Brand Essence: The Rock’n’Roll of Business

Like famous musicians, effective brands maintain a certain sway over those who come into contact with them, a sense of awe and authority that translates talent, focus, and hard work into an essence that communicates instantly.


Let’s begin by defining the word “brand.”


To start we will play the game “no.” I’ll ask several questions to which you have already been supplied the answer.


Is your brand your logo? No. Is your brand your pithy tagline or your mission statement? No. Is your marketing manager in charge of your brand? No.


Now, let’s play the game “yes.”


Is brand important in all types of businesses? Yes. Even business-to-business and service companies? Yes. Can a strong brand presence increase your market value? Yes? Can it garner a premium for your products or services? Yes. Can a brand dramatically increase your company’s valuation? Yes.


Consider this example: when the Pillsbury company sold in 1988, 88% of the 990-million sales price was shelled out for the goodwill of the brand, not the machinery, management, or distribution. In the business world, this mysterious value is known as brand equity. In rock and roll, it would be called a platinum hit.


Brand, then, may be defined as every perception and interaction that anyone has or doesn’t have with your organization and how the cumulative effect of these interactions. Brand essence is elusive, but carefully and artfully cultivated.


Brand essence is never static and cannot be controlled.


Like famous musicians, strong brands evoke a sense of wonder and self-evident identity. Consumers do not have to stop and think about the brands; they transform into a short-hand understanding of a whole gestalt of experience.


Think of some musical performers. Grateful Dead. What images and feelings pop into mind? Lawrence Welk? Metallica? Beyoncé? Now, think of a few business brands: Apple, Home Depot, Hello Kitty?


Successful bands and successful business understand how to align every experience with their different audiences. They weave a golden thread of significance and unique value into every expression of their organization: shareholders, the press, fans, or customers


Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of going Electric. Visit to learn more.