Everyone seems to call the short-form description of a brand by different names; brand DNA, big idea, brand essence or shout from the mountain. I keep it simple by calling it the brand idea. Essentially, to win in the marketplace, your brand idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating, and ownable.
When your brand idea is interesting and simple, it helps the brand gain quick entry into the consumer’s mind, so they will want to engage and learn more about the brand. And, with the consumer being bombarded by 5,000 brand messages every day, the brand only has 7-seconds to connect, or else consumers will move on.
When the brand idea is unique and own-able, it stands out from the clutter, and the brand can see enough potential to build their entire business around the idea. As the idea is motivating to consumers, the brand gains an ability to move consumers to see, think, feel, or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. The marketing fundamentals that we show in this article are part of what we use in our marketing training programs.
A brand idea captures consumers while organizing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf
Definition of a brand
A brand is a concise description of an idea that projects the desired reputation for a company, products, or services in ways that benefit a business.
The brand idea projects a consistent promise, tells the brand story, showcases innovation, helps consumers at the purchase moment, and delivers satisfying consumer experiences. Over time, the business can use the brand idea to move consumers to see, think, feel, act, and influence others in ways that build a bond with consumers. The brand idea aligns everyone who works on the front line or behind the scenes, so everyone knows their role in adding value to the brand.
A brand is an investment for the business to create a market impact that commands more power and a performance result that drives more profit.
The marketing fundamentals matter.
The marketing fundamentals that we show in this article are part of what we use in our marketing training programs. And, the material can be found in our Beloved Brands playbook which you can find on Amazon.
We have created a Brand Toolkit that includes every slide you need to run your brand. If you are looking to build out your brand positioning work, you can engage our Brand Positioning presentation template. And, if you are looking to find the right brand positioning on your brand, we do run consulting workshops with teams to help come up with the ideal solution.
Defining your brand
Below are four examples of brand ideas that get your brand down to the seven-second brand pitch. Apple is all about “simplicity” while Intel owns “speed inside” the computer. The Starbucks brand builds “moments of escape” around the coffee routine. Rolex is all about “prestige.”
Use your brand idea to express your inner brand soul
The brand idea must represent the inner brand soul of everyone who works on the brand, inspiring employees to deliver the brand promise and amazing experiences. Finally, the it must be ownable, so no other competitor can infringe on your space, and you can confidently build your brand reputation over time.
Brand idea blueprint
I created a brand idea blueprint with five ideas that surround it.
On the internal brand soul side, describe the products and services, as well as the cultural inspiration, which is the internal rallying cry to everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, define the ideal consumer reputation and the reputation among necessary influencers or partners. The brand role acts as a bridge between the internal and external sides.
- Products and services: First, what is the focused point of difference your products or services can win on because they meet the consumer’s needs and separate your brand from competitors?
- Consumer reputation: Then, what is the desired reputation of your brand, which attracts, excites, engages, and motivates consumers to think, feel, and purchase your brand?
- Cultural inspiration: Next, what is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations, and will inspire, challenge, and guide your culture?
- Influencer reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand, which would make them recommend or partner with your brand?
- Brand role (archetype): Finally, what is the link between the internal sound and the external reputation?
How to find your brand idea
Step 1: Keywords brainstorm for each of the five areas
Start by brainstorming 20-30 words that describe each of the five elements of the brand idea.
Step 2: Turn keywords into key phrases for each of the five areas
Next, get the team to vote to narrow down the list to the best 3-5 words for each section. You will begin to see certain themes and keywords. Take those selected words and build phrases to summarize each section.
Step 3: Summarize it all to create a brand idea
Once you have phrases for all five areas, the team should feel inspired to use their creative energy to come up with the brand idea. Find a summary statement that captures everything around the circle. Try to get a few different options you can test with both consumers and employees.
The brand idea should steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand.
Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery to every consumer touchpoint. Whether people are in management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency, everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions.
With old-school marketing, the brand would advertise on TV to drive awareness and interest, use bright, bold packaging in store with reinforced messages to close the sale. If the product satisfied consumers’ needs, they would repeat and build the brand into their day-to-day routines.
Today’s market is a cluttered mess.
The consumer is bombarded with brand messages all day, and inundated with more information from influencers, friends, experts, critics, and competitors. While the internet makes shopping easier, consumers must now filter out tons of information daily. Moreover, the consumer’s shopping patterns have gone from a simple, linear purchase pattern into complex, cluttered chaos.
Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand. While brands cannot control what order each touchpoint reaches the consumer, they can undoubtedly align each of those touchpoints under the brand idea.
Brand idea map
Use the brand idea to steer everyone who works on the brand
The best brands consistently deliver. Use a cross-functional team, including salespeople, R&D, human resources, finance, and operations. Their participation is one way to gain their buy-in. But that’s not where it stops.
Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition. Get everyone to articulate how their role delivers the idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.
Everyone who works on the brand should use the idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone on your team needs a common understanding of and talking points for the brand.
When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization.
Delivering the brand idea
Use the brand idea to align every media choice
This process allows you to make creative and media decisions together. You will see the ads in context to figure out the best combinations for your brand. Also, you will be able to see the possible breadth of each creative idea, which can provide a clue to the campaign’s longevity. In today’s cluttered media world, the brand idea should help organize all four types of media, including paid, earned, shared, and owned.
Let the brand idea drive the organization culture behind the brand
Your brand idea should steer the internal culture to inspire and steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions. Most importantly, companies need to focus on their internal brand, to make sure management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency are all moving in the same direction.
Build a brand credo document
Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings on a daily basis. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time.
Brand idea examples
Build your marketing skills with how to write a Brand Concept
One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of writing a brand concept. Read our step-by-step process for how to create a brand concept that brings your brand to life. Learn how to lay out the brand concept with the brand idea, consumer insights, main message, support points and call-to-action.
Our marketing programs What type of marketer are you?
We believe that marketers learn best when they see our marketing concepts applied to brands that look like their own. We have come up with specific examples – consumer, B2B and healthcare – to showcase our marketing tools. Click on the icon below to choose your interest area.
Brand Management Mini MBA
Invest in your future. If you are an ambitious marketer, looking to solidify your marketing skills, our Brand Management Mini MBA will teach you about strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plans, advertising decisions, and marketing analytics.
Have a look at our brochure on our Mini MBA program
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You get 36 training videos and our Brand Toolkit ($200 value) that has over 120 PowerPoint slides you can use for presentations on brand plans, brand positioning, and business reviews. We provide key chapters from our Beloved Brands Playbook, and a Brand Management Workbook with exercises to try in real-time. Earn a certificate you can use on your resume or LinkedIn profile.