What is Your Brand Essence?

The sweet spot where the unique elements of your brand intersect.

What exactly is a brand essence? I’m glad you asked.

Your brand essence is the sweet spot where the unique elements of your brand intersect. It will be a precise statement pinpointing the core of your brand. It is the shortest, cleanest description of who you are.

The following is an excerpt and adaptation from the book, Bold Brand: The New Rules for Differentiating, Branding, and Marketing Your Professional Services Firm.

Branding and positioning exercises can be great team-building experiences for your senior leadership. It’s exciting to embark on a rebranding process, and it can be energizing for everyone involved. But it will all be a waste of time if you don’t make everyone within the organization aware of your new direction. To keep everyone on the same page, you need some type of document that will serve as a guidepost. When our firm works with a client on a branding initiative, we create a document called a positioning brief.

One of the most valuable tools found in our positioning brief is called the Brand Essence, providing your firm with a single phrase from which you can articulate your position and your brand.

It’s something your team can rally around and test future messaging against. It’s almost like a word compass. Not only is this extremely helpful in developing messaging, but it can also be a great way to visualize your messaging. Are you ready to create your own Brand Essence? Great, let’s get started!

First, picture a giant X. The left leg is your product/service leg, and the right leg is your consumer/audience leg. At the top of the X are your profiles, and at the bottom are the benefits.

Product/Service Profile

Create a short list of the most striking characteristics of your product or services:

  • Museums, monuments, stadiums, and iconographic corporate headquarters design and architecture.

Consumer/audience profile

Think about the general profile of your target audience. Who are they and where are they found:

  • CEOs, trustees, board members, and leaders of visionary and progressive American cities, schools, and enterprises.

Product/service benefits

Explain the key benefit (or benefits) derived from the product or service. Consider what really differentiates your firm:

  • Buildings and spaces that become renowned as icons for a city, school, or place.

Consumer/audience benefits

What benefits are most likely to be felt by your prospective audience? It may help to actually picture a person saying this statement:

  • “This building/monument/space has become synonymous with our city/school/company. People can’t get enough of it and rave that the emotions they feel when they are here have forever enhanced their feelings toward us.”

At the intersection of these legs, you’ll find your Brand sweet spot. From here, you will be able to craft a precise statement that captures the core essence of your brand, i.e., your brand essence statement. It is the shortest, cleanest description of who you are.

When you see it all together, here’s how the brand essence statement using our example would read:

  • Revealing the heart and soul of place.

For many of our clients, the brand essence statement becomes an internal rallying cry, a tagline, or the building block for future voice and messaging exercises. A company’s brand essence is a very personal thing. For this reason, we often consider several alternate brand essence statements. It’s sort of like trying on a shoe—you’ll know the one that fits best and feels most comfortable.

The brand essence chart is a powerful tool that helps firms “visualize” who they really are. In fact, one of our clients recently shared, “We’ve been trying to succinctly state ‘who we are’ for years. We finally have something we can all point to and speak the same language. I love it!”

Do you have a brand essence? Consider doing a full brand audit to uncover your strengths and weaknesses.

  • How would you complete your brand Essence?
  • Which sections seem most challenging?
  • How could visualizing your brand sweet spot help you with other strategic decisions?

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