What’s Your Brand Essence?

Filed as Features on August 24, 2007 9:30 am

You probably think that I’m talking about a perfume; it wouldn’t be an entirely inaccurate association. Why? Because as perfumes are the high profitability lines of fashion designers and houses, the essence is really what remains imprinted in people’s minds as they come into contact with you.

And the best articulation of your brand expresses your essence – the values and voice, as well as how you express that in relationship to readers, potential clients/prospects and the community/blogosphere at large. To break through the pack, you need to discover your brand story, express it at every touch point, and manage it over time.

There are volumes and terrific blogs written about developing a personal brand. The ideas and material at the roots of this post come from work I have done with consultant and brand expert Gerry Lantz, founder of Stories That Work. For an in depth interview (and bonus podcasts) with Gerry, you may link here.

The difference between a generic and a branded statement will mean the jump in quality from one of many to one and only. The good news is that blogs are places where we are already seeing very specific and memorable qualities – in layouts, language, and behavior or way of interacting. In this sense, your blog is more of a 3D medium – use it as such.

Your brand has a story:

It offers an experience along with the product or service you may be offering as an extension of the online presence. That means the sum total of impressions you make and leave on others.

There are values associated with that user experience. Those grow as internalized by your audience and serve the purpose of expressing what the experience means to them.

The story takes on human qualities as users develop their relationship with it, or what it represents to them.

In other words, talk normally.

That would seem like an obvious statement until you dig a bit deeper and consider that all of the opportunities others have to deal with you, to touch and be touched by your story are what I define talk.

For this reason, you will need to dig deeper to:

Shine a light on the specific characteristics that make you a different experience. Are you using language and expressions that are common among your peers or are you finding ways to articulate what you’re about differently? When pressed, what would you say about yourself?

Think of the traits, skills, results, and values that make you stand out. Make a list, keep pushing until you get to what you feel is your core.

Show your human traits. What are your distinguishing traits? Think in terms of reliability, integrity, ability to solve problems, resilience, etc. Brands can make cars sound human so they can appeal to people. For example, I drive a Toyota Camry, that’s because I see myself as reliable. Are you practical? That would be reflected in the brands you purchase and use. The same is true with people as brands.

Recently a colleague told me, “Look, I was in the Air Force, I see the world of operations as leadership, fast decision making, and superb execution. To me that is what work is all about. We figure out what our customers need, how we can get there, and we go do it the best way we can.”

Your essence is the sum total of what you stand for. It goes beyond the perceived benefits of dealing with you and your skills and talent (features). It’s the beginning of a marketing conversation – not to be confused with conversational marketing.

So let’s spend some time in the comments here to talk about you and your brand essence and next post we will take it home by discussing what a marketing conversation is all about.

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  1. By Dan Schawbel posted on August 24, 2007 at 1:09 pm
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    Your brand is divided into four main elements: appearance, personality, competencies and differentiation. The essense of your brand, as you pointed out, is the story that is created from integrating these elements.

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  2. By Carolyn posted on August 24, 2007 at 3:42 pm
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    Showing your brand means showing who you really are, showing your vulnerabilities. Some brands are easier to hide behind. Luckily for me, my story is my brand and my brand is who I am. This way, I don’t have to wonder which “me” I need to be today. Great article.

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  3. By Valeria Maltoni posted on August 24, 2007 at 5:48 pm
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    Dan — thank you for adding your expertise to the post. Story is a very important component of branding. If your story is expansive, then you will be expansive. In other words, it determines attitude.

    Carolyn — that takes us to authenticity. It’s become a buzzword these days, yet it is ever elusive.

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  4. By Steamy Kitchen posted on August 25, 2007 at 8:40 pm
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    What a great post. Branding is so incredibly important – esp for food blogs. There are a gazillion food blogs out there and you want people to remember you for your specific category of food…i.e. baking, french, asian, etc.

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  5. By Nani posted on August 26, 2007 at 5:45 am
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    it is basically the most important chapter of modern marketing!
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  6. By Valeria Maltoni posted on August 26, 2007 at 8:28 am
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    Jaden — I am hungry just looking at the beautiful photographs of food you have at your site. The whole environment there is so joyful! And when I am at your site I know exactly what I am going to experience. Thank you for joining the conversation.

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  7. By dildo posted on August 27, 2007 at 6:02 pm
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    I love photographs!

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