How Brand Essence can help build a competitive advantage
Before understanding how Brand Essence can help build a competitive advantage, let us first understand what Brand Essence is.
What is Brand Essence?
A Brand Essence is the only single intangible attribute that distinguishes a brand from competing brands in the audience's perception. Brand Essence is like the soul or DNA of your company. If you know what your company is doing and what your company is all about, it will be easier to get your message across. It is the reliable feeling in the minds of the customers when they interact with your brand. All valuable brands have a distinct core brand essence. Remember the feeling of joy that you get when you use the products of your favorite brand? That is the brand essence of that particular brand. It is the emotional connection that a user feels with the brand in particular and is the heart and soul of the brand.
Why Brand Essence is Important and How to Market it?
One of the top strategies of building brand essence is through consistency. It’s important to keep your brand guidelines in mind when it comes to your marketing strategies and this may include your website, social media posts, email campaigns, marketing videos, and more. It takes consumers at least 8-10 impressions to help them remember a brand and that’s how brands build their brand essence.
Brands and companies usually describe their “essence” within a couple of words. The formula for a brand essence would look something like this:
Brand Essence Examples
What if we were to tell you that the King of Bollywood over the last decade is a Khan, but not the one that you’d think of first?
And the difference is even more stark when you look at the average return per movie:
So what explains this difference in box office returns?
Did the audience expectations change?
Was it a change in the audience composition? (with new, lower-middle class audiences entering)
Did it have something to do with actors’ choice of movies?
There’s probably an element of truth in all of these statements. And that’s an issue for not just film stars but every brand that has an ambition to be successful over decades. How can you plan for success when audience expectations, composition and sometimes even your products are going to be radically different than what they are today?
The answer isn’t found by getting good at prediction, but ironically the reverse. If you can isolate something in your brand that’s unique but also speaks to an unchanging consumer need, you have found the secret pathway through which all iconic brands are formed.
So what then is Brand Essence?
Brand Essence is simply the DNA of the brand. It is at the heart of everything that the brand says and does. It is the constant that gets replicated across products, categories, geographies and decades.
It is the first thing that someone might say to quickly describe the brand in an elevator conversation. For Example: Dettol is all about protection, Disney is all about a Magical World etc.
So how do you create a Brand Essence?
Let’s look at the 6 steps for the Brand DNA for Dove:
Summarizing this, the essence for Dove becomes: “Dove is all about confidence of real beauty”
Which brings us back to the Khans
It was only in 2001 with the breakout success of Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai that his Brand Essence became clear, both for himself and his audience.
Let’s examine the Brand DNA for Amir Khan:
Post 2001, Aamir stayed true to his Essence, becoming highly selective with his choice of movies even as Shah Rukh reigned supreme between 2000-2008. That discipline and sacrifice, while being detrimental in short term revenues, was the key to his spectacular success of the following decade.
In contrast, SRK found his Brand Essence 6 years earlier than Aamir with the success of DDLJ, which led to his rise to the top through movies that built on his essence of being a Romantic Dreamseller. Incidentally, Shah Rukh himself probably recognized that truth, which is why he named his new production company Dreamz Unlimited back in 1997.