During a Brand Positioning exercise, we find that the concept of a “Brand Essence” is something that a lot of people find the most confusing. That’s understandable (they’re pretty tricky), but we’re happy to help clear things up. Now, let’s backup a minute…

What’s Brand Positioning?

The goal of Brand Positioning is to identify a brand’s distinguishing characteristics and set up a strategy that will ultimately create a memorable, appealing, and unique image within the minds of their target. If 36 is preforming a Brand Positioning for you, we’re learning about what your consumers want, what your capabilities are, what your competitors (or peers) are doing, and understanding what makes you different. Ultimately, we want to communicate your unique value to your audience in a way that appeals to them.

Pretty straight-forward. So what’s a Brand Essence?

One of the products of a 36 Brand Positioning document is a Brand Essence. Essentially (does that count as a pun?), your essence is your brand’s mantra. It’s your reason for being. In a few short words, your brand essence defines what your brand’s purpose is. We’re trying to, succinctly, figure out what your brand is promising people (or businesses) and state it in a way that feels like your brand personality.

That makes sense. So what the confusion is?

The confusion comes from slogans, really. To be honest, your Brand Essence may not be something that anyone outside of your business will ever see. They should experience it, indirectly, in every piece of messaging, visual, and piece of communication that leaves your brand. It’s the inspiration behind slogans (which get replaced over time or at the end of a campaign), but they’re not necessarily meant to be used as one.

If you hop on good, old Google and search for examples of Brand Essences, the one that comes up most often is Nike’s: “Authentic Athletic Performance.” It’s a good example, though, because it’s a brand everyone knows, and because it’s great at illustrating what an essence is used for.

Why is Nike’s essence such a… good fit?

“Authentic Athletic Performance” (which, by the way, was written by the man that came up with the idea of a Brand Mantra) is talking about how Nike is delivering genuine products that will actually work for genuine athletes. They’re about results and they’re about being the real deal. You can see its connection to their slogan, “Just Do It,” in its tone and in its focus. Moreover, you can see how its reflected in the their photography, their ads, the spokespeople they choose, and everything else that comes from their brand.

Hopefully that clears things up!

A Brand Essence can be the hardest part of a Brand Positioning to figure out, but it’s a helpful tool in guiding your brand over a long period of time. Take a look at our case study for Tranquilo to see an example of a Brand Essence we created that really shook things up for them.