Brand essence, or brand DNA as is sometimes is referred to, is the heart and soul of a brand. It is usually relatively short (no more than 7-8 words) and sums the brand up in an instant. It is often used as the slogan for the brand, or sometimes used as a mantra.
The essence should highlight the unique benefits and values of the brand in relationship to the target market. The brand essence should be defined at the beginning of the brand process. Once the brand essence is defined, it makes it easy for companies to see if their communications are ‘on brand’.
Some examples of famous brands and their essences are:
- Disney: Fun family entertainment
- Nike: Authentic athletic performance
- Starbucks: Rewarding everyday moments
You will notice with these examples, they don’t actually mention the product, but they sum up the brand perfectly.
A big problem with many brands is that they concentrate on the attributes of the business rather than the benefits to customers and the values of their business.
I find the best way to define a brand’s essence is to use a brand pyramid. A brand pyramid breaks the aspects of your brand into various stages – Competition, Attributes, Benefits and Values. Once you have completed those aspects in the pyramid, you can then use the benefits and values to define your brand essence. Below in the slider are examples of a brand pyramid – one empty and one completed.
If you do it correctly, you most probably will discover new things about your business and will make your brand stronger for it. A word of warning, make sure you don’t confuse attributes with benefits.