Identify Your Brand Essence

When articulating brand essence, a Venn Diagram is a useful way to illustrate the correlations between ideas.

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Once you’ve identified your keywords for your brand and brand book, it’s important to both test them, and to demonstrate their relationship with regard to your brand position to create your brand essence. You’ll recall from our last post that we settled on the following keywords: imagination, friend, joy, clean, charity, children, dream, chubby, bathtime, and squeeze. To explore the relationship of each of these keywords to each other, we will make use of a Venn Diagram.

Why include a Venn Diagram to Illustrate Brand Essence?

venn diagram brand book
Venn Diagram via Wikipedia

A Venn Diagram is a useful way to illustrate the correlations between ideas in our brand book. You’ve probably seen them before, they look something like what you see to the left. Usually 3 overlapping circles, representing how the different ideas overlap. For instance it shows you, graphically, what happens in a space where A and C, but not B overlap. That’s the green area on the image.

Why is it important to understand what happens when A and C overlap? When you’re talking about branding, the brand only exists in the space where A, B, and C overlap. Where any 2 circles overlap, we’re getting close to the brand, but we haven’t fully delivered it. If you understand each of the two-circle overlaps, you’ll begin to understand what makes your brand special. Articulating what makes your brand special is a critical element in the brand book. This may make more sense as we work through our Venn Diagram for the Rubber Duckie brand.

brand bookTo start, we need to try to identify the three BIG ideas represented in our keywords. Likely suspects, based on the work we’ve already completed include Joy, Charity, Imagination, Friend, Children, and Clean. For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume the big three are: Joy, Imagination, and Charity. As you can see, we label our big circles with our big ideas and then try to work the remaining keywords into their location between the big ideas. For instance, where joy and imagination overlap, dreams exist. Problems start arising, however, when we try to identify what happens when the big ideas overlap with Charity. Somehow, none of the keywords we identified seem to make sense for where Imagination and Charity overlap. In a world of Imagination and Charity — we don’t get bathtime, clean, squeeze, chubby, friend, or children. We might get innovation or fundraisers, though — but we didn’t identify those as keyword brand attributes. So Charity is a bad choice for the big idea — OR we misidentified our keywords.

brand bookLet’s try a different version of the three BIG ideas: Joy, Imagination, and Bathtime. A little more traditional – true, perhaps more reflective of the roots of the brand and not what it is evolving toward, but let’s try it. When we cross Imagination with Bathtime, we get Clean and Children — that seems right. When we cross Imagination and Joy, we our previously identified Dream, but also Charity now. That fits. When we cross Joy with Bathtime we get Friend and Squeeze. Those are both good fits, the Rubber Duckie is a friend at Bathtime, delivering joy to children and adults alike–and I dare you not to squeeze it.

Where Does “Chubby” fit in the Brand Book?

It’s a key element of the brand, all Rubber Duckies are chubby — but it doesn’t really fit at the intersection of the big ideas. There are three ways to deal with this problem for the brand book.

  1. It might be time to reconsider our big ideas and find some that fit better.
  2. We could throw it out.
  3. We could embrace it for what it is and use a marketing technique such as acronyms to help.

brand essenceFor right now, we’re going to acknowledge that it doesn’t fit our brand and leave it set aside in our brand book. We may discover where the word Chubby fits in with future analysis for our brand book, and perhaps we won’t, in which case we will edit the Keywords and Venn diagram as we pull all our pieces together for the final draft. (Remember, I told you writing a brand book could be a bit of a vicious circle at the outset of this process.)

We now have a working model of our Venn Diagram in the brand book. It has helped us to understand that while Charity may play an important emerging role in the Rubber Duckie brand, at present, it does not play a significant role, and that’s OK — Rubber Duckie got its start at Bathtime, and it makes sense that Bathtime should continue to play a vital role in brand position. It also helped us to understand we may have a problem with Chubby. So the exercise helped us further identify our brand position AND helped to articulate our brand position for individuals who may read our Brand Book at a later date.

See more from the Brand Book Tutorial Series

Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

Reader Interactions


  1. Shalin says

    I have used Venn diagrams in probability to represent set theory. I have seen question type Venn Diagrams on the internet. Most of them are funny and clever. I was inspired to draw such diagrams and publish in the blog. Although I would recommend reading different types of Venn diagrams if they want to learn more. I have seen very complex ones as well. Well done on the explanation!

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