However, if we changed the word to “reliability”, we would expect a different result. We might see Volkswagen come up more highly for example. This is down to their long term use of the phrase “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen” (see this famous example from the 1990s)
Or if we said “luxurious confidence“, there’s a good chance that Mercedes would be at the top of your list. That’s the essence that they’ve consistently used in all their advertising.
Can you see that as we said each brand here, associations went off in your brain about that brand? That’s the power of a strong brand essence.
The biggest and most famous brands will have a core essence that runs through everything they do. But there’s no reason any other brand can’t follow the same practice and have the same ambition.
Try to be different
Our major watch-out when you work on your brand essence is to make sure your essence is distinctly different from your competitors. Try to avoid generic statements. Many brands might claim their essence is “dare to be different” or “builds confidence” for example, but these are not unique. Your brand essence should be what makes your brand unique.
You can read more about our experiences of brand essences as part of brand identity in this article post where we share some of our favourite examples.
Your brand values are more about the beliefs that your brand has. They govern how your brand operates when faced with opportunities and issues. How it thinks.
They operate in tandem with your brand essence, but are more related to the style of how you make decisions.
There are no hard and fast rules to what your values should be. They’ll depend on the nature of your brand and the category it operates in.
These values might be social or cultural related for example. Companies who make products that are environmentally-friendly or pursue a particular social cause will often include these in the values statement within the brand.
When these values are articulated, they govern and define how you make decisions about the brand. They define the activities that will be carried out.
The values might also be more style oriented. Are there one or two characteristics that you want your brand to stand for? Maybe it’s “fashionable” if you are in the apparel industry? Maybe it’s “taste” if you are in the food industry?
Most brands would have up to three core values. They will build a story around how the three values play off each other and work in harmony.
Again. Try to be different.
Similarly to brand essence, our watch out here is to make sure the combination of values makes your brand unique. Many brands will use “innovative”, “quality” or “customer focussed” for example as their values. But these are quite generic.
It’s worthwhile to spend the time to find more ownable and unique terms. How will your brand be innovative for example? Maybe it’s more “risk taking” or “push boundaries”? These would be more unique ways to express innovation.
How would your brand be better “quality” than competitors? Maybe it’s the ingredients you source? Or the process you follow? Or the training you give staff. But again, push hard to find more ownable ways to express “quality”
The final intangible asset which sits in your brand rules then is your brand personality.
This defines how your brand will do things. And by association what you want consumers to think of how your brand acts.
For example, does it aim to be clever or approachable? Brands that aim to be clever can alienate some people. But brands that are approachable may be seen as a it dumbed-down by others.
Does it aim to be fashionable or traditional? Brands that aim to be fashionable may lose older audiences. But conversely, brands that aim to be more traditional may struggle to attract younger audiences.
Some brands might choose to be more spiritual while others might be more pragmatic and down to earth.
Think about the types of consumers you want to attract. What type of personality traits might appeal to them?
You want to make a connection between YOUR brand personality and the personality profile of your target audience.
Often, these personality options are chosen based on attributes identified during the segmentation and targeting phase. This helps create a good fit between the needs of the target audience and what the brand will stand for.