Brand is associated with intangible benefits and experiences that the customer attains by using a product or a service. Brand should not be confused with the trademark, logo or the name of the company. It is actually a collection of thoughts and feelings about the experiences when getting in touch with the product or service.
As the perception of intangibles is in the eye of the beholder, the business is required to know very well who its customers are, in order to be able to successfully position the brand. Depending on the values of each individual, some might ‘’see’’ the intangibles and some might not. For those who do not experience these benefits, the product becomes just a commodity.
Every strong brand has differentiating attributes, which makes it a fierce competitor on the market. This differentiating attribute is also called brand essence, and it communicates the fundamental value of the business. Some marketers perceive it as the emotional heart of the brand.
Brand essence is best stated in one or two words, and it constitutes the measuring stick when comes to evaluating the marketing strategies the business adopted. The brand experience must be integrated at every customer touch point, and here it includes logo, packaging, employee training or corporate culture.
There are nine essential criteria which must not be overlooked when setting a strong brand essence:
- Uniqueness – it is what makes your product/service different from the competitors from the same category. Remember that people make purchasing decisions based on how unique the product is, and not based on how the same it is with other product.
- Intangibility – the customer must feel the benefits.
- Single-minded – use one or maximum two words in which are embedded the core value proposition of the product. More words will depict a weak brand which has no focus.
- Experiential – in the brand essence it should be captured what the customer feels during the experience. Basically, when the customer is experiencing the moment of truth, he should conclude the message the brand essence transmits. For example, Volvo identifies its brand with the word ‘’safe’’, therefore, the customer should conclude something like: ‘’Driving a Volvo makes me feel safe’’.
- Meaningfulness – Make sure that the essence you identify for your brand is relevant for your target audience.
- Consistently delivered – the experience promised in the essence must be delivered every single time when customer interacts with the brand. Delivering consistency is one of the main challenges that your business can face.
- Authentic – an authentic brand is credible, otherwise is rejected by the audience. If the brand essence is aspirational, research upon the audience believes that you will deliver on the promise.
- Sustainable – the essence is durable, and it never changes.
- Scalable – investigate if the essence will resist in the case of growth business.
Brand essence is mostly useful in B2C markets, where the customer becomes emotional at every touchpoint with the brand. A brand which delivers emotional benefits will attract customer loyalty, and the business’ profits will go much higher than without a brand essence.
Nowadays it is getting pretty hard to sustain a sentimental brand, as there are many companies which assault the audience with branding messages. Therefore, it becomes difficult for the individual to ‘’cut through the noise’’. However, through consistently reinforcing the value proposition, a business will successfully manage to position the brand essence in the customer’s mind.