Safeguard Your Business: The Power of the Brand Essence

By April 22, 2008Blog

Any good brand can be identified in just a few short words (known as the brand essence), whether it’s a business, travel destination or leader. What’s more, solid brands withstand any crisis by sticking to their core offering and communicating clearly with customers. Here’s a look at the brand essences of two businesses: one that works and another that needs some guidance.

Frontier Stands for “Different”
By living up to the tagline “A whole different animal,” which embodies the company’s brand essence, Frontier has taken airline travel back to its glory days. Unlike any other airline, Frontier delivers on a promise to be affordable, flexible, accommodating and comfortable. You can’t find another carrier that will, in writing, commit to providing the “lowest fare available,” “on-time baggage delivery” and “prompt ticket refunds” ( When they claimed bankruptcy two weeks ago, the authentic tone and honest approach of communications to business and consumer customers helped smooth a sticky situation. By remaining true to their brand essence, the company has better odds of pulling through this and remaining ahead of the game.

Delta Stands for What?
At a March branding conference, a major agency showcased a revitalized brand rollout for its client, Delta. The video featured a brief history of the airline’s bankruptcy troubles, the U.S. Airways bid to take over Delta, and genuine testimonials from employees vowing, “We were all determined not to let [a merger] happen.” The refreshed brand seemed to embody many great, if not unquantifiable, attributes: better customer experience; an improved airport environment; vaster reach to global destinations; philanthropic involvement; and, the list goes on. Today, the corporate website prompts users to “Go green together” ( Oh, right, and Delta merged with Northwest last week. Confused about what they stand for yet? That said, how do you suppose the company will survive the storm?

Las Vegas Stands for “Sin City”
Re-branded in 2005, Vegas capitalized on an existing reputation as Sin City with its now infamous “What happens here stays here” tagline. The city knows its identity and makes it known to the masses. That keeps thrill-seeking consumers flocking to the city for a fulfilling time. Once known as a goldmine for real estate developers, investors in this oasis in the desert suffered greatly from the economic downturn. Yet the city’s reputation stands strong, thanks to a solid brand identity.

Williamsburg, VA, Stands for What?
The colonial capital of the United States is in the midst of an identity crisis. Here’s a great town with an amazing array of things for folks to see and do: Colonial Williamsburg, the battlefields at Yorktown, the settlement at Jamestown, and amusement parks galore. But potential visitors aren’t clear on what the city offers, so the organization isn’t known as a worthwhile tourist attraction. Once marketers get clear on a single coherent offering, officials can better convey what’s in it for tourists.

Richard Branson Stands for “Entrepreneurship”
According to Forbes’ 2008 list of wealthiest people, Branson is worth about $7.9 billion today – and for good reason. Here’s a man who has his whole life stood for calculated risk-taking in business. Even when ratings for his 2004 Fox reality show “The Rebel Billionaire” tanked in comparison with Donald Trump’s more popular “The Apprentice,” his reputation stood strong. After all, no one’s going to second guess a guy who created a brand (Virgin) under which 360 companies now thrive.

Geraldine Ferraro Stands for What?
In the 1984 election, Ferraro became the first female Vice Presidential candidate. From there, she was twice unsuccessful in landing a seat in the Senate. Last we heard from her was one not-so-nice remark this past February about the reasoning behind Obama’s political success. Particularly because folks are unclear on what she stands for, Ferraro’s going to need some serious crisis communications to smooth over this gaffe.

What core value is your business or organization best known for? Do all of your employees, communications and collective actions embody that brand essence? What core value are you best known for? How could your brand essence be improved?