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:


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.


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?


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.


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?

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.

Case Studies

  • Apple Inc.:
    • Attributes: Pioneering technology, sleek design, user-friendly interface.
    • Benefits: Empowering users with innovative products, enhancing lifestyle.
    • Values: Innovation, sustainability, user privacy.
    • Personality: Innovative, creative, visionary.
    • Brand Essence: “Think Different.”
  • Nike:
    • Attributes: High-performance sports gear, iconic swoosh logo.
    • Benefits: Superior athletic performance, confidence, style.
    • Values: Excellence, empowerment, social responsibility.
    • Personality: Energetic, competitive, inspirational.
    • Brand Essence: “Just Do It.”
  • Coca-Cola:
    • Attributes: Iconic red packaging, refreshing taste.
    • Benefits: Enjoyment, refreshment, connection.
    • Values: Happiness, inclusivity, sustainability.
    • Personality: Friendly, joyful, timeless.
    • Brand Essence: “Open Happiness.”
  • Tesla:
    • Attributes: Electric vehicles, cutting-edge technology.
    • Benefits: Sustainable transportation, high performance.
    • Values: Innovation, environmental responsibility, progress.
    • Personality: Visionary, disruptive, forward-thinking.
    • Brand Essence: “Accelerating the World’s Transition to Sustainable Energy.”
  • Starbucks:
    • Attributes: Coffeehouse ambiance, mermaid logo.
    • Benefits: Premium coffee experience, community.
    • Values: Sustainability, ethical sourcing, inclusivity.
    • Personality: Welcoming, social, artisanal.
    • Brand Essence: “To Inspire and Nurture the Human Spirit – One Person, One Cup, and One Neighborhood at a Time.”
  • Disney:
    • Attributes: Magical storytelling, iconic characters.
    • Benefits: Entertainment, joy, nostalgia.
    • Values: Creativity, family, storytelling.
    • Personality: Magical, enchanting, timeless.
    • Brand Essence: “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
  • Amazon:
    • Attributes: Vast online marketplace, Prime membership.
    • Benefits: Convenience, endless selection, fast delivery.
    • Values: Customer-centricity, innovation, efficiency.
    • Personality: Customer-focused, pioneering, ambitious.
    • Brand Essence: “Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History.”
  • Patagonia:
    • Attributes: Outdoor apparel, environmental activism.
    • Benefits: High-quality gear, sustainability, adventure.
    • Values: Environmental stewardship, quality, activism.
    • Personality: Earthy, activist, rugged.
    • Brand Essence: “We’re in Business to Save Our Home Planet.”
  • Google:
    • Attributes: Search engine, colorful logo.
    • Benefits: Access to information, innovation, simplicity.
    • Values: Innovation, accessibility, openness.
    • Personality: Innovative, intelligent, user-friendly.
    • Brand Essence: “Don’t Be Evil” (formerly).
  • Harley-Davidson:
    • Attributes: Iconic motorcycles, distinctive design.
    • Benefits: Freedom, rebellion, camaraderie.
    • Values: Individuality, freedom of expression, tradition.
    • Personality: Rebel, authentic, bold.
    • Brand Essence: “American by Birth. Rebel by Choice.”
  • McDonald’s:
    • Attributes: Fast food, iconic golden arches, consistent taste.
    • Benefits: Quick meals, affordability, familiarity.
    • Values: Consistency, community, family-friendly.
    • Personality: Friendly, accessible, convenient.
    • Brand Essence: “I’m Lovin’ It.”
  • Adidas:
    • Attributes: Sportswear, iconic three stripes logo.
    • Benefits: Athletic performance, style, self-expression.
    • Values: Innovation, diversity, inclusivity.
    • Personality: Energetic, competitive, determined.
    • Brand Essence: “Impossible is Nothing.”
  • BMW:
    • Attributes: Luxury automobiles, iconic kidney grille.
    • Benefits: Driving pleasure, prestige, innovation.
    • Values: Quality, craftsmanship, sustainability.
    • Personality: Elegant, sophisticated, dynamic.
    • Brand Essence: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
  • Netflix:
    • Attributes: Streaming platform, red N logo.
    • Benefits: Entertainment on-demand, variety, binge-watching.
    • Values: Originality, storytelling, user-centricity.
    • Personality: Innovative, immersive, personalized.
    • Brand Essence: “See What’s Next.”
  • Red Bull:
    • Attributes: Energy drink, iconic blue and silver can.
    • Benefits: Energy boost, adventure, focus.
    • Values: Extreme sports, adrenaline, youthfulness.
    • Personality: Exciting, daring, high-energy.
    • Brand Essence: “Gives You Wings.”
  • Ferrari:
    • Attributes: High-performance sports cars, prancing horse logo.
    • Benefits: Exclusivity, speed, Italian craftsmanship.
    • Values: Excellence, passion, heritage.
    • Personality: Elite, passionate, powerful.
    • Brand Essence: “Excellence and Passion.”
  • Airbnb:
    • Attributes: Online travel platform, unique stays.
    • Benefits: Travel experiences, local immersion, affordability.
    • Values: Community, belonging, diversity.
    • Personality: Inclusive, adventurous, sharing.
    • Brand Essence: “Belong Anywhere.”
  • Lululemon Athletica:
    • Attributes: Activewear, distinctive logo.
    • Benefits: Comfort, yoga-inspired, lifestyle.
    • Values: Wellness, sustainability, mindfulness.
    • Personality: Zen, mindful, active.
    • Brand Essence: “Sweat Once a Day.”
  • LEGO:
    • Attributes: Building blocks, iconic bricks.
    • Benefits: Creativity, imagination, learning.
    • Values: Play, creativity, quality.
    • Personality: Playful, constructive, timeless.
    • Brand Essence: “Inspire and Develop the Builders of Tomorrow.”
  • Tiffany & Co.:
    • Attributes: High-end jewelry, iconic blue box.
    • Benefits: Luxury, elegance, romance.
    • Values: Quality, craftsmanship, love.
    • Personality: Sophisticated, timeless, prestigious.
    • Brand Essence: “The World’s Premier Jeweler.”

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.

Key Highlights

  • Brand Essence Wheel: The brand essence wheel is a strategic framework that helps businesses gain a deeper understanding of their brand identity. It serves as a visual representation of key brand elements and serves as a guide to crafting both internal and external brand strategies.
  • Balancing External and Internal Branding: While many businesses focus on projecting a strong external brand image to consumers, internal branding is often overlooked. The brand essence wheel recognizes the significance of aligning the brand’s identity, values, and culture across the entire organization, ensuring that every employee embodies the brand’s essence.
  • Simplification for Employee Understanding: One challenge in internal branding is conveying brand strategy in a way that resonates with employees who may not have a strong marketing background. The brand essence wheel addresses this challenge by breaking down complex brand concepts into more accessible and relatable components.
  • Employee Engagement and Consistency: When employees understand the core values, benefits, and personality traits of the brand through the brand essence wheel, they become more engaged with the organization. This engagement leads to consistent and aligned behaviors that reflect the brand’s external image, thus enhancing customer experiences.
  • Categories of the Brand Essence Wheel:
    • Attributes: These are objective, factual characteristics of the company that can be supported by data. Attributes might include the company’s history, achievements, or unique features.
    • Benefits: What customers gain from the brand’s products or services. This can encompass both tangible benefits (features) and intangible benefits (emotional or psychological outcomes).
    • Values: The core principles and beliefs that the organization upholds. Values guide decision-making and reflect the company’s ethical and cultural identity.
    • Personality: The personality traits that define the brand’s character. This can include traits like innovative, friendly, professional, etc.
    • Brand Essence: The brand’s essence is captured in a succinct slogan, tagline, or descriptor. It encapsulates the brand’s core identity and unique value proposition.
  • Employee Alignment and Empowerment: The brand essence wheel empowers employees by giving them a clear understanding of what the brand stands for. When employees feel aligned with the brand’s values and purpose, they are more likely to take ownership of their roles and contribute to the brand’s success.
  • Consistency Across Operations: The brand essence wheel has practical applications in various operational aspects, including manufacturing, training, human resources, finance, and customer-facing roles. This consistency ensures that every department and employee contributes to maintaining the brand’s image.

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

A brand promise is usually one or two sentences that accurately communicates what a consumer should expect when interacting with a brand. When a business creates a brand promise, it is making a declaration of assurance. Brand promises are often seen as extensions of brand positioning statements that explain why a business exists. A brand promise then tells the consumer how a product is service is better than those of a competitor.

Constructive Disruption

A consumer brand company like Procter & Gamble (P&G) defines “Constructive Disruption” as: a willingness to change, adapt, and create new trends and technologies that will shape our industry for the future. According to P&G, it moves around four pillars: lean innovation, brand building, supply chain, and digitalization & data analytics.

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