DEFINITION OF BRAND ESSENCE
Our definition of brand essence: A succinct articulation—typically three-to-five words—of the core idea(s) around which a brand is built
Other definitions of brand essence from around the web
“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.” – BusinessDictionary (site no longer exists)
“An articulation of the ‘heart and soul’ of the brand. A brand essence is typical three to five short word phrases that capture the core essence or spirit of the brand positioning and the values characterizing the brand. The brand essence is the description which defines a brand and the guiding vision of the brand.” – Martin Roll
“The heart and soul of a brand—a brand’s fundamental nature or quality. Usually stated in two to three words, a brand’s essence is the one constant across product categories and throughout the world.” – Derrick Daye in “The Language of Branding: ‘Brand Essence,’” Branding Strategy Insider
“The heart and soul of your business … Think of it as a tool, often just a few words, for capturing and communicating the conceptual subtleties of your brand. It’s the core characteristic that defines you—an intangible attribute that separates your brand from your competition. … It is the essential feeling evoked in your audience when they hear your brand name.” – Emotive Brand in “Brand Essence Is the Heart and Soul of Your Business“
“What you stand for. Brand Essence is often thought of as your brand DNA, the essential value of your brand, or the ultimate role your brand plays in the world. It’s a critical element of your strategic brand platform because if you want your customers to be clear about what your brand stands for, you must first be.” – Denise Lee Yohn in “What Is Brand Essence – and Brand Essence Exercises“
Examples of brand essence*
- Kia: “A Different Beat” (site has since been updated)
- James Madison University: “Purposeful Lives”
- SUNY: “Designing and leading the future of education”
- Echo Spirits Distilling Company (according to case study by Nonficton, a branding and graphic design agency): “Know Your Distiller”
- Ramboll (an engineering, architecture, and consultancy company in Denmark): “Human Touch”
* Publicly available as of September 2020. Many blog posts about brand essence list examples from big brands like Nike, Starbucks, Visa, FedEx, Disney, and REI. We could not confirm these examples, however.
Definition of brand essence
While branding professionals seem to be aligning around brand essence, many other terms have been used for essentially the same concept. Core idea, big idea, raison d’être, and cause have similar meanings in some contexts. Positioning statement and unique value proposition are sometimes used in similar ways. Don’t get tripped up by jargon or “proprietary” terms used by agencies—if it’s the core idea around which the brand is built, it’s the brand essence.
Visit the branding glossary for definitions of other branding terms. This Definition page will be updated periodically with new content. Please share any suggested additions in the comments section.
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