Your Essence

Your Essence

Big businesses define their brand personality goal in very simple terms, often with a single word called an Essence. They’re then fastidious about how they communicate so that their marketing matches their Essence. The businesses below are all huge corporates, but their brands have strong, relatable personalities.

  • Starbucks’ Essence is traditional. It wants you to think of it as an authentic, local barista when you walk into one of its coffee shops. It sells stability, not coffee.
  • Apple’s Essence is cool. It wants you to think of it as a young, curious inventor when you’re taking a photograph with your iPhone. It sells creativity, not computers.
  • Nike’s Essence is sporty. It wants you to think of it as a challenging, competitive athlete when you see its adverts. It sells success, not clothes.

For reasons of practicality, a small business should equate its brand to the personality of one of the owners. Nobody can copy a brand that is based on one person’s history, experiences, vulnerabilities, personality or relationships.

Write down five words that your Fan Persona would use to describe your personality. This isn’t how you see yourself – it’s how your Fan Persona sees you. To make it easier, here’s a list of 48 words influenced by Aaker’s Brand Personality Model and the Big Five human personality model.

imaginative
tolerant
modest
avant-garde
careful
competitive
polite
glamorous
respectable
peaceful
relaxed
serious
magnetic
warmhearted
sociable
assertive
successful
sincere
rugged
adventurous
responsible
considerate
spirited
sentimental
authentic
elegant
conventional
visionary
creative
reliable
wise
humble
cool
charismatic
loyal
modern
daring
spiritual
down-to-earth
ambitious
helpful
youthful
fashionable
bold
playful
sporty
tough
trustworthy

Now that you’ve chosen five words, we’re going to get even more specific – select just one word from your list of five that represents you more than any of the other words (this is in your Fan Persona’s eyes, remember). This one word is your Essence.

It will dictate the way your business behaves, the products you create, your imagery, logo, design and photography. It will make you stand out and be distinctive. Importantly, it will attract customers that match your Fan Persona’s personality.

Our personalities change depending on the situation we find ourselves in, but your business’s personality mustn’t change or you’ll just confuse people. You can use your Essence to remind yourself that this is how you want your business to be seen by the world, but you can’t force people to see you like that.

Hate me if you have to

Be vigilant with using your Essence – your business will no longer be all things to all people. Many people will strongly dislike it. You shouldn’t take abusive comments as a signal to conform to other people’s expectations: they’re a sign that you’re on the right path. The more your non-fans disapprove of you, your product or your business, the more your fans will love you.

Hate is preferable to indifference.

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