how to build a brand strategy the ultimate guide: Brand Essence

How To Build a Brand Strategy Essence

Are you struggling to build your brand strategy and rise above the noise of competition?  Do you consistently see other business owners consistently crushing it when it comes to standing out from the crowd?  Do you wonder how businesses like Facebook, Apple, Google, Starbucks, become so huge and so fast?  The secret of their success is each companies’ unique brand strategy.


Let us be real for a second, the facts are grim for your brand…

  • There are over 6.5 Million new businesses are started each year
  • On average there are 5700 tweets per second
  • 144.8 billion emails sent per day
  • 100 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute
  • 2,000,000 blog post wrote daily


Add on top of this, everyone and there mother states they can help you “build your brand.”  Creating a brand is this mythical magic pill, that everyone seems to know they need but cannot explain a definitive strategy to build your brand.  I hate to break it to you but…

Your definition of a brand is wrong.


A brand according to a graphic designers is your logo, typeface, colors, and website.  A Public relations experts will  say your brand is your reputation.


The great brand strategist Marty Neumier states that a “Brand is not your logo, or colors, or product, or even your face it is the emotional and mental feeling the public has when they interact with you and your business.”


brand quote emelina spinelli


A Brand is intangible.

Everything in your organization makes up your brand, affects your brand, and can make or break your brand.

If everything makes up your brand, and your brand is defined by how your customers think and feel about you, than how do you control it?

You can’t. Not completely.


Does this mean to throw up your hands and not care… Absolutely NOT!


The City and Harbor scenario

Imagine if you will, your “brand” is a city on the coast.  Your job is to improve the lives of all the citizens. You task a couple of industrious people to build some docks and do minor fishing.   Maybe even trade with the next village down the coast.


But one storm can destroy your docks and the few fishing vessels.  This will cripple your city!


To increase shipping traffic the city builds a harbor—they build walls to create a calm port.  This port protects the docks and ships.  You dig out shipping lanes so larger ships with more goods can make port.  Then you build a lighthouse to guide ships into port on stormy nights.


Controlling the ocean is impossible, but using ingenuity, natural resources, and understanding the value of a long-term plan turns your once small fishing village into a thriving metropolis!




Look at all the pieces and see how they fit together.

  • The City = brand
  • Mayor = CEO
  • The citizens = customers
  • The workers = employees
  • Fishing and shipping = essence
  • The docks and fishing vessels = infrastructure
  • The harbor walls = companies values
  • The deeper shipping lanes = website/logo and type
  • The lighthouse = marketing efforts
  • The mayor’s vision is to increase jobs and income is the company’s mission/vision
  • The ocean… is the ocean of noise, competition, and limitless distractions.


Building a brand is a long-term strategy.  Measuring a brand takes years not quarters.  A brand allows your employees to become emotionally invested in the goal.  It is like your the coach before a big game, rallying the troops to win!


The Benefits of Branding from Day 1

  1. Save time, money, and resources
  2. Create differentiation for you and your competition
  3. Have motivated employees who create more value for your business

It is that simple.


“Essence” The Brand’s Secret Sauce

The secret to successful brands, they all have an essence.  A brand essence is the distillation of your reputation into one or two words.

This essence flows through your organization like Midi-chlorians flow through a Jedi.  A great essence has very specific guidelines.


brand secret sauce


The Criteria to Build a Great Brand Essence


The essence of a brand has to be unique; it is the differentiating factor from your competition.   Ask yourself, if my competition claimed the same essence as me, would the customer be able to tell the difference?  What would happen if Lamborghini claimed to be “Tough” would customers believe them? How about if Ford claimed to be “exotic”, Henry Ford would roll over in his grave!



Intangible, your brand must invoke an emotional response the stronger the emotion the better.  As I lace up my new Nikes and go for my morning jog, I feel like an Olympic athlete.  I don’t think I will perform better, but absolutely know I will because Nike has said so to me and promised me that I will.



Nike has made its promise to me, and has never wavered in its Single-Minded focus to that promise.  In our city scenario, the mayor never looks to change the focus of the cities direction for growth!



Does your brand essence capture the experience your audience feels? Picture this; it’s a warm summer day the heat beats down on your brow as the pavement radiates the suns blistering heat.  The sweat runs down your cheek, you reach for an ice cold Coca-Cola.  You crack the top and hear the “hiss” of the carbonation, and take that first swig.  The cold drink refreshes you through the core.  Does “refreshing” capture the experience of drinking a Coca-Cola?  Absolutely!



Is being refreshed on a hot summer day something you crave?  Is your essence meaningful for your audience?


Consistently Delivered

Coca-Cola consistently delivery on their promise to refresh us, one bottle at a time.  That promise built a reputation.  Garnering trust of their customers.  This trust can then be leveraged to make sales of a any new brand extensions.  Create your essence and deliver it 100% of the time, nothing less.



Being authentic means being believable.  Does your audience believe you can achieve your essence, even if it is aspirational?



Is your essence infused into every aspect of your organization?  From first touch point to last?  The essence never changes.



If you have a brand extension, a new offering or product can the essence be felt through the extension?  No matter what drink you pick up on that hot summer day, if it is made my Coca-Cola you will be refreshed.


“Branding” is setting up customer expectations, then delivering on those expectations. The best brands in the world go above and beyond expectation of customers, employees, and the world!


In the next article I will give you some exercises to create a brand strategy that will consistently deliver.


If you can sum up your brand into its essence leave a comment, and if you enjoyed this article share it!


Sources: SBA Twitter The Radicati group Youtube blog posts