Have you ever bought something from a friend or a family member simply because you wanted to support them? Or have you ever promoted your cousin’s new business venture on your Instagram to help get the word out? If anything, you’ve likely at least seen others doing this on social media.
People are generally more likely to do this for friends and family members, even if they don’t use the product or service themselves, because they have a personal and emotional connection to the people behind the business.
That emotional connection and the desire to promote something because of the people involved in the business is what brand essence is all about.
Branding your business is important, you already know that, but it goes well beyond the graphic design assets such as a logo and brand colors. In today’s consumer world, building true, lasting relationships with your consumer base is integral to continuous success.
We can attest to this at VMG Studios, which has thrived off of our relationships through brand recognition and awareness. In turn, this has brought in a steady flow of client projects. We’ve also seen it with the clients we work with in regard to their mission to connecting with their target audience.
In this article, we’re going to talk about brand essence and why it’s an integral part of any business branding strategy.
What is Brand Essence?
It’s natural to immediately think of a business’s logo and slogan when you hear the word “brand,” but a solid brand is much more than that.
In summary, your brand essence is the core characteristics of your business – your values, what your company stands for, and how you want your customers to feel about your business.
Essentially, it’s the heart and soul of your business. It’s your company’s manifesto. It’s drawing an emotional connection from your target audience.
If you’re still having a hard time envisioning your own company’s brand essence, let’s look at some well-known brands that have it locked down.
- Disney = Magical
- REI = Adventurous and outdoorsy
- Nike = Athletic and inspirational
Often, identifying your brand essence is essentially boiling it down to just one or two words. When someone thinks of your company, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
A good exercise to determine your brand essence is to write down at least 5 words that describe your business. You can then narrow in your focus to just one or two words – the feeling you want your customer base to experience when using your products or services – and tailor the rest of your brand around that feeling.
Why Brand Essence is Important
Consumers no longer just buy from brands for their products or services. Most buyers are more conscious of the people and business practices behind the curtain of their favorite products.
A survey found 94% of customers are likely to show loyalty to a brand that offers complete transparency. Not only that, but 13% of consumers would pay 31 to 50% more for products or services if they were under the impression that your business is making a positive impact on the world.
Cancel culture plays a big role in this. Consumers are increasingly becoming more vocal about a brand’s social responsibility and how a brand conducts business when it comes to politics, equality, diversity, and the environment.
One way to appeal to a consumer base is through building brand trust and loyalty by showing them who you are and what you stand for.
What’s that called again?
How to Market Your Brand Essence
One of the top strategies of building brand awareness and recognition is through consistency. It takes consumers 5 to 7 impressions to remember a brand, meaning it’s important to keep your brand guidelines in mind when it comes to any external-facing marketing materials.
This includes your website, social media posts, email campaigns, marketing videos, and more.
So, what goes into making a brand? VMG has identified 8 main steps to building or revamping your business’s brand.
- Identify your brand’s mission and values
- Identify your target audience
- Differentiate your brand from your competitors
- Identify your brand voice
- Create a visual identity: colors, fonts, logo
- Come up with a slogan or tagline
- Be consistent
- Build trust
The first step, in particular – identify your brand’s mission and values – is where your brand essence is discovered.
From there, you’ll want to convey that “feeling” of your brand in your marketing materials. Marketing videos, such as commercials, are a good way to make an emotional connection with your target audience through the messaging and visual representation.
Take Subaru, for example, whose brand essence includes safety and family.
In this commercial, they focus on both aspects in this powerful 30-second spot.
Videos assist in promoting your voice and messaging to your target audience, but you can still promote your brand essence, particularly your visual identity, in more static assets such as:
- Logos and icons
- One sheet and infographics
- Business cards
- PowerPoint templates
- Email header and footer
This is where your company logo, colors, and fonts can help paint the picture of your brand essence.
Take VMG Studios, for example. Our brand essence is centered around creativity and imagination with a splash of fun. This is apparent in our bright, bold brand colors and clean, yet eye-catching, design.
When someone visits your website, or even your social media channels, you’ll want the design of your pages to speak to your brand essence. Your target audience should immediately get a feel for who you are, even before reading your “about” section, value position, mission statement or values (all of which are still important to include on your website).
Finding Your Brand Essence
Creating a strong brand is becoming increasingly important for businesses as consumers take a company’s social responsibility into account when it comes to their purchasing decisions.
Consumers are more interested in the people behind the brand than ever before, meaning simply slapping your services and a contact form on a website likely isn’t enough to attract your target audience and convert them into paying and returning customers.
Identifying the essence of your brand – your core characteristics of who you are and what you stand for – can help build brand awareness, trust, and ultimately loyalty.
If you’re struggling to come up with your brand essence, simply think about how you want your customers to feel when interacting with your company and your products/services. Find that emotional connection by showing people your company’s heart and soul, and then share it through your marketing materials such as your website, videos, social media channels, graphic design assets, and more.
To get started or building or revamping your brand, download our free worksheet below!