This article provides a practical explanation of Brand Essence Wheel. After reading, you will understand the basics of this powerful branding tool.
What is the Brand Essence Wheel?
On the consumer market, companies generally try to distinguish themselves at brand level. For example, why do Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola have different target groups? How come an attractive pair of sneakers from an unknown brand (often many times cheaper) cannot compete with well-known brands such as Adidas and Nike? The consumer market is all about emotional connections to brands and the ‘feeling‘ a certain product gives the consumer. This psychological approach can be summarised in the so-called Brand Essence Wheel, which helps companies create and define their brand identity. It is an excellent way to safeguard their product and brand and permanently differentiate themselves from competitors. The Brand Essence Wheel is the emotional heart of any brand, summarised in a few words.
A Brand Essence Wheel generally consists of three rings, each with different categories. Physically speaking, it can be subdivided into an outer, middle, and inner ring. The outer ring contains general characteristics of the brand. Moving further inward, the deeper essences of the brand and its values are exposed. In other words, the rings move from surface-level to details and intrinsic value. Starting from the outer ring, the brand’s core mission gradually becomes clearer. Certain questions may be used to describe the rings. Below is also an overview of the various categories that are situated within the three rings.
The outer ring focuses on external characteristics that define the brand and ensure consumer recognition. It includes the general attributes and benefits of the product:
The outer ring of the Brand Essence Wheel is characterised by surface-level facts about a company. For example, consider the size of the market share, number of products sold in the last year, and specific mentions by consumer associations or other organisations. The composition of the product and its pure characteristics also fall under the attributes. All these aspects are verifiable and objective.
The product’s advantages are linked to the ways in which it may benefit the customer. This approach isn’t entirely objective, however, because the producer generally offers the customer the most substantial benefits. The advantages appeal to the deeper needs and wishes of the customer. Because there is a link with the product’s characteristics, it remains verifiable.
The middle ring addresses the facts about the brand in greater depth and is characterised by symbols associated with the brand. For example, think of a logo, font, specific recognisable colour, or a different metaphor that makes the brand or product stand out. The middle ring includes the values a product entails for the consumer and the so-called personality the product emanates.
By examining which logos, images, and advertisements have been used in recent years, the values and outward characteristics of a product and brand become more clear. After all, these values are often effectively used to promote the product or brand to the outside world. They reflect what a company and brand want to stand for.
The brand personality is not only included in the description of all product characteristics. It is also about the ways in which consumers respond to a brand and the reasons why they are attracted to it. To discover the brand personality, a company can ask the following questions:
- How does the product or brand affect the customer?
- How can the customer best describe the product?
- What does the customer look like when using the product?
- What does the customer feel like when using the brand?
These types of questions closely consider the customer’s emotions. It is closely linked to the brand promise. People are social beings and consider the general group opinion to be important. This is precisely what the brand personality is all about. It focuses on the psychological and emotional advantages of the brand and the image it evokes in others. For example, this is the reason why famous Louis Vuitton bags or Adidas sports shoes invoke a certain value among consumers. Consumers communicate to their immediate environment what they stand for with the products they buy. This is also referred to as emblem communication.
At the core of the Brand Essence Wheel lies the true brand promise; the brand essence that is often summarised in one catchy sentence or slogan. A simple definition can tell the consumer what the brand stands for. In many cases, strong slogans remain in consumers’ collective memory for many years. Examples are ‘AEG will not let you down’ and ‘America runs on Dunkin’. These simple slogans contain the very essence of these brands. This essence can be discovered by considering how the purpose of the company, product, or brand can be summarised, so that the customers know exactly how the brand will benefit them.
Brands are more than just product names. A good brand ensures customers become emotionally attached and loyal to the brand. They will continue purchasing their preferred brand, despite the fact that competing brands may be cheaper. This emotional bond strengthens the brand further, and is hidden in the Brand Essence Wheel’s three rings. As long as companies are aware of this bond, they will be better able to protect themselves against fierce competition. It is all about the emotional bond consumers have with the brand, and therefore their loyalty. However, at the same time, companies must do everything they can to continue promoting their brands in the most consistent way possible. For example, a different message on the Facebook page compared to the website creates discrepancies that confuse consumers about the brand and product. Creating a brand is one thing, maintaining a strong market position is another. It requires hard work and constant dedication.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Are you familiar with the Brand Essence Wheel? How do you define the brand identity within your organisation? How do you think you’ll be able to use this Brand Essence Wheel? Do you have any tips or additional comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Aaker, D. A., & Joachimsthaler, E. (2012). Brand leadership. Simon and Schuster.
- Balmer, J. M. (2008). Identity based views of the corporation: Insights from corporate identity, organisational identity, social identity, visual identity, corporate brand identity and corporate image. European Journal of Marketing, 42(9/10), 879-906.
- Wheeler, A. (2017). Designing brand identity: an essential guide for the whole branding team. John Wiley & Sons.
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