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Al Ries Archives - Haloway Consulting
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Discover Your Brand Essence

Discover your brand essence

What is brand essence?

Every strong brand stands for something—one differentiating attribute.

Some call it brand essence. Others call it the brand. Or any of these…

  • SOUL
  • HEART
  • MANTRA
  • PROMISE
  • SIGNATURE STRENGTH
  • CORE STRENGTH
  • CORE ATTRIBUTE
  • DESCRIPTION
  • PERSONALITY
  • DIFFERENTIATOR
  • EXPERIENCE
  • CONNECTION
  • LIFE FORCE
  • UNIQUENESS
  • INDIVIDUALITY
  • MEANING
  • CENTRAL NATURE
  • VALUE PROPOSITION

Why is a core attribute important?

Your brand essence or core attribute gives your audience the primary reason to choose your brand over competitors’ brands. Your brand personality captures what your audience feels when they experience your brand.

Examples of well-known brands:

  • Apple – The Apple essence is innovation.
  • Volvo – The Volvo essence is safety. “Driving a Volvo makes me feel that my family is safe.”
  • Jeep – Their essence is adventurous.
  • Disney – The Disney essence is magic for everyone. “Experience the Magic Kingdom.”
  • Harley-Davidson – Their essence is liberating, freedom and independence – be a rebel.
  •  VISA – Their essence is reliability everywhere.

What is YOUR true brand essence?

 A strong car brand can create significant value in the automotive industry. The price consumers expect to pay for otherwise identical luxury vehicles can vary as much as $4,000, depending on the car’s brand. For mass-market cars, brand helps determine which products a consumer considers buying. Furthermore, superior brands extend their halo across every model of vehicle within the brand. It’s no surprise that most auto manufacturers make brand positioning and development a key item on their marketing agenda.

Volvo = Safety and reliability.

Tesla = Luxury and state-of-the art electric car technology.

Porsche = Sporty performance.

Lamborghini = Exotic luxury performance.

Ries & Ries

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

 A brand becomes stronger… when you narrow its focus.

The bottom line as you brand yourself and your business

Tap into what your audience feels.

Be single-minded. Stand for something and own it. One word to describe your essence is ideal. Maybe two. More than two words indicates that the brand has no focus.

Because a brand (by design) delivers a unique experience, having no focus makes for a weak brand.

Your brand essence must be authentic and credible, or your audience will not believe you. To find out what your audience believes about your brand, ask them. How did people react to your car brand description during the ice-breaker? Did they believe you? Or was it a stretch for them? How hard was it for you to zoom in on the words you chose to describe yourself?

(It’s okay for the brand essence to be aspirational, but only if your audience believes you can deliver on the promise.)

Haloway Consulting brand essence word cloud

Haloway Consulting brand essence word cloud

Build your brand essence

  1. Pick out 3-5 words that you think and feel best describe you and your business. Use a word cloud tool, word sheets or the resources below to collect words that describe your brand. Can you narrow it to one or two words that you can authentically own and defend?

Here are a few resource links to help:

Brand voice test: Do these words pass the sniff test? If people can't tell who's talking when your logo or trademark is covered, then your brand's voice is not distinctive enough.

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