Brand essence and your brand identity

Brand essence and your brand identity

The most linked piece of information in our organization is brand identification. Your brand essence is the first stage of creating your brand identity, but how do you know your brand essence is good? Learn the five requirements for the assessment of great brand essences. Read positive and bad real-life examples of brand essence. Written to inspire others to develop, evaluate or refine their brand essence and brand identity in the process.

Brand identity – The DNA that defines your business

We knew that, of course, brand identity was significant. We worked for a long time in ads, so duh. But it only reinforced how much brand identity weaves into everything you do as a company. And how relevant it is to your company's growth. But if it is so critical, how much time do you actually spend on the identity of your brand? We're betting, maybe nowhere near as much as you could. When we launched our brand, we did not spend much time on brand identity, and are working hard to correct that now.

We have taken the present situation's quiet time to really focus on fleshing out our own brand identity. Although this post is not about blowing our own trumpet, there are a few items that have been brought to mind by the brand identity process and, in particular, the process of getting to the brand heart, that we wanted to share with those who may at the moment be re-evaluating their own brand identity.

Brand essence – 5 key criteria

The essence of your brand is a brief, snappy statement that runs through everything you do. Sounds straightforward, huh? And yet, it is probably the hardest aspect of your brand building. Because at the same time, it needs to be brief, memorable, significant, distinctive and also unite and bring people together. It's a pretty lumpy old challenge for mere terms.

Short and memorable

Well, despite the fact that it typically has to be written in a small box on whatever onion, diamond, triangle shape you use to write your brand, making it short also makes it easier to remember. We are reminded of the famous quote from Mark Twain, "I did not have time to write a short letter, so instead I wrote a long one"

In getting to the heart of your brand, part of the challenge is that it requires you to make decisions. One of the greatest bits of advice we've ever heard came from a parent who was also an HR boss. She used to tell her kids that you can do anything you want, but you can't do it all. And when you go through the process of identifying the meaning of your brand, you have to write in such a way that the one thing you stand for is chosen. What do you do?

Happiness, if you are Disney. Safety, if you are Volvo. Materialism, if you're Donald Trump.

To be unforgettable then, too, means that you really need to understand how people remember stuff. The nature of one word is amazing, but it can be difficult. Two is all right, as you'll see in the examples below. And three can also work, since three is a convenient way for people to remember things when you say a story, as we've said before. But if your essence is longer than three terms, your essence is likely to be fine, not yet boiled down to your essence.

Relevant and distinctive

There's also more of a creative thinking challenge for one, two, three terms to even then by important and distinctive, well. How do you make the meaning of your brand not sound bland and the same as all others? How do you stop being healthy playing it? One of the challenges is that teams often craft brand essences. Or from commissions. And when individuals come together like that, each individual will appear to have their own personal viewpoint on what the nature of the brand should be.

That implies that for your core, you always end up with a bolted together compromise statement that is supposed to keep internal teams feeling like they have contributed. Where, in fact, the emphasis should be much more on what external communications suggest. That means that you need a way to put things together in a more definitive manner.


Bring a team together by all means to focus on crafting the essence of the brand. But it is important to have a consistent brand owner right at the beginning of the brand identity process when it comes to the final decision. Someone who has both the power to make the decision and responsibility for it. And to make the final decision on brand essence, it should come down to the brand owner.

Some Examples from the Real World

Unavoidably audacious

The first was a brand of premium alcohol that had developed its identity on trust and performance. The nature was "inevitably audacious" (or close enough to it). That's a perfect essence. Inevitable produces a sense of trust or inevitability that produces a very distinctive start to the brand identity when coupled with bold. This set the tone for every production of packaging, every piece of communication, every message sent by that brand for the following few years. The result was a strong growth in revenue. Development of double-digit revenue. Consecutive years running in a row.

Pragmatic opinions

Similarly, another brand of alcohol, but with a somewhat different target audience, defined its essence as "pragmatic views."

It was the kind of brand that older guys would normally drink long at the end of an evening with their friends, and again, it is a great essence for relating back to the target audience, the moment of use, and having a place that was drastically different from what rival brands offered. The result was great revenue success, a unique market place and award-winning communication campaigns.

So good it’s worth talking about – meh?

So, to learn from two positive examples, how about one that wasn't so positive? Ok, again, with some rewording, here's the essence of "so sweet, it's worth talking about," a well-known food brand. See the contrast between the essence of this and the previous two?

Six sentences. They're not small. To be honest, the moment the product was consumed (it was 'healthy' and it was normally consumed with other people) was reasonably important, but is it memorable? Distinguishable? Would any other brand have that essence? Yeah, it could goddamn well, of course. Half a dozen other products that might have that essence would possibly be thought of. That means that it really should have gone back to the drawing board and begun again.

This was a brand that was doing OK, but just limping along with low year on year growth largely fuelled by NPD and price promotions. But the promotional campaigns are bland and forgettable. Some of which did not even contribute to the core of this brand at all. It's been so average, it's not worth worrying about.

Now, you're not guaranteed market growth by providing a brief, unforgettable, appropriate, distinctive and unifying brand essence. But in the end, it is a massively important main step.