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What Is Your Essence?

What makes you tick? What about you makes other people say “yeah, that’s you.” Is it a certain style? Is it a certain belief? Or is it your accent?

Just as people search for shared meaning among each other, so should brands search for their essence. I know, “essence” is kind of a funny, nebulous word, but it means something for brands.

This recent article from Brand Strategy Insider says it well:

The association of a brand with products in disparate categories often results in the anthropomorphizing of the brand. Thus, brands might be viewed as having a gender, age, social class, as well as personality characteristics. Apple is approachable, Burger King is masculine, and Old Navy is family-oriented. Cartier watches are upscale and Timex is for everybody.”

These types of attributes that consumers assign to brands are important. You won’t shop at a place that you don’t feel (even if subconsciously) aligns with your own attributes. The goal of a successful brand is to find a unifying meaning or brand essence that a majority of the population can align with. That way, you lower your risk of alienation or exclusion of potential customers.

I like the Jenny Craig example the article gave. Jenny Craig isn’t about weight loss, it’s about self esteem. And the more abstract categories you dive into with the brand, the deeper and more resonant the brand essence becomes.

Think about the next time you walk into your favorite store or restaurant and see if you can pick out the “brand essence.” Also, brand essence isn’t only for consumer products. Non-profits, state governments, federal agencies can have a brand essence as well, and it’s up to us as marketers to tap into what makes the most sense for that company and how best to portray it.