What Is The Brand Essence Wheel? Brand Essence Wheel In A Nutshell

The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

Understanding the brand essence wheel

While most businesses focus on building their brand externally, some fail to recognize that building an internal brand is just as important. For this to occur, every member of the organization needs to understand and embody the brand. In other words, what values, behaviors, or attributes should inform and drive company culture? How can the organization ultimately practice what it preaches?

Some organizations have trouble motivating their employees to act in alignment with their culture. This is because brand strategies use terminology an employee without a marketing background will find difficult to understand.

The brand essence wheel, developed by advertising firm Bates Worldwide Agency, simplifies brand strategy to increase employee comprehension. Each wheel communicates only the most salient information, making the brand story accessible and providing important context. Perhaps most importantly, employees who understand a brand are more likely to adopt behaviors that align with the organization’s outward-facing brand strategy.

As the name suggests, the brand essence wheel should only incorporate information about brand essence, the core values that support it, and its rational and emotional benefits. These details are then used by employees in a range of operations, including manufacturing, training, human resources, finance, and of course any customer-facing role. 

Essential categories of a brand essence wheel

Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories:

  1. Attributes – these constitute objective, surface-level facts about a company backed by verifiable data. These facts may be found in a founding story or list of achievements. They may also comprise the sort of information a company would include on a sell sheet.
  2. Benefits – what do customers gain from interacting with a company? What does a product or service offer that others can’t? Here, it can be helpful to identify tangible points of differentiation. Benefits can also be described in the context of how a brand makes a customer look and feel. Do they appear successful, sophisticated, or affluent? Do they feel excited, spoilt for choice, or highly satisfied?
  3. Values – when an organization talks about what sort of company it wants to be, values are what it celebrates and promotes. These values, as we mentioned earlier, are best exemplified when employee behavior is aligned with how the company is seen by its customers.
  4. Personality – this describes the working style of an organization. What personality traits best exemplify the brand internally? How can recruiting hire candidates with the desired soft skills? Brand personality also encompasses the traits a brand should convey externally. If the company was a person, what kind of person would it be?
  5. Brand essence – or a slogan, tagline, or short descriptor describing the “soul” of a brand and how it is differentiated from other brands. The brand essence must support the information from the other four categories, and vice versa.

Key takeaways:

  • The brand essence wheel is a structured approach to determining the essence of a brand
  • The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. 
  • The brand essence wheel has many iterations, but five key factors give businesses a good starting point. They include attributes, benefits, values, personality, and brand essence.

Connected Business Concepts

Brand Essence

Brand essence is defined as the core characteristic of a brand that elicits an emotional response in consumers. Brand essence is unique to every business, and the most successful businesses use it to create a reliable feeling in their target audience that builds loyalty over time.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is a measure of how familiar a customer is with a brand. The greater the brand awareness a business enjoys, the more its products and services are recognizable to its target audience, thus, in theory, augmenting its long-term strength on the marketplace. Brand awareness is a key element of an effective marketing strategy.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.  

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Brand Promise

Connected Business Frameworks

Economic Moat

Economic or market moats represent long-term business defensibility. Or how long a business can retain its competitive advantage in the marketplace over the years. Warren Buffet who popularized the term “moat” referred to it as a share of mind, opposite to market share, as such it is the characteristic that all valuable brands have.

Circle of Competence

The circle of competence describes a person’s natural competence in an area that matches their skills and abilities. Beyond this imaginary circle are skills and abilities that a person is naturally less competent at. The concept was popularised by Warren Buffett, who argued that investors should only invest in companies they know and understand. However, the circle of competence applies to any topic and indeed any individual.

5 Whys Method

The 5 Whys method is an interrogative problem-solving technique that seeks to understand cause-and-effect relationships. At its core, the technique is used to identify the root cause of a problem by asking the question of why five times. This might unlock new ways to think about a problem and therefore devise a creative solution to solve it.

First-Principle Thinking

First-principles thinking – sometimes called reasoning from first principles – is used to reverse-engineer complex problems and encourage creativity. It involves breaking down problems into basic elements and reassembling them from the ground up. Elon Musk is among the strongest proponents of this way of thinking.

Second-Order Thinking

Second-order thinking is a means of assessing the implications of our decisions by considering future consequences. Second-order thinking is a mental model that considers all future possibilities. It encourages individuals to think outside of the box so that they can prepare for every and any eventuality. It also discourages the tendency for individuals to default to the most obvious choice.

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