Tag Archives: brand essence

Deck of the Day: The 9 Criteria for Brand Essence

December marks the end of the school year at Full Sail University. I could not be more ready for the three week break, which will be filled with posting back-logged articles I’ve had to start and stop several times due to work projects and a demanding on campus and online course load. I also cannot wait to bring back my yearly Christmas cookie posts, spend time with family, and actually take a small break to read. I. Am. So. Ready!

But, before break begins next week, I have a new round of Slideshare analyses to grade. In my class, Professional Communication and Presentation, we devote some time to the discussion of branding and a presentation’s role in creating or conveying a brand. When we discuss the visual resume project, we come back to the idea of brand by creating what Megan Marrs calls a “brand mantra”, a statement that conveys who you are as a professional and what you have to offer. Recently, Alex Rister discussed the connection between storytelling and brand–brand is the story of a company, service, or individual. Brand can also be equated with Aristotle’s concept of ethos, the appeal that prepares the audience to deem a speaker as either worth listening to or not. Ethos is about perception, as brand is about perception.

Today’s deck speaks to this idea. Kirk Phillips, in “The 9 Criteria for Brand Essence”, defines brand as “a product, service, cause or organization with perceived intangible attributes.” In other words, in order for a strong brand to be successful, it must cause consumers to feel the intangible (hope, fear, love, freedom, exhilaration, self-actualization) through the tangible (product, service, cause, organization). Phillips supports his viewpoint by referencing feelings we associate with major brands (for instance, FedEx inspires a feeling of security; Disney offers a magical experience). He furthermore states that a brand with no intangible attributes or differentiating factors is essentially just commodity.

For Phillips, strong brands begin with strong brand essence, a “single intangible attribute” (or mantra, promise, story, principal, etc.). It is brand essence “that differentiates the brand from competitive brands” (Phillips).

After his explanation of brand, Phillips identifies the nine essentials of a strong brand:

  1. Unique (How different is it from the competition?)
  2. Intangible (Does it make people feel feelings?)
  3. Single-minded (Can it be described in one word?)
  4. Experiential (Does the essence match up with the audience’s experience?)
  5. Meaningful (Does it matter to the audience?)
  6. Consistently delivered (Does it change from user to user, experience to experience?)
  7. Authentic (Is it credible?)
  8. Sustainable (Does it EVER change? Hint: the answer is no)
  9. Scalable (Can the brand grow and expand?)

This got me thinking about how I can reinforce the importance of strong personal brand for students (and soon faculty, as I took on the task of showing my department how to create a CV using WordPress)–to be successful, you must create those moments when your audience perceives the intangible, when your audience feels you have a place in their hearts and minds. Phillips furthermore connects presentations to brand via the use of touchpoints, places in which the brand interacts with the consumer. Considering how little time we devote to presentations, is it really surprising when our audiences aren’t moved by our ideas?

The deck is well-designed and cleanly organized, illustrating strong unity through color and type. I am not a fan of the company name on every slide, but this is a minor detriment. Most of the deck was easy to process, and the slides implemented the 3-second glance media rule and picture superiority effect. The deck gets noisier as it goes along and once the 9 criteria are introduced, there’s more reliance on text alone to convey ideas. So, at times, I felt the information could have been broken up over more slides, but considering the importance of contrasting strong brand vs. commodity and method of delivery (this is more of a pdf asset to digest carefully), it makes sense that the information was presented in this way.

Take a moment to check out today’s deck below.

What is your brand mantra? What is your intangible attribute? Does it truly differentiate you from others?

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