Brand essence, however, is felt.”
These are the words that begin the fourth section in chapter 14 of Brian Solis’ new book, The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution.
Solis, a new media thought leader and author, describes brand essence as something that exists in our hearts—a thought or a feeling, versus a logo or trademark. Solis discusses the importance of defining your brand essence, something I believe is crucial in your inbound marketing efforts, and with good reason.
An article in Science Business reported that American adults created 565,000 new businesses last year. This is the highest level of entrepreneurship seen in over the past 15 years, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. This exemplifies the need for startup companies to ensure their brand essence is defined and has the ability to be communicated across various mediums—otherwise, they’ll simply get lost in all the clutter!
Similarly, companies that have been around for decades need to take the time to reexamine the definition of what their brand essence is. Chances are, your out-of-date brand message can succeed in communicating via outbound methods, but not inbound strategies. And to survive in the era of internet marketing, your brand essence needs to be able to survive communicating on all the new platforms of engagement that have emerged.
Solis provides a “Brand Essence Exercise” to assist your company in establishing what your brand essence truly is. Below are the 9 criteria involved in the Brand Essence Exercise, as described by Solis in his book:
Solis' 9 Criteria for Establishing Brand Essence
1. Focus: Find one or two words that define the brand. Deliver a unique experience, and document what it is you want to evoke.
2. Feeling: Describe what it is you want a consumer to feel when he/she comes into contact with your brand.
3. Individuality: In these communities, brands are people, too, and necessary to stand alone. The key here is uniqueness and charm.
4. Experiential: When a consumer experiences a product or service, what is the encounter eliciting?
5. Consistency: What a brand conveys now and every day. It is also a call to ensure that the brand team is structured in a way that allows it to deliver as promised.
6. Credibility: Aligning the brand essence with experiences and righting the course of engagement and transformation when necessary. (This is discussed further in Chapter 15).
7. Longevity: Is the essence designed to last, something that can stand the test of time, and patient regardless of medium?
8. Personal: Something personal that people aspire to embrace and be a part of; something that speaks to them.
9. Portable: A strong understanding of how emotion is transferable across networks.
The Brand Essence Exercise can help a business of any size define what the true essence—the soul, spirit, and nature—of its brand is. Identifying what this crisp message is will pave the path for seamless customer engagement throughout the various communication stages that have manifested online. (Remember, for your brand to succeed, it must engage with its audiences online. Effectively.)
Defined brand essence = positive online customer engagement = inbound marketing success.
This is only a small exercise in the bigger picture of understanding the new consumer landscape. Solis’ 20-chapter book hit shelves and online bookstores today, focusing on the convoluted information revolution, how it is changing our industry’s future, and what you can do about it. Business As Usual was written for anyone who hopes to comprehend this changing field, or for anyone hoping to truly challenge themselves in helping construct the future of business as usual.
What can you infer from the Brand Essence Exercise? What else can you learn about inbound marketing from Solis’ new book?