from under you. Knowing your essential values will keep your messaging on track, regardless of the medium, so your customers never lose sight of your brand.
Brand essence is your company’s North Star
Your brand essence should be visible and guiding you at every step, just like the North Star (or the Southern Cross, for those of us in the lower hemisphere). Whenever you think you’ve veered off course, your brand essence is a fixed point that you can use to right your way again. It’s not something you package and sell to the public – it’s a map for your business to know the right path forward.
How to build your brand essence
A lot has probably happened since you first started your business. You may have tried hundreds of different marketing campaigns or promotions to boost your brand. And, without direction, this has likely pulled you down a number of different paths. The first thing you need to do is take a step back and reevaluate where your business began, and where it’s headed.
Remember, this is about understanding the why. Once you’ve been operating for a while, you’ll have a firm grasp of what you do, but it’s why you do it that’s important. Reconnect with your core, stated objectives – talk to the people within your own company to understand how they see it. Separate yourself from daily objectives and look at holistic goals.
Connecting with your audience is crucial for gaining customer loyalty and growing your business. From a consumer perspective, this means aligning your goals to address pain points and improving experiences. Empathise with what your customers want, then loop all of your marketing objectives back to these points to keep your messaging on-topic for the issues that matter to them.
Crucially, this will also make sure your brand isn’t associated with the wrong things. You want your image to be consistent with the type of service you wish to deliver, and the best way to do this is to focus your brand essence tightly on consumer outcomes.
The earlier you define your brand essence the better, and there’s no better way to fast-track this process than with expert guidance. Consulting specialised marketing agencies can help you to audit your business and capture any details you might otherwise overlook. It is also an effective way to gain deep, well-researched insights into your audience, giving you access to more accurate resources when developing a picture of who your customers are.
9 features of strong brand essence
- Unique – your brand essence must encapsulate what sets you apart from your competitors.
- Intangible – focus on the intangible qualities your brand provides, rather than physical products or services.
- Focus – keep things compact, focusing on the absolute core of your company values.
- Experiential – your brand essence should reflect what it’s like to engage with your business.
- Meaningful – these should be words that can tell a story when spoken to anyone.
- Consistency – your brand essence is the same for every department – it never changes.
- Authentic – it’s what you truly believe in, the vision you founded your company on.
- Sustainable – a brand essence is resilient and reliable, staying with you as things change.
- Scalable – your brand essence should translate across all levels of your business.
Examples of strong brand essence
Coca Cola - Sharing and Happiness
Apple - Think Different
De Beers - Forever
Source: De Beers
Adidas - Relentless
Brand essence is key to your success
Being able to articulate your brand essence at an early stage is critical to your success. Whatever identity you decide upon will become the DNA building blocks of your company, which isn’t something that you can easily swap out if you change your mind. It’s practical to consult with an expert before locking anything in to make sure you’re on the right track.
Spark Interact has worked with businesses of all sizes to optimise their branding strategies and formulate strong, cohesive brand essences. We’re a team of friendly experts, and we’re always happy to support you in getting the most out of your marketing. Drop us a call or email us anytime!