Brand essence by every other name

Please note that this post was originally published on July 15, 2009. As a result, any external links or videos used may no longer be functional.

istock_000001711671xsmallIn an effort to brand themselves, marketing consultants have done a disservice to their clients by creating a multitude of words and phrases that describe essentially the same thing — brand essence.

At least, that’s what I call it. You may call it something else.

Some firms have gone so far as to trademark their terms and the processes they use for determination. End result: confusion.

The forerunner of brand essence may have been the Unique Selling Proposition (also Unique Selling Point), a concept developed and named by Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company.

In a post, “The USP: Still unique 50 years on?“, Digby Richards, CEO of Bates 141, argues that the USP is still relevant. He admits, however, that due to the advent of product parity, it has evolved into the Emotional Selling Proposition. ESP is a concept much closer to our common understanding of “brand essence,” as its focus is on the brand’s intangible differentiator.

Here is a collection of words and phrases used to describe what is unique about a brand as perceived by consumers:

  • Brand Soul
  • Brand Heart
  • Brand Mantra
  • Brand Promise
  • Signature Strength
  • Core Strength
  • Core Attribute
  • Brand Description
  • Brand Differentiator
  • Brand Personality
  • Brand Experience
  • Brand Connection
  • Brand Persona
  • Brand’s Life Force
  • The “-ness” of the brand
  • Brand Uniqueness
  • Brand Individuality
  • Brand Meaning
  • Brand’s Central Nature
  • Brand Proposition
  • Brand Essence
  • Brand DNA

What terms can you add to this list?

A note to purists: I admit that there may be shades of difference between some of these terms. You could make a case that brand personality and brand promise, for example, mean two completely different things. My point is that the differences are largely semantical and do little to advance the branding process.

This entry was posted in brand essence, client-agency relationships.

0 Responses to Brand essence by every other name

  1. Brad Snyder says:

    I think the ones I use the most with my clients would have to be Brand Identity and Brand Perception. I’m sure some would say Brand Perception is more about what people perceive the Brand Essence to be than what the Brand Essence actually is, and I’d say that’s the point! If your brand thinks it has a strong essence yet no one holds the same perception of your brand as you do, then your brand doesn’t really have much of an essence… This is why brand analysis is so important and why I love what we do at Perception Metrics.

  2. Kirk says:

    I agree. Essence, by definition, must be perceived by the consumer.

  3. Tim Scorer says:

    For me a brand essence has in the short term to be independent from perception. On launch – you dont really have a choice – you are how you are perceived. I dont think that should stop you from seeing an essence as having an element of destination that your target audience can arrive at over the medium term.