Hub Communications Lab: What Is Brand Essence?

This is the third post in what we intend to make a weekly series, brought to you by the Hub Communications Lab.  The idea is that you have questions about marketing and communications, and other Hub members have access to answers.  Submit your questions to meredith.walters@the-hub.net and then watch this space.   And if you need more info, let us know and maybe we’ll put together a workshop if there’s enough interest!

I hear a lot about the term “brand essence”.  What is it and why is it important?


Brand essence is what your brand intangibly stands for.  It sets you apart from your competition.  It can be described as similar to your own personality – there is just “something” that sets you apart from all the other human beings in the world.  You have developed that essence over time by all of your collective experiences, thoughts and activities.  Your family and friends know what to expect from an interaction with you.

A business’ brand essence is similar.  Except that it must be carefully crafted.  If it is not intentionally developed and managed, it will be co-created by many others who do not have the same vision.  Your customers, vendors and partners need to understand what your company is working towards and it’s your job to make sure they understand your brand essence.

There are many opportunities for conveying this essence.  Your marketing materials, your products, your customer service, your sales reps, even how your employees treat each other and work together or with other organizations.

Think about Virgin America, Southwest and United Airlines.  They are all in the same business of transporting passengers on planes.  Yet they have used price, amenities, advertising, their flight attendants and other elements to communicate how they stand apart.  And you have an understanding for how their brands are different by very emotive qualities.  This is brand essence.

Brand essence is important so that your customers have a way to distinguish your functional products and services apart from the competition.  Your brand essence creates appeal and works toward the cementing of relationships.  By planning for your brand essence, you create a level of consistency that establishes experiential expectations and works on your behalf to build awareness.

Related links: http://www.allaboutbranding.com/index.lasso?article=108, http://www.slideshare.net/IAMurray/brand-essence-in-just-six-words-presentation.

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