Let’s start with Brand Identity.
Jeff Bezos, puts Brand Identity as, “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Mark Bower of Woven Agency calls it, “Your brand identity is how you project yourself to – and how you want to be seen by – the outside world.” While Marty Neumeir puts it as , "Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is."
In 1996, Jean-Noel Kapferer, a professor of Marketing Strategy at HEC Paris, came up with the idea of representing brand identity as a hexagonal prism, with each side standing for one of these essential elements: Physique, Relationship and Reflection are the external factors of a brand whereas Personality, Culture and Self-image are internal factors. Successful brands are the ones in which all of these six facets are carefully intertwined and aligned. Kapferer’s brand identity uses traits of human being for a metaphor of a brand.
Here we use the Swatch brand as an example to explain the model:
The physical characteristics and iconography of your brand – Swatch watches are colourful, plastic quartz watches that are attractively designed and affordable. Other examples would be Nike’s swoosh, the sleek styling of Apple or the bold orange pantone of easyJet. Kapferer said the physique should be considered the basis of the brand; it is the clearest visual representation of your brand’s aspirations and how you wish it to be perceived, what your products or services look like, what emotions they inspire, and how that might look like in their physical form.
The physique helps consumers get associated with the brand initially. When you see the iPhone of Apple you get attracted to its elegance, style, and aesthetics.
How a brand communicates with world, its tone of voice, its design and its copywriting. A Brand personality is developed by attributing human characteristics to it so that consumers can relate to the brand easily.
Swatch watches are known for their style, fun and innovativeness. The Coca-Cola brand as another example, expressed a happy and playful persona through its bold colour choices, scripted font and brand messaging that centres on having a great time with friends and family.
The relationship between the brand and its customers, and what the customer hopes they are getting from the brand beyond the actual product or service. Swatch because it is affordable can easily be used aa a second watch. The John Lewis brand is famed for its product warranties and after-sales service, and developing a relationship of trust and respect with its customers.
Netflix is known for its obsession with customers; Netflix collects a huge amount of data on customers to create hyper-personalised recommendations. It uses that data to help customers find their new favourite shows and to create award-winning original content that is exactly what customers want to see.
The value system and principles of a brand. Swatch’s Swiss made reputation, lifestyle, fashion statement and sporty image. Tesla as another example, encourages its workforce to innovate and throw in ideas to keep the brand at the forefront of technological change. Google promotes flexibility, creativity and a fun environment – all things that it wants to be known for.
Culture can even be of country of origin, the nation where a product is produced or branded e.g. all over world, people favour cars produced in Japan for its culture and values. Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota are among the most respected car brands in the world.
Some brands though have managed to capitalise on false origination than its original; famous American brand ‘Mars’ has made Dutch people believe that it is originated in their country, Mars has got adjusted to the Dutch culture and values.
A brand is likely to have all types of customers as their base, but for their messaging they will choose a certain type. For swatch it is stylish yet affordable. Apple will associate their products with vibrant, adventurous and energetic people, irrespective of age, weight, race, etc. Brand reflection represents the distinctive class of users of a brand.
How the customer sees their ideal personality self. By understanding a customer’s ‘ideal identity’ – how they want to look and behave; what they aspire to, a brand can design their messaging accordingly. Is your customer’s ideal self out-going, intellectual, extroverted, refined, cheap-and-cheerful, rich-and-also-cheerful-on-account-of-how-rich-they-are?
Work out what your customer wants to look like and make your brand’s aspirations reflect theirs, e.g. most youngsters like to be tagged as “cool”, “stylish”, “vibrant” etc; they therefore choose brands which help them ascertain those tags.
Swatch brings with it an image of being trendy, good design, cool but with good quality. Another example, perfumes help consumers to boost their self-worth. Arpege Lanvin a famous French perfume used by stylish and classy women, is known for restoring feelings of self-worth in many women for decades. Its catchy tagline “No bottles to break – just hearts” says it all.
In short, the Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism is a useful to identify the important goalposts an organisation need to control in order to manage its brand conversation.
(adapted from Woven Agency and Dr. Vidya Hattangadi)