Brand essence is the underlying core of a brand. It makes a brand unique and different from its competitors, and it’s essential to building trust with any audience. Brand essence can be hard to define – especially when monitoring your brand’s success in achieving its purpose. But by understanding how it works, you’ll be able to create and maintain consistency between your identity and its audiences’ perceptions of that identity.
What is the brand essence?
- It is the core of your brand. It’s what makes it unique, memorable, and powerful in the mind of consumers.
- Brand essence is the glue that holds together your brand. It unifies and defines all aspects of your branding: visual identity, customer experience; marketing communications; culture and values, etc.
- A single, powerful idea represents everything about a particular organization or person (e.g., Apple’s “Think Different” even though the Brand Essence does not necessarily match the brand’s tagline). Brand Essence drives decision-making across all aspects of a company, such as product development, customer service delivery strategy, and marketing campaigns executed by external agencies. These are just a few areas where you should consider how they align with your Brand Essence.
- The key to building strong brands is having an understanding of their uniqueness to competitors through a clear definition that sets them apart by explaining what differentiates them from others who offer similar products or services – this difference is usually the Brand Essence which acts as an umbrella term for everything else within all aspects relating directly back into this central point – the Brand’s Mantra or Promise.
- The Brand Essence is what consumers associate with a brand. It is their perception of the brand promise. The promise should not be confused with other attributes – which are nonetheless essential to the branding business – but associate the brand with what makes it stand out and what they expect from the brand. Whether your brand is cool or dusty, young or old, red or green, all these perceived characteristics are essential to equity but do not deal with the essence of a brand or its promise.
What does essence mean?
The brand essence is your brand’s core promise of functional and emotional benefits. It’s what makes you different than any other competing brands. The soul is the long-term driver of consumer business: it needs to be relevant and set expectations which the products/ services deliver against.
To a specific extent, the essence also sets expectations for the customer experience at shopping and consumption levels. In a nutshell, it is also a critical driver of repeat purchases: but of course, the promise is just a promise. The product and the experience need to deliver that commitment.
What is the purpose of brand essence?
In a nutshell, it is the brand’s pledge to customers, shoppers, and consumers. It sets expectations for your brand’s delivery regarding functional, emotional, and societal benefits.
It is the driving dimension across all marketing materials: in other words, all assets, branding elements, tone of voice, and visual identity, should work towards building that essence. And the most significant gap between perceived and desired brand essence emerges when marketers fall in love with creative executions that do not support that promise or with promotional activations that focus on irrelevant attributes. Brand essence is what the consumers see, feel and experience in the market, not your brand’s claims or the statement in your positioning framework.
Example: Nike Brand Essence
Nike has been known for decades as an athletic-wear company, so it would make sense that its brand essence is focused on performance and authenticity, would it?
But the truth is that Nike goes far beyond that functional dimension. Like all the best brands in the world, they have solid and deep insights and decline the brand beyond the category’s performance.
The best brands will not build an essence based on the best product, services, or quality.
Nike makes its consumers a promise: we believe in you. You can be an athlete! That’s their promise, and it is clear that you are not necessarily become a pro-sports athlete, but the brand will help you grow to the best possible you.
Nike believes in getting people active but also devotes time and money to research about being healthy and engaged outside of sports. How they approach running marathons or designing shoes could be considered part of their core value because it helps them achieve what they set out to do: create products that make people healthier than when they started wearing them!
Brand Essence vs. Purpose
Brand Purpose is the reason for being of your brand. It’s what you do or how you approach things. A brand purpose is a glue for the organization and is the brand signaling to consumers that it gets it. In this sense, a real Brand Purpose is a higher level of brand essence, more focused on societal than consumer aspects.
In a nutshell, a brand purpose is a type of brand essence, but not all essences fall into the purpose dimension. Another critical difference is that we live in a reality where consumers expect more and more signaling behavior from their brands in such a polarized world. For many brands, signaling behavior has become an essential strategy for connecting with consumers—a way of showing customers that they understand them and their needs better than any other brand could ever hope. The brand purpose plays the signaling card with consumers, whereas brand essence is more direct in setting expectations at both functional and emotional levels.
Monitoring your promise
To ensure that your marketing execution accurately represents your expectation, you must regularly monitor the perceived Brand Essence. Any equity monitor – a type of market research that tracks the development of your marketing efforts – can provide important clues on what the perception of the brand essence is and therefore give a reference point to how well the positioning strategy is executed. On the other end, an equity monitor measures more than just the attributes (e.g., awareness, recall, innovativeness), and the assessment of the essence approximates the characteristics which emerge in the research.
Brand essence is the core idea behind a brand, the keystone of the positioning exercise. It should drive brand adoption and set expectations about the products or services’ performance.