This article explains what the Brand Essence Wheel is and why every business needs one. You’ll also find a handy template which you can download and print with tips on how to complete it. But first . . . what does the word ‘brand’ actually mean?
Historically a brand was the ‘identifying mark burned on livestock’. This term was later used to describe a ‘brand name’ – the name, logo or image given to a product identifying it as having been produced by a particular company. This has now been expanded to encompass all identifying features of a company from ways of working to shared values.
What is the Brand Essence Wheel?
The Brand Essence Wheel is a template which can be used to help define a brand.
The brand wheel poses four simple questions about a brand which are answered from the perspective of past, current or future customers. The questions are as follows:
- What does the brand do for you?
- How would you describe the brand?
- How does the brand make you look?
- How does the brand make you feel?
The term ‘you’ is often replaced by ‘the customer’ in the above questions. Similarly, the term ‘brand’ is occasionally replaced by ‘product’ to help ease understanding.
Multiple answers are given for each question. Answers typically consist of one-word adjectives or single phrases. Simplicity is key when creating a Brand Wheel.
The answers to each of the four questions are then further refined and divided into ‘Facts & Symbols’ and ‘Brand Personality’. A ‘Core’ Brand Essence is identified from these.
The Brand Essence Wheel is usually completed by marketing, brand or product managers and used to inform an overall marketing strategy. In smaller organisations and start-ups business owners or entire teams may also be involved.
Market research such as survey data is often used to create a Brand Essence Wheel.
In some cases, two Brand Essence Wheels are created. One representing the brand as it currently stands and a more aspirational one showing where the brand would like to be.
The Brand Essence Wheel is a practical tool for capturing conceptual ideas.
Why You Need a Brand Wheel
In today’s complex and crowded marketplace we don’t have the time to conduct a detailed product comparison every single time we make a purchase. Instead, we rely on brands to help speed up our decision-making process and differentiate between similar products.
Brands provide trust and reassurance when making a purchase decision. In a consumer culture, brands are also used to define ourselves and our belonging within a community.
The world’s most successful companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon have one thing in common – a strong sense of brand. Whether we realise it or not we instinctually associate these brands with various concepts such as design, innovation and efficiency.
These brand associations do not happen by accident, they have been carefully crafted.
That is not to say that a business can just select any brand identity, promote it and expect to succeed. For a brand to truly achieve greatness it must first come from a place of authenticity. The Brand Essence Wheel is a tool to help you to find that place.
The Brand Essence Wheel uncovers the core benefit of your business to consumers.
Through the process of creating your Brand Essence Wheel, you will identify the positive elements of your brand to nurture into the future. The wheel can also uncover undesired brand or product associations which need to be addressed for your business to thrive.
The learnings from your Brand Essence Wheel can inform the 5 P’s of Marketing (Product. Price, Place, Promotion and People) and be used to develop a robust marketing strategy.
Brand Essence Wheel Template
Below is a blank Brand Wheel which you can download and print out. Complete this template with your clients, management team or colleagues. You can also survey your customers to get additional insights before you begin completing your wheel.
If you’re an in-house marketer why not approach this as a fun brainstorming session with representatives from different departments present. Hand each member a blank sheet and give them 15 mins to complete it alone. Then draw a large version on a whiteboard and collaborate on a shared Brand Essence Wheel which everyone can get behind.
You may find it useful to look at some Brand Wheel examples before getting started. Or try sitting down as a group and spending 15 minutes filling in the Brand Essence Wheel template for a famous brand which you all know and love (or hate ;-).
Make sure you have lots of blank templates printed as there will be revisions!
If you’re an external consultant email the template with instructions to your clients. Then sit down together in-person or via a video conference to hash out a final version.
Download and Print Your Brand Essence Wheel Template Here.
When completing this template you may want to create two versions. One for where your brand currently is and another for where you’d like your brand to go. But remember especially for well-established brands it’s important to be true to yourself and your customers. Ensure sure that where you’re going isn’t too far removed from where you are.
Remember that the Brand Essence Wheel is simply a tool to get you started defining Your Brand. There are no ‘rights or wrongs’ here, just go with it and don’t sweat the small stuff!