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What's Your Brand Essence?

During the first week of AMP Agency's Insights Lab Incubator, we asked students the thought provoking question, "What's your brand essence?"  We provided the following description and prompt:

Strong brands have well-defined, easily grasped, simply obvious essences. Think of yourself as a brand. When you are interviewing for a job, what is your brand?

According to Kirk Phillips' blog BrandSTOKE, brand essence sums up how your brand connects emotionally with your customers.

Articulating how your audience (potential employer) feels about your brand in an authentic and meaningful way is often challenging but important. A brand essence is intangible. Best in Class brand examples include:

  • Nike is inspirational
  • Walt Disney is magical

The primary criteria for a brand essence are the following:

  1. Single-minded One word is ideal. Maybe two. More than two words indicates that the brand has no focus. As a brand (by design) delivers a unique experience, having no focus makes for a weak brand.
  2. Unique The essence of a brand is how it is different from competitors in the same category. e.g., if Apple (and its products) is friendly and approachable, then it is claiming that its competitors are not.
  3. Experiential The essence captures what the consumer feels during an encounter with the brand. e.g., 'Driving a Volvo makes me feel that my family is safe.'?
  4. Consistently delivered If the proposed essence is not consistently experienced (e.g, if a trip to Walt Disney World isn't magical), then it isn't the essence. Can your organization deliver?
  5. Authentic The essence must be credible or the brand will be rejected. To find out what consumers believe about your brand, ask them. It's okay for the brand essence to be aspirational, but only if your customers believe you can deliver on the promise.

Assignment: Represent yourself as your brand. If you were a brand and talking about yourself, how would you tell that story (e.g. via a video, the 'about us'? webpage, a print ad, etc.).  You will present your brand essence in the next class.

Check out the students' brand essences.

Xuyan Zhao - Dynamic 

For my brand essence, I choose the word 'dynamic'?. Not only does it mean I like to move around, but also means I always keep an open mind to everything happens in the world. I traveled around the world in all my spare time. No matter metropolis or town, mountain or canyon, beach or everglade, forest or cave, there is no limit for me to explore the world. I am passionate with new things. I love challenges and the processes to overcome challenges. Life is short, I want to try more new things I've never done before.

And for my deliverable, I created a Prezi to describe myself through pictures. I think those pictures are the best way to describe how dynamic I am.

Amelia Simpson = MVP 

I love football. I'm notorious for skipping class to sit on my floor and watch replays of the 1979 Sugar Bowl whenever it's on ESPN Classic. So, for my brand essence I went with MVP.

Most Valuable Player is someone who hits the ground running every day and shows up with a can-do attitude. Whatever it takes to get the team a W ' I'm your girl.

For my deliverable, I played around with an ESPN NFL player profile and tweaked it to be a player profile of myself. It's rough but with some touch ups, it's the kind of thing I'd like to use as a landing page for an about me of a blog.

Amelia Simpson

Lauren Haslett = Bubbly

My brand essence is: BUBBLY!

I've always been very friendly, outgoing and bubbly. My personality makes it easy for me to form good, solid relationship with both clients and co-workers alike. My bubbly-ness also gives me tons of energy that I channel into producing amazing, creative work. I'm also a great team member, and I work really well with others.

I think that people really underestimate the value of having positivity and compassion in the workplace. People are the most productive when they're happy, and I strive to brighten people's days and make them happy.

Here's a Vine I made to show off my bubbly personality! I wanted to make a Vine because everyone is busy nowadays, and this shows off my personality in less than 6 seconds!

Emma Groomes = Curious

In my house I am notorious for always being the one to ask questions and rip apart everything in search of answer so for my brand essence I chose the word 'curious.'?

Being curious can sometimes lead to everything getting crazy, but it usually leads you to some pretty amazing information and new ideas. For my deliverable, I created a Tumblr page about 'The 8 Stages of Being Curious'? which pretty accurately describes my process of discovery.

http://whatcuriositymeans.tumblr.com/

Dan Reineberg = Calculated Creativity

As a former medical student turned advertising student, I understand the research method and the science behind the psychology of design, but still consider myself more creative then analytic. It's a common perception that people are either right brained (creative) or left brained (analytic). I feel that I am able to effectively access and integrate both hemispheres of the brain in a process called divergent thinking.

For my brand essence, I chose two words that I feel sum up divergent thinking and who I am as a brand, Calculated Creativity.

I took a youtube video that describes divergent thinking, edited and shortened it to create a description of my brand essence.

Liana Franklin = Opportunity

So for my brand essence, I chose opportunity. I made a simple print ad as a metaphor for my brand (hopefully it posts I had some trouble before).

The way I see it, everything around us is something waiting to be discovered or seen in a new light. Everything is an opportunity waiting to be acted upon. When you look a little harder, it can open up new experiences, feelings, ideas, and creativity- you just have to be willing to take it.

I made a print ad, kind of playing off of the idea of rose-colored glasses. It's a blank page, but look through the glasses, and you see colors and shapes burst through the lenses.

 

 

Quinn Rodriguez = Genuine

I'm a writer- not a Photoshop wiz or a Final Cut pro (no pun intended). I could think of no better way to portray who I am than to just tell you.

My brand is genuine. At least, as genuine as a twenty something going through a reoccurring identity crisis can be. When you look at my website, it's all me. I'm sassy, pensive, and deciding for who I want to be. I admit to my mistakes and when I don't know something, I will never try to lie and pretend that I do.

Coming to college, I figured Communications would be the best fit for me. Writing, creating. Exciting! As my classmates burst with ideas and plot twists and words that would make Hemingway jealous, I realized that I was too logical for COM, but too off the wall for SMG.

I'm not going to pretend that I have a strong expertise in using Avid or Adobe CS, or that financial analysis scares me half to death. I've stopped trying to put myself into a box, and just be me. With me, what you see is what you get- I don't know how to be anything else.

Lucia Ramos = Curious

So for my brand essence, I decided to use a word cloud as my visual because there are a lot of ways to describe me.

In a word, I would say I am curious. I am constantly looking to Twitter or the news for what is going on in the world as well as in my own world here at BU.

Here is a link to the world cloud I made, the image won't post for some reason.

Annie Donnelly = Observer

What's your brand essence? Share with us in the comments box.

 


Related Posts

What DTCs Are Missing As They Open Physical Stores

Benjamin Y. Seldin,  Strategy Director In the years leading up to the current pandemic, Casper, the bedding brand, was in the midst of opening 200 stores across North America. It was among a number of direct-to-consumer companies (“DTCs”) opening physical stores at a rapid pace. While these brands are likely now reconsidering expansion plans, this trend will not disappear. DTCs experience awareness and a surge in online sales in markets where they open a physical location. From the design of their stores to the purposes they serve, I’ve noticed commonalities in how DTCs treat brick and mortar. And I’ve wondered: does their digital origin produce a particular approach toward physical stores? So, right before the pandemic, I journeyed through a bunch of them, most of which are recent additions to Boston, to investigate.  I found most share an emphasis on product demonstration and prime location – as well as a shortage of personality. It’s like they applied their focus on user experience in the digital space to the physical one. But that strategy is fading in digital, and it is in real life too. So in the following, I’ll identify how DTCs are missing personality as they enter brick and mortar and offer suggestions for improvement and greater opportunity.   Let’s look at some examples We’ll begin outside the DTC world with Filson, the heritage clothing brand that started in 1897. In speaking with a sales rep there, I learned that before the company opened a store in Boston’s gleaming new Seaport District, Alex Carleton, its Chief Creative Officer, took time scouring New England for unique antiques to fit Filson’s rugged, hip American aesthetic. The result is a quirky space with a larger-than-life wooden bear at the entrance that both greets and frightens customers, and dressing rooms that could be guest rooms at the Ace Hotel.  When compared to Away, the DTC retailer that later opened next door, Filson’s store contrasts greatly. Away is sparse, efficient, and transactional. It mainly encourages customers to test its flagship product, a well-designed suitcase. Similarly, the shoe brand Allbirds, famous for using wool, features wool swaths to touch and detailed explanations of the material’s benefits. Indochino, a menswear company, displays a wall of fabric swaths to exhibit color and variety. For these DTCs, product demonstration is paramount.   Location, location, location Like the real estate adage says, location is also a big factor. Many of the DTCs I visited are in Boston’s Seaport District. Maggie Smith, head of marketing at the neighborhood’s developer explained, “co-tenancy continues to be a main part of the conversation…there’s a transition going on, from brands wanting to know traditional real estate metrics to those that are more consumer-driven; [before moving in] they want to know the social clout of the place itself.” In normal times, the Seaport District bolsters its social clout with pop-up villages including rows of local retailers. The pop-ups benefit from the legitimacy of the larger players, and the larger stores enjoy the freshness of the pop-ups.    Single products DTC stores are often built around single products. This approach can feel contemporary in the online world but incomplete in the physical one, where even brands using the showroom model (with just a few sizes for each item) still offer a full line. Casper understands the value of a full line and expanded a while back from a single mattress to a spread of sleep-related products that fill its brick-and-mortars. It went even further as it recently prepared for IPO, attempting to become “the Nike of sleep.” It assembled a “sleep advisory board” and instituted internal policies to rally around quality sleep. While it faced an uphill battle in a competitive environment, this was the right play, albeit a bit late in the game.   Advice and opportunities for DTC brands If you’re a DTC using this period to plan brick and mortar expansion, here are some ideas. Pick your moment. If you don’t yet have a full product line, consider a pop-up store in a choice location first. Let personality lead design. Dig into what makes your brand’s personality unique and reflect it in design. If your brand doesn’t have much personality, start by developing one. Connect product to personality. Even functional elements should convey personality. Consider how Apple’s genius bar took what historically was a routine service and made it a branded centerpiece that embodies the brand’s charisma. Think big and small. What makes Filson’s Seaport store impressive isn’t just the things you first see like the big bear. It’s the details like dressing room fixtures and antiques that unveil themselves the more time you spend in the store. If product-first DTC’s aspire to last over a century like Filson has, they should use brick and mortar to help us get to know them and not just their products. Personality signals a company’s identity and purpose. It also helps foster customer relationships, which will be key in weathering this storm and others ahead. To learn more about how personality grows brands, click here.

Google Search Trends Insights June 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for June 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. June 2020 Overview June 2020 was another month where keywords related to a current event news story. Of the 90 phrases we captured over the month, a third of them were news-related. Before the pandemic, the most popular keyword category was “sports”. In June, there were a few sports-related terms that we will examine later on in the article. Beyond news keywords, we saw a few holidays drive users to search as well as a few gaming-related phrases specifically related to PlayStation 5 or PS5. Here are our takes on the keywords driving the most queries in June 2020. Google Doodle The keyword that drove the most queries last month was connected to a Google Doodle. Marsha P. Johnson - 6/29/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Quoting from the Doodle Page, the illustration featured “LGBTQ+ rights activist, performer, and self-identified drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, who is widely credited as one of the pioneers of the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States.” The timing of the Doodle was to commemorate the one year anniversary of Marsha being posthumously honored as a grand marshal of the New York City Pride March.  Google publishing this Doodle during Pride Month inspired us to view the 5-year trend for this phrase. Based on this graph, the search interest is continuing to grow for Pride Month, although the biggest jump occurred between 2018 and 2019. We believe that marketers should be aware of the increasing interest and align campaigns accordingly and authentically. June Holidays  Last month had a few holidays that drove users to Google to search for more information. There were three on our list that we wanted to analyze further to understand the year-over-year trends: National Best Friends Day - 6/8/2020 - 500,000+ queries Juneteenth - 6/18/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Happy Father's Day - 6/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries The first holiday that cracked the top 3 most queried terms of the day was National Best Friends Day that brands like Starbucks and ProFlowers have used in ad campaigns. This year, the search interest for this lighthearted, social-media-friendly holiday hit a new peak. The volume isn’t large for this holiday as compared to other, more established holidays but it has been trending up over the past three years. It could be considered for content calendar planning for 2021. With the protests for racial equality and justice being in the forefront of peoples’ minds over the past six weeks, it makes sense there would be a very large increase in search volume around the holiday of Juneteenth: Looking at Google search trends data from 2004 to present, you can see that this year may have been a watershed moment for this holiday – and we may see more governments recognize it as an official holiday.   Lastly, Father’s Day had its top query day on the 21st. Father’s Day-related keywords also made the top 3 for the days of June 19 (Happy Father's Day - 1,000,000+ queries) and June 20 (Father’s Day message - 500,000+ queries). This year appeared to be a down year for queries related to this holiday as the peak occurred in 2017. Just remember, if there is any debate about which parent is more popular, check the data before you take a position. A Few Keywords Related To Sports In pre-pandemic days, most of the searches we collected were sports related but now they are a minor category of keywords. Here are the most queried phrases related to sports in June 2020: Drew Brees - 6/3/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Bubba Wallace - 6/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Cam Newton - 6/28/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Searchers were interested in what Drew Brees had to say in terms of other players kneeling during the National Anthem before games.  Bubba Wallace, who is a NASCAR driver, may have been the victim of a hate crime. Lastly, Cam Newton became a top searched sports-related query when he signed with the New England Patriots. It’s telling that without live games, sports queries have decreased over the past three months. With the major professional leagues set to resume play in July and August, it will be interesting to see if sports-related terms drive users to search like they did earlier in the year. Marketers should keep a close eye on sports keyword volume if live games resume. PlayStation 5 Is a Big Deal Sony revealed many details about their new gaming console and many people choose to learn more about it. PS5 - 6/10/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries PS5 Price - 6/11/2020 -2,000,000+ queries We have seen gaming become more popular as a keyword category over the months we have collected data. It seems the pandemic has driven more interest in gaming topics.  Marketers should be aware of this growing trend and see if it continues to grow at the same rate in 2021. Thanks for reading. Until next month.  

Google Search Trends Insights May 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for May 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Before We Begin This month’s article is difficult to write. When we started this project, we were trying to mine the top searched terms for marketing insights to share on our blog. April 2020 had some light moments, and the holidays that occurred in May 2020 did drive many search terms that we will outline below. But before we discuss Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, we’d like to acknowledge that this month is different. Important topics related to racial injustice and inequality predominantly drove queries in May. So along with those keywords, we’re going to share a resource that Google put together to continue to provide users with information on these topics.  May Holiday Trends The first keyword phrase on our list that fell in the Holiday category is “Teacher Appreciation Week.” Teacher Appreciation Week - 5/3/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Looking at the 5 year trend for this phrase, you can see that search interest surged in 2020. We think this year’s spike was powered by two main factors:  1) Google changed their logo to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week on May 3rd as a part of their Google Doodle program. 2) The pandemic has taught us all how important our teachers are, especially the parents who have been helping their kids learn from home.  While we may not see as much of a jump next year, marketers can add the week of May 3 - 7, 2021 to their calendars as a prime gift-giving time period.  The second holiday phrase from our list is “Cinco de Mayo.” Cinco de Mayo - May 4th - 2,000,000+ queries Looking at the chart, the query volume is up from last year, but lower than a peak in 2017. The holiday has been criticized in recent years, as the promotion of the date started as an earnest show of patriotism but has transitioned to be a chiefly corporate celebration. Even without a pandemic, we wonder if the popularity of this holiday will continue to dwindle as the public’s attitude on the true nature of the celebration changes. The next holiday on our list is “Mother’s Day”, which appeared many times on our list. Mother's Day 2020 - 5/2/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries  Happy Mother's Day - 5/8/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day - 5/9/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day Images - 5/9/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Mother's Day - 5/10/2020 - 500,000+ queries This year, Mother’s Day was a multiple-day event with many queries occurring on the days that led up to the holiday. We do appreciate that there was a spike in queries the week before the holiday. We’re pretty sure people were checking to make sure they didn’t miss celebrating with the moms in their lives. Beyond that, the “images” query on the 9th is intriguing, as it appears that people were looking for visuals to wish someone a Happy Mother’s Day in lieu of a traditional printed card.  We thought that this query was driven by our new behavior due to the pandemic. When you may not want to go to a traditional store to browse cards, the solution could be to make your own at home. From the chart above, this phrase has had enough volume to be measured from May 2012 now. With its highest volume this year, this trend could be an indication that pandemic-driven behavior shifts may affect sales in the printed card industry for future holidays. Lastly, “Memorial Day” was a popular holiday phrase on our list. Memorial Day - 5/24/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries 2020 saw the biggest query volume for this holiday not only over the past 5 years, but also... ...the last 16 years. This slight boost over last year and 2016 could be driven by COVID-19, as people were searching for information related to the holiday. Marketers should note that this holiday has been gaining query volume since 2004 and should be a factor they consider in their plans for the year. Protests for Racial Equality and Justice‬‬ In May 2020, there were many queries that were related to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, as well as the protests that followed.   Ahmaud Arbery - 5/5/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Ahmaud Arbery - 5/6/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Ahmaud Arbery - 5/7/2020 - 200,000+ queries George Floyd - 5/26/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Minneapolis - 5/27/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Minneapolis news - 5/27/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Minneapolis riots - 5/27/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Tim Walz - 5/28/2020 - 500,000+ queries Derek Chauvin - 5/29/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Protests - 5/30/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries From a purely analytical standpoint, the query volumes of these searches indicate that the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, as well as the world’s reactions to them, held great importance among the general public in May 2020. In the past, that’s the only takeaway we would share, as our primary goal of this blog was to merely report phrases, dates and query volumes as a record of how searches progressed over time.  But the queries on this list cannot – and should not – be viewed or discussed solely through an analytic lens. Because not only do these queries represent the murders of two men, but the systemic racism, oppression and racial violence against Black people that remains prevalent in our country today.  We at AMP Agency have been deeply affected by these events and stand in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As we continue to listen, to examine ourselves and our actions, and to do the work we need to do, we want to make it clear that any tool that helps us learn more about how we can end racial inequality is one we wholeheartedly support.  That being said, Google itself has understood the importance of this subject and has provided this helpful resource to bring greater focus to the queries related to these society-changing topics. Along with compiling keyword queries related to protests for racial equity and justice‬‬, this resource includes many different insightful visualizations and data segments that provide information as users search for answers on Google.  Thanks for reading. Until next month.