Whether you’re the owner of a business, senior management, in marketing or front-line customer service, understanding the core essence of the brand is imperative. Your branding must also be strong enough to translate over to the digital space - which is often interpreted as a volatile landscape.
Brand essence in itself is a concept that can confuse some, so let’s start off with a basic definition:
"A phrase that communicates the fundamental nature of a trade name associated with one or more products made by the same company. A business marketing team will often spend considerable time developing effective ways of expressing the brand essence of their company’s various brands by highlighting the unique benefits provided that pertain to the values of its target subculture."
First, the fundamental nature of the brand is the core reason it exists. You could view essence, as its own culture in a way - the brand’s values, beliefs and emotion. A creative, and where appropriate, interactive website is the number one way to draw in your customers on a more personalised level.
Brand essence is all about customer perception. The intangible thoughts and feelings one has about a brand through exposure and experience.
Why Should I Care?
It is widely documented in consumer behaviour that emotion is the primary reason consumers prefer brand names to generic. This comes down to the perception, thoughts, and feelings that is brand essence. A strong brand will also affect willingness to pay, in the sense that customers will on average pay 20% higher for premium brand names. It’s actually quite simple, strong brand image has a positive correlation with business profits, because;
"Brand loyalty drives up to 70% of all purchase decisions"
There are many criteria for strong brand essence, but the most essential ones really boil down to the fundamental six. Brand essence must be:
The brand itself must concentrate on one single aim. This provides a narrow focus, which in turn strengthens the brand. What is yours? Simplicity? Superior customer service? Latest designs? This single aim must be present and dead obvious to your site visitors; If it's not, then say goodbye to lead conversion and hello to high bounce rates.
The point of differentiation in your brand is your biggest competitive advantage. Sell this unique value proposition to the customer, and really OWN what the brand is offering. Make this known when a customer first enters your site, and make sure your landing pages are just as clear. Get creative, subtly is not key.
Really sell what the customer will FEEL when experiencing your brand, whether it's a good or a service. Paint a picture in their mind, but make sure you keep your promise so that a positive perception becomes a positive reality. In the digital space, this can be done through imagery, video, colours, testimonials and case studies just to name a few.
We all know that consistency is key. If we want repeat purchase and recommendations from customers, then brand essence along with its quality must be consistent. A major challenge, but one that reaps the most reward. All pages of your site need to be consistent with one another, conveying the same message. Clutter is not your friend, keep it simple.
Here we mean longevity. The essence must be designed to last. Logo's may change, even packaging and the name, but the essence needs to stand the test of time. Whether you're using a website, apps, blogs, online advertisements or all of the above, your brand essence needs to be fluid through all mediums presented.
Credibility. Reliability. Trustworthiness. Dependability. Genuineness.
Need I say more about the importance of being authentic? These are serious requirements that people look for when making a purchase. Customers WILL judge your business on the professionalism of your website.
Where Do I Start?
This can be executed via a strong brand positioning strategy, whereby a key point of differentiation is defined. This is then expressed to customers through advertising executions and marketing strategies.
In addition to expressing the brand essence with customers, you must first make sure your entire organisation understands, lives and breathes the brand and what it stands for - from CEO right through to the customer-facing sales team.
Living and Breathing Soul Digital Agency...
Let's be Soulmates.
Our brand essence here at Soul really focuses on being personable, imaginative and playful whilst still being agile, bespoken and of course innovative. Our tagline oozes with personality and trustworthiness. If we were to ask a customer how they felt about the brand, we hope that these words would come to mind. We feel like we've sold our brand in the digital landscape, an essence that it perhaps difficult to portray online, with our awesome creative and technical team. Pssst! We can help you too! ;)
Beware the Common Pitfalls...
Be careful not to cram too much into essence as you might with vision, mission and positioning. Brand essence has a sweet simplicity about it, where less is more. Remember: Single-mindedness.
Another area to be wary of is making promises. Never make a promise that you cannot keep just to seem more impressive, this will only result in the failure of maintaining credibility, our sixth criterion.
Don't take brand essence lightly, many business failures have been linked back to a confused concept or complete lack there of. Google it. Use this opportunity to create an inspiring emotional bond with your target audience.