Brand strategy: Does your business have a core brand idea?

You may not realise it, but every brand worth its weight has a something that drives it, something special that sets it apart - an essence so to speak.

It’s the energy around the office, it’s that feeling that you get when you interact with clients or customers, it’s the thoughts that customers get when they think about or consume your brand. But how do you pinpoint what that “IT” is? And once you find it, what do you do with it?

What is a core brand idea?

A core brand idea is the simple concept that sits at the heart of your business. It is the sum of your philosophy, your essence and your values that inspires everything you do. It is the reason your brand exists, it’s what drives you to deliver value to your customers every day.

It may sound like an abstract concept, but the power of identifying your core brand idea is phenomenal. It clarifies your message, it informs your team, it drives your HR department, your business decisions, your products, your services, your marketing and even your KPI’s. Driven by a high level of refined clarity your brand strategy will communicate effectively through every customer touchpoint and the message will be received loud and clear by your customers.

A core brand idea is bigger than a hodgepodge of 15 brand values or a long winded mission statement. It is that one value, one purpose, one philosophy that drives you and your brand forward. It provides the level of clarity you need to harness your brand strategy and focus on what sets you apart.

Finding your core brand idea

To uncover your core idea you first need to review your brand strategy. This includes your values, mission, visions, positioning, personality traits and key messages. The art lies in sorting, shuffling and simplifying all these fragments into one simple idea.

You may need to revisit the drawing board if you feel that none of your existing brand assets really represent “you”. At Thirst we run an activity with the brand owners (typically the founders or senior leaders) and ask some very big questions like...

  • Why does your brand exist?
  • Why does your brand matter?
  • What are your customer's unique set of needs?
  • What sets you apart and why is that meaningful for your customers?
  • What do you want your customers to say about you when you’re not in the room?

Once you gather some real insight, try sorting each fragment of your brand into a theme. You may have multiple themes but each of these fragments interwoven represents your brand. Then you need to work on sharing and chopping ideas that come to mind. Your core brand idea may manifest into a single word or a clear articulate statement. Keep sorting, shuffling and trying new words or statements, then question the integrity of each idea until you reach that epiphany moment when you find the source.

You’ll know that you've found your core brand idea when you can apply it to every aspect of your business - your relationships with clients, the people you work with, the way you operate, even the way you bill. Once you have this idea your branding and marketing activities should essentially take ownership of this idea. You can also review each of your existing assets against this idea to ensure it represents your brand strategy with clarity.

Here are some well known examples of core brand ideas:

Campbell's: Comfort food
Starbucks: Reward everyday moments
Volvo: Safety
Apple Retail: Enriching lives
Ben & Jerry’s: linked prosperity
Thirst Creative - Creative that connects

Want to learn more about branding?
Read our related post: Expert advice on building a strong brand

Don’t forget to keep it real

Whatever you do, don’t go promoting a higher purpose if all you want to do is sell lots of products and make lots of money. A slogan is not a brand idea - while Coca-Cola tells us to “open happiness” really they just want us to open another Coke.

As brand expert Mark Ritson says:

“I think there is genuine brand purpose out there, particularly if you look at Ben & Jerry’s. However, I don’t think McDonald’s have a brand purpose, other than to sell as many burgers as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that, just don’t distract yourself with a higher purpose if it’s not authentic or legitimate.”

The benefits of developing your own core brand idea

It determines and aligns your future directions: Having one clear reason for being will help articulate your messaging, develop your visual identity and help differentiate your offerings.

You can create brand love: When you create a brand from a simple, clear idea that resonates with your audience, you can build brand love. This occurs through developing a strong association and relationship between your customer, your brand and your idea.

Creates a competitive advantage: Creating one core brand idea and focusing your branding around this exaggerates and clarifies to your audience and competitors exactly what it is that sets your brand apart.

Communicates your brand values simply: Having a core brand idea removes confusion for all stakeholders and cements what it is your brand will always stand for.

A good brand idea will make your visual identity obvious too: Logos, colour, imagery styles and the language you use will all be clarified once you narrow down your core brand idea.

Allow your brand to achieve more

There is true power in realising your core brand idea, though not everyone can do it alone. If you’re a brand that offers something special, our team of strategists can find and harness the strength of your core brand idea.

Get in touch with us today