What Is A Brand Essence And Why It Matters In Business

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.

Understanding brand essence

Fundamentally, brand essence is the emotional reason behind a consumer choosing one company over another. Since it deals with human emotions, brand essence is intangible. In other words, it is felt

It’s important to note that brand essence is not a company slogan, tagline, or mission statement. By its very definition, brand essence is driven by consumers – it is not something a business can deliberately communicate. 

In the most successful brands, brand essence is described in just a few short words. Here, there is power in brevity.

Consider the following global brands and the characteristic emotions that consumers experience just by thinking about them:

  • Volvo – safety.
  • Disney – magic.
  • Harley Davidson – freedom.
  • BMW – driving pleasure.
  • Apple – simple elegance.

Creating a brand essence

Brand essence is about striking a balance between authenticity and ambition. To gauge the perception of their brand, businesses should seek the input of internal and external stakeholders. Consumers should of course be consulted first and foremost, but employees, clients, and industry peers should also be consulted.

Once the relevant stakeholders have been assembled, they should brainstorm the answers to a list of questions. These include:

  • If the business in question was a car, what make and model would it embody, and why?
  • How does the business perceive itself and does this perception align with those of customers or clients?
  • What does a business contribute to the world and how does this make consumers feel?

With the answers to these questions, stakeholders can further refine brand essence by ensuring that descriptive words are

  • Authentic – does a business deliver on its promises? Brand essence must be in alignment with what the customer experiences.
  • Relevant – is the brand essence statement relevant to the customer? Does it resonate with them to the degree that emotion is felt?
  • Consistent – consistency is key because it informs others of what to expect from a brand. McDonald’s became a powerful global force because its restaurants are consistently branded regardless of the country they operate in.
  • Sustainable – brand essence is a long term strategy. As such, it must be sustainable in the sense that it must maintain relevancy as a business grows. For example, a car manufacturer whose brand essence is “handmade engineering” may run into trouble as they shift toward production line manufacturing to meet growth targets.

Benefits of brand essence to businesses

Increased focus and clarity

Businesses who develop a brand essence are more focused on their core goals and attributes. This enables them to make better decisions and communicate with consumers in a way that reinforces brand recognition and awareness.

Market differentiation

Tying emotions to a particular brand are important in creating meaningful and sustainable differentiation, particularly in oversaturated markets. Apple has not drastically changed the design of their products in many years, but it maintains a competitive advantage through clear and consistent communication of its brand message.

Key takeaways:

  • Brand essence is the reliable feeling that consumers come to expect when interacting with a brand.
  • Brand essence relies on the power of brevity and should be ascertained by consulting internal and external stakeholders.
  • Brand essence must be authentic. That is, it must deliver on its promises and resonate with customers through consistent and sustainable communication.

Connected Marketing Concepts

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

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.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

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