Developing a brand is no easy task, but it is essential for a successful business to thrive. Whether you have recently launched a new business or have an existing brand that is no longer resonating with your audience, you might be looking into updating your brand message.
Brands are often a confusing concept, which are daunting to create and grow. All of us can recognise and understand the importance that a brand has, but the process of creating a brand is often not as clear. Most business owners struggle with knowing where to start when it comes to creating a brand.
There are no defined steps or universally accepted processes for building a brand, and it can be completely different for every business.
For most businesses, the best place to start is with your brand essence. It can help to think of it as the base for your overall brand development. A brand essence can be used as a foundation to build upon over time, and all brand elements are created and developed from it. These brand elements include taglines, logos, brand voice and brand personality, and all of them will be easier to create once a brand essence has been defined.
If you are wondering what a brand essence is, how it can help your business and how to put one into practice, then read on for our expert guide.
What is a brand essence?
Competition is fierce among businesses these days, and that means that companies have to differentiate themselves from the rest. It isn’t enough to just have the most effective products or best prices in order to stand out from the competition. Your business needs to create the right feeling among your customers and have personal, emotional campaigns that really reach your audience.
The best way to achieve this is through the brand essence, which is the core identity of your business. It is what sets you apart from your competitors and makes your business more relatable to customers.
The brand essence is the soul of your brand. Usually, it is just a few words that defines the fundamental nature of your business. Just like with all elements of a brand, the essence needs to be human and emotive. A brand essence is something that must be felt by your audience. Not only that, but a brand essence will help a brand stay succinct and authentic.
It is much easier to build a larger brand when you have a solid and clear brand essence to start with. To help you understand what a brand essence means, think about the following companies and their brand essence;
- Apple: Think Different
- Walt Disney World: Magical
- Volvo: Safety
- Hallmark: Caring Shared
- Airbnb: Belonging
All of these strong brands have used their brand essence as a decision-making tool for every aspect of their business. This is exactly how a successful brand essence should be used. It will resonate across all departments of the organisation, not just in marketing campaigns. Your brand essence should be the driving force behind everything your business does.
What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
A brand essence is sometimes confused with a unique selling proposition or USP, but it is important to understand the difference. A USP refers to any aspect or feature of an object or service, which makes it different from competitors. It highlights the unique benefits that customers will get if they invest in your product over another alternative.
A unique selling proposition is essentially how you would answer the question “what makes your product better than your competitors?”. USPs can be different between different products that your business sells, so you might not just have one USP for your entire company.
These unique selling propositions are used as part of your brand essence. The brand essence for your business is made up of your business goals, your USPs and your core values. The essence gives the USP some depth and goes beyond product features and pricing.
For example, Michelin tyres brand essence might be safety, and their goal is to be the safest tyres on the market. The USP for these tyres could be a combination of the tread pattern and reinforced mesh which creates advanced grip. The majority of customers won’t care about the specific features and aspects that make the tyres safe; they just care that they will be safe on the road.
How does a brand essence help my business?
Creating a brand essence isn’t always an easy task. Putting everything your brand stands for into a few words is often challenging, but very worthwhile. Having a brand essence means that it is easier for both customers and shareholders to see what you are all about.
A good brand essence shows who your business is, what your aims for it are, and what you are doing to stay authentic. Companies with a strong brand will use their brand essence as part of their decision-making process. By doing this, you can create stronger connections with your audience. Here are just a few of the ways a brand essence can help your business;
Build loyalty and commitment
Customers today are more connected than ever. With technology meaning we are continuously connected; customers often have higher expectations than ever before. Price wars and product gimmicks no longer give your business the power to grow. Instead, companies need to build real connections with their audience.
A solid brand essence is what will inspire customers to choose you. When you have a good essence for your brand, customers will start to grow feelings of loyalty and commitment towards it.
Improve marketing messages
Having a brand essence means that you know exactly what is driving your company and what sets you apart from the rest. This can help you to build stronger advertising and marketing campaigns. It is vital that you connect with customers on an emotional level, and your brand essence can help you do exactly that.
Not only that, but brand essence can help you to create campaigns that will help your organisation grow its brand. For example, if your brand essence is ‘modern’, you could use the most up to date technologies within your marketing.
Having a defined brand essence can help every aspect of your business to stay consistent. Within your brand manifesto, you could have a brand promise, mission statements, USPs and more. Your brand essence helps keep everything in line and maintain a consistent identity.
Once you know the elements that make up the soul of your business, you can make cohesive decisions easily. If you are ever not sure about a new product or strategy, your brand essence can help direct you.
How do I figure out my brand’s essence?
Although a brand essence is relatively simple, actually defining one for your business isn’t easy. A successful brand essence will be a balance between the qualities your business already has and the elements that you aspire to have in the future.
Figuring out your unique brand essence takes time and input from various individuals. It is often best to begin by discussing your business guidelines with people from both inside and outside the company. These stakeholders will provide vital insights into how the world currently perceives your brand. In addition to stakeholders, branding experts are great for helping you build a strategy for your business.
Once you know the best people to help figure out your brand essence, there are a few ways you can get started;
Remember humble beginnings
Some businesses have created their brand essence before launching and use it as part of their brand development strategy. For others, creating a website and designing a logo come first, and brand essence gets forgotten. No matter which way round you are doing things for your business, the best place to start when figuring out your brand essence is the beginning.
Think about where your company started and what was the motivation behind it.
Think about perceptions
How other people perceive your business is vital when finding your brand essence. Ask yourself how you would describe your business, and how others would describe it too. These things often don’t go hand in hand, but how others see you is often more important than your own perceptions. Try not to let customers and competitors define your business but take their views into consideration.
Find what makes you different
Your brand essence will refine and define what makes you stand out from your competitors. When figuring out what your essence is, it is vital to look at everything that you can do that your competition can’t. Once you have identified the things that make you different, think about why those differences are important.
How can I express my brand essence?
Once you know what your brand essence is, the next step is to make sure everyone else knows it too. Expressing your brand essence is one of the most important things your company can do. It will define you and grow your identity, building customer loyalty and relatability.
Brand essence goes much further than just your marketing messages; it needs to be expressed in every aspect of the business. Every time you make a business decision, start a new campaign or expand your product offering, make sure you are infusing your brand essence.
Customers are presented with thousands of marketing messages and advertisements every single day. By expressing and reinforcing your brand essence in everything you do, you will be able to connect with your audience. It will help existing customers remember who you are and encourage new customers to emotionally connect with your business.
To successfully express your brand essence, it must be at the forefront of your mind and in everything that you do.
Consistency is key when it comes to expressing and building your brand essence. It should be one of the defining factors of your business, and what makes you stand out from the crowd. To achieve this, it should be expressed in everything that your business says and does.
No matter if you are investing in a new advertising campaign, posting on social media or refining your tone of voice, you need to keep your brand essence in mind.
What is the difference between a brand statement and mission statement?
Many business owners mistake a brand statement for being the same as a mission statement, but in fact, they are two different things. This confusion is justified because both statements are about what your business does; however, their purpose and foundations are different.
A brand statement is externally focused. It is designed to resonate with your audience and hold your business accountable for what it stands for. A mission statement, on the other hand, describes your company from an internal point of view. It is often used to motivate and inspire employees.
Your brand statement is about what you do as a company, how you present yourself to your audience and how your customers feel about you. It encompasses your brand essence and emotionally connects with your customers. Your mission statement emotionally connects employees to the business.
A good mission statement will be a few short sentences that cover the purpose behind your company. It is important not to confuse the two, as it can cause mixed messaging and inconsistent communications which may impact your brand.
How can I put my brand essence into practice?
Having a brand essence is one thing, but it doesn’t mean anything until it has been put into practice. Your brand essence should reflect the purpose behind your business and be behind everything you do. For a brand essence to be successful, everyone in the business needs to know it and use it.
Every member of staff, shareholder and business partner needs to understand, and be passionate about, your brand essence. Every decision that is made in the business, should be made with your brand essence in mind.
Once you know your brand essence, your brand elements can be created to reflect this. Brand elements include your website, your logo and your brand voice. All of these things need to let your brand personality shine through. A good way to start getting your brand essence across is to tell your business story. Let your customers know exactly who you are and what you stand for. Tell your brand story and let people know why they should care about you and your business.
Can I change my brand essence?
Once you have a brand essence in place, changing it is a real challenge. It will be set in people’s minds, and that isn’t an easy thing to adapt. Various aspects of your brand elements can change, such as your website and logo design; however, the essence itself should be timeless.
If you are considering changing your brand because you are in the mood for something new, it can be potentially harmful to your business. However, if your brand essence is very outdated and no longer reflects your business values, then a change might be necessary.
Changing your brand essence isn’t a simple thing, and it will take time and care to do it right. Because your brand essence is in the minds of your customers and audience, you need to gradually change their perceptions of you. It can be difficult to rebuild relationships with consumers when you make major changes to your brand.
Don’t do everything all at once and try to ease your audience into the change. Adapt your logo, your website and even your company name if you need to but plan your rebranding strategy carefully. Make sure your new brand essence is defined and ready to go before you begin making any changes.
Is a brand or mission statement the same as a slogan?
We have already discussed the difference between a brand statement and a mission statement, but another common confusion with these is a slogan. Many people believe that a slogan is the same as a brand statement, but that is not the case.
A slogan is a short sentence that should communicate your businesses ‘why’. It tells customers why they should choose you. Slogans are generally more short term than a mission or brand statement and can be used for specific campaigns or products.
How do I define the audience for my business?
Targeting the right audience is essential for success, but for many businesses, knowing how to define their audience is a struggle. You can target your audience using many different characteristics, usually age, geographic location or personality traits. Defining the audience for your business can be done by looking at the profiles of your existing customers, particularly loyal and repeat customers.
As well as looking at who already enjoys your services and products, consider the problem that your business can fix, and who might have that problem. You want to target people who will benefit from your product or services because it solves a problem in their day to day life. It can help to also look into your competitors and get a feel for the kind of people they are targeting. You will eventually have a defined persona for your target audience, which you can continue to adapt over time.