Brand Essence: Definition, Importance, Examples & More
Updated: May 13
Discover in this article why brand essence is at the heart of a brand from what it is, it's importance, examples to the key characteristics and tips in creating brand essence.
Table of contents:
What is brand essence?
Brand essence is the heart and spirit of the brand that forms the basis of the validity and consistency in which the brand is portrayed and connects with consumers at an emotional level, stemming from strong functional benefits e.g., quality and safety of a car brand. Brand essence guides the identity of the brand at various levels from values to marketing material to influence consumers emotional attachment to the brand (feelings, views and attitudes) and helps to define what the brand promise is.
In order words brand essence is the DNA of the brand, which are the intangibles and not the rational benefits that customers gain from using the brand and where this essence is normally captured in 3 or 4 words. It is something that should be encouraged to formulate for a brand to become a powerful source of inspiration for all involved without being too restrictive if there is a need to change the strategy.
Importance of brand essence
The following are 3 vital reasons why brand essence is so important for a brand:
1. Establishes trust and emotional connection with the brand
As brand essence draws on the emotional benefits that consumers derive from interacting with the brand in the way it makes them feel such as feeling safe or comfortable rather than the actual functional use even though the emotion is drawn from it, this can establish a strong emotional connection and helps build trust if the customer experiences have been favourable.
For example, Apple has a large core audience that follows their latest product releases due to its innovation and design in previous years, which is in line with their tagline of “Think differently”.
Consumers are more likely to trust the brand even if the product is not the greatest due to previous positive interactions with the brand. Therefore, it gives a brand a good step up in which to grow and expand their message.
2. Direct and inspire brand direction
Brand essence provides direction for all other elements of the branding and marketing communications to be consistent as well as everyone involved with the business being aware of the values of the brand. Otherwise, it could lead to confusion and your message and offerings can all go in all sorts of different directions, so your audience does not know what your brand stands for. This is where brand essence brings guidance and consistency in all that is done for the brand such as mission statements, straplines, logos and advertising campaigns.
Also brand essence is a source of inspiration for all stakeholders of the business in knowing the purpose of the brand and doing all they can in presenting these values to their target audience.
3. Highlight your key advantage over competitors
Brand essence will allow you to focus in what your brand offers and who to target, otherwise it’s far too broad if there is no focus and you’re reaching out to a wide mass audience where many of whom your brand is likely to be irrelevant to, so money, time and other resources get wasted and will be harmful to your business. This could be responsible and sustainable as you have with Patagonia or reliable and precise as you have with Breitling.
In knowing what sets your brand apart from your competitors and conveying this to your target audience who understands that is key. These are the kind of things that consumers associate with your brand, so learn more about this in the brand association post.
Examples of brand essence
Below are 5 great examples of brand essence of well-known brands.
1. Google: “Organize the world’s information and make it more accessible and useful”
Google brand essence was to organize the world’s information and make it more accessible and useful, so everyone within the organisation has a clear idea of the company’s strategy in which focus their work around whether that be the mail application, Google docs or the mapping application. Although the brand essence will need to be altered, where they are expanding into other markets such as smartphones, laptops or self-driving cars.
2. Apple: “Empowering people through technology”
Apple’s brand essence is broader than the previous example where the brand seeks to empower people through technology meaning that all their products should have this principle in mind. Thus, providing clear direction to employees to create products that meet this requirement. There are many taglines used by Apple but this is the brand’s main focus.
3. BMW: “Provide sheer driving pleasure”
The feeling of driving a quality car that performs well and is comfortable to drive is BMW’s brand essence of providing sheer driving pleasure to all its customers. This is what BMW strives for in providing pleasurable driving experience for its customers as well as the service they provide. While competitors like Mercedes go for other things like status.
4. Disney (theme parks): “Magical family fun”
The aim of Disney via its theme parks is to provide a magical experience in creating an environment where people can lose themselves away from the real-world and have fun, this is Disney’s brand essence in providing a magical family fun experience.
Note the brand essence is different for brands that Disney bought like Marvel or the Star Wars franchise, which are kept apart.
5. Adidas: “Relentless”
The brand essence for Adidas is being relentless, which is all about pushing the boundaries and meeting challenges in reaching your goals and targets, whether that is training or playing a sport. Therefore, they provide the apparel and footwear to help their customers attain their goals for all types challenges.
Key elements of brand essence
There are a number of characteristics that makes up essence of the brand, below are the 7 main elements of how brand essence should be:
1. Relevant to your target audience
This should be emotion and sentiment that is relevant and desirable to your target audience, which they feel is important to them rather than everyone such as revision tools in boosting the confidence of students to understand and know the topics they are being tested on.
2. Memorable to capture your audience’s attention
Having the brand essence in a short and punchy way that is limited to up to 3 words is far more likely to capture your audience’s attention in which it will be memorable to them. So, your audience will be able to identify with your brand straight away with intangibles (emotions) whenever they come across it.
3. Unique and distinctive to the brand
The brand essence should be unique and distinctive to the brand to make it stand out in the marketplace and help to form its own brand identity, which are different to their competitors.
4. Single minded focus rather than concentrating on multiple areas
There should be single minded focus on what mainly drives the brand instead of covering different areas. It should be the soul of the brand that you need to focus on.
5. Authentic to the brand
Authenticity is crucial in building trust, that combines what is important to your brand and customers and you are able to back it up, so it is believable. Otherwise, you are making wild claims such as saying your brand is dependable without being able to prove it.
6. Consistency at every customer interaction with the brand
Consistency is key to brand essence, so this should be expressed and relayed at every brand touchpoint where your brand comes into contact with your target audience. This all helps to make your brand stand out from your competitors.
7. Ever green to stand the test of time
The core essence of the brand should not just be for the present but also for the future as well. Therefore, it should be strong, durable and sustainable to last even if other things change.
Top tips in creating or improving brand essence
Below are some top tips to keep in mind when creating or looking to improve brand essence:
3 questions to keep in mind when defining brand essence
For those of you who are just getting started, remember there are 3 simple questions when defining your brand essence:
What does your brand do? – unique selling point of your brand.
How does your brand deliver this? - mission, process and uniqueness.
Why should your audience trust your brand? – the story of your brand to build a rapport with your audience.
Ensure it is relatable to your audience
This is to make sure that the audience can relate to your brand and build a connection as well as being functional, so the idea can be applied to all brand communications. Therefore, all touchpoints need to have a personal touch that exemplifies your brand’s message in which to build a rapport with your target audience.
Reinforce your brand essence
In a crowded marketplace, you need to ensure your brand stands out in order for it to become memorable amongst your audience. So, you need to find a less intrusive way that is relaxed and open to effectively reinforce your brand essence rather than applying it to every correspondence you have with a customer.
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