Whether offline or online, our preferences when purchasing things rely heavily on certain factors like cost, quality, the manufacturer’s popularity, etc. Although to the oblivious ones, it might appear that having an attractive price tag or a great sales team makes customers stick to a particular brand, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, they play a major part in a customer’s decision-making process when purchasing the said product, but another aspect of a brand is the actual driver of a customer’s interest and willingness to stick to a particular brand. This aspect can be termed the “brand essence” of the company, and as the name implies, it has to do with the core values or the organization’s DNA. In simple words, the brand essence is essentially an intangible attribute of a company responsible in various ways for the feelings evoked in a customer when they interact with the brand.
To understand the importance of a brand’s essence, we need to look at any major organization and related products and ads.
‘Apple’ is a great example of how its essence played such a determining role in the company making huge strides and becoming one of the largest companies in the world. Apple’s essence can be defined in simplicity yet carrying that elegance and quality that completely sets them out from its major competitors. This has helped them build a base of loyal customers who choose to return to the brand repeatedly for their electronic requirements. This tells us that the brand essence is more or less like a company’s soul, which helps the marketers make an emotional connection with the customers and build a strong bond in return.
Importance of Brand Essence
People love a good personality, and it is true for the products people consume. Whether it is a food item, electronic, vehicle, or even the type of entertainment they watch and listen to, people love to make an emotional connection that goes beyond a number on the price tag or the brand’s popularity. And at the juncture of time that we are in, where we are flooded with infinite options to choose from, the significance of having a great brand essence goes a long way in deciding an organization’s marketability and long-term success. Let’s dive a bit deeper into some aspects that will help us understand its significance more clearly.
💡 Generate personalized emails, blog articles, product descriptions, and ads in seconds using the power of A.I
- It helps build an emotional connection with the customers: The essence of any brand helps them communicate its fundamental values and responsibility. This could be achieved with the help of a short phrase or the tagline or even through an advertisement. Although it might not seem obvious, it plays a major role in determining the success of any organization in the long haul. A great example of this would be Starbucks and its practice of having its customers’ names handwritten on their coffee cups. People seem to love it as it creates a sense of bonding, and it looks to have done quite well for Starbucks as well. Having a sense of connection is a key piece in any brand’s marketing strategy, which brings us to the next point of marketing.
- It serves as a strategy for marketing: Although the term brand essence might sound abstract, in all honesty, it goes beyond it as advertisements and marketing activities are executed keeping the brand essence in mind. This usually gives a clear picture of how the end product will look and feel, with its key aspects relying on the heart and soul of the brand. The voice and tone and any other creative attributes are all majorly based on how the company wants to deliver its message to the consumer, and without having an essence, it seems quite difficult if not impossible to achieve this. Please take a look at how a timeless brand like Nike always relies on its idea of inspiration and performance to create meaningful ads and billboards that can be seen on all corners of the globe, and one will understand how a brand’s essence plays such a major role in creating strategies for marketing and branding.
- It helps create consistency in the functionality of a company: For a brand, staying consistent becomes a challenging task due to the continual shifts in cultural and social norms that we go through in this digital age. At a time when strategies have to be regularly altered, keeping in mind the popular trends, having a fundamental idea to build any strategies around it has become more important than ever. Taking the example of Nike again, their newer designs are always making their way into the market with small tweaks or some other type of changes, but it always stayed true to its core ideas of human traits that have to do with inspiration and innovation. This has, of course, paid major dividends for the brand, and it continues to be the largest sports and athletics brand in the world.
- Building a loyal base of customers: A brand cannot sustain its goal of consistent growth without having a solid foundation. Having an emotional bond over values and ideas with the customers can help a brand elevate itself from its competitors. Forming a niche of their own and having a vivid understanding of the type of audience they want to attract can be achieved if the branding revolves around the company’s core ideas. The support of the customers, or some would even call them ‘fans,’ creates a strong foundation for the brand to build its future on.
How to Get Started and Master Brand Essence?
When you create a brand essence, you are arming everyone involved with a common message and idea. A brand cannot survive only on the sales team or depend solely on the advertisement team to perpetuate new ideas. That’s why a brand essence is important in creating a unifying force among the people involved with the brand directly and the customers. Let’s take a look at key aspects that you can implement.
- Identify the brand’s mission and values: The essence of any brand lies in its intrinsic values, and this is where you should initially spend your time. Question yourself what you want to deliver through your product or service and try to fit this into other aspects of the brand. For example, you can convey this through the brand logo, the tagline, and, most importantly, advertisements. This message will serve as a north star for your brand to follow and design its core functions.
- Recognize your ideal user: If you interact with any marketing professional or an advertisement expert, you will get to know that defining the ideal customer is an arduous task for any brand. Multiple questions arise regarding the customer; for instance, understanding different types of users or deciding the future course of action for the current crop of users or the ones the brand wants to work with in the future are questions that require brainstorming and discussion. You could start by asking questions that could help you decipher the customer’s needs and how it relates to the work your brand does. Again, the brand essence comes into play here as this will point you in the direction you need to look at.
- Create a visual identity: Branding materials that include the brand logo, a tagline, and ads are the biggest factors that will help you create the feelings you want to evoke in the customers. Usually, changes in the logos or taglines don’t happen too often, and thus it is crucial to get this right. An approach that would work almost every time is to keep it simple yet elegant with a touch of the message you want to deliver. On the other hand, videos and promotional tools like hoardings can be dealt with with more creativity. Videos can help you bring those feelings alive, and we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. It would not be very reasonable of any brand not to utilize this tool, considering that we live in the age of social media.
- Be consistent: Consistency is pretty much the common theme among all major brands regarding their brand essence. Whether it be KFC, Apple, Nike, or Mercedez, these brands have stuck to their core values for decades, and customers recognize them via these values. If a new brand wants to achieve these heights of success, finding its essence and staying consistent will play a key role in its long-term growth.
- Help your users solve problems: Addressing pain points and providing possible solutions via your products is what I mean by solving problems. Or, if you want to rephrase it, it could also go by inspiring, motivating, innovating, etc. Regardless of your product, customers buy items only if they believe it makes them better, healthier, or smart. Keep the customer as the focus, and with the aid of your brand essence, you can help deliver solutions aligned with the brand values.
Brand Essence Framework
- Keep it relevant: Focus on feelings or attitudes that are currently relevant. As we advance technologically, cultures have also evolved into more accepting and open beliefs, and having an essence that people, young and old, would connect to is far more important now than ever. An example of this is the Kick it Out campaign that was started to eradicate racism and discrimination through football. Although they are not a business and are supported by football’s governing bodies, they have managed to bring much attention to racism which ultimately is something relevant globally.
- Make it memorable: A short and catchy tagline like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ is what people remember easily. KFC’s ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ is another example that has helped make KFC a household name. Although it might not seem too significant, these are the basic ideas that successful brands implement and will continue to do so. Ideally, the focus for any brand should be simple and must resonate with its users.
- Keep it authentic: Do not work on creating an essence that you don’t believe in yourself or something that your brand is incapable of doing. If Apple’s user interface did not align with its slogan of ‘simple yet elegant,’ it most certainly would not have had the same reaction from users. Be true to your own beliefs and everyone involved in the brand, and this is where you will discover the true brand essence you want to build your brand on.
To conclude, I would reiterate that brand essence is about making an emotional connection with customers, both present and future alike. Many factors go into deciding which idea fits your brand, and implementing it is another ballgame. But the basic framework includes a common theme of keeping your essence simple and relatable while being extremely consistent with it. Producing static and audio-visual ads is most certainly the best approach to delivering your message. Although it is rarely an uncomplicated process, it can be done with a balanced approach between creativity and logic.
Take it one step at a time and trust your intuition!
Share your thoughts in the comment section below!