Brand Identity was mentioned for the first time in Europe by Kapferer in 1986. It is the outward expression of the brand including its name, trademark, communications and visual appearance. The brand’s identity is its fundamental means of consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand’s differentiation from competitors.
Strong brands are capable of weaving all aspects into an effective whole in order to create a concise, clear and appealing brand identity. Jean-Noel Kapferer
Professor Jean-Noel Kapferer represents brand identity diagrammatically as a six sided prism:
Aspects of Brand Identity Prism:
1. Physique is the set of the brand’s physical features, which are evoked in people’s minds when the brand name is mentioned. Kapferer states that this aspect has to be considered the basis of the brand. Key questions regarding this aspect are: what does the brand look like? What can a consumer do with it in terms of functionality? And how can it be recognized? It is also important to have a clear flagship product representing the brand’s overall qualities. A good example is- in Kapferer’s opinion – the Orangina brand. Due to the consistent use of the round orange-textured bottle, Orangina has managed to create a differentiating and recognizable market position for the brand. Kapferer furthermore states that no brand will be able to do without drawing attention to its material benefits. Even strong image brands, such as Hugo Boss, Max Factor and D&G, have to express in their advertising that they are selling clothes and/or lipstick. The tricky part is to do so in a recognizable and differentiating fashion.
2. Personality is the brand’s character. By communicating with consumers in a certain way, these can be given the feeling that all brand-related communication actually constitutes a person with specific character traits speaking to them. This can be realized by using a specific style of writing, using specific design features, and using specific colour schemes, for example. Endorsements in the shape of persons recommending a brand can literally give flesh to a brand’s character. Well-known examples are George Clooney for Nespresso and Jamie Oliver for Sainsbury’s.
3. Culture is the system of values and basic principles on which a brand has to base its behaviour (products and communication). Culture is the direct link between brand and organisation. Many associations in this area are linked to the country of origin; Coca-Cola appeals to American values, Mercedes-Benz to German ones, and Citroen to French ones. Sometimes, brands can also be fortified by the fact that they are associated with the consumer’s home nation; Kapferer refers to the example of the (American) brand Mars (candy bars), which makes many Dutch people feel it is in fact a wholly Dutch brand. Brand managers should have the brand’s culture resonate in as many customer contacts as possible.
4. A brand can symbolize a certain relationship between people. Relationship aspect requires a brand manager to express the relationship his/her brand stands for. Lexus clearly differentiates itself from BMW, for example, by almost literally giving its customers the red carpet treatment. The relationship aspect is perhaps even more important for service brands than for product brands, as a service is, by definition, a relationship.
5. Reflection (of the consumer) makes reference to the stereotypical user of the brand and is the source for identification. When thinking in terms of reflection, you could in the case of Coca-Cola describe the consumer base as 15-to-18- year-olds (with values such as fun, sporty and friendship), while the actual target group of this brand is far broader. Kapferer states that there is no need for brand managers to make a realistic reflection of the actual target group in their (image) campaigns, but rather present a group/ person that will appeal to the members of the target group.
6. Self-image is kind of a mirror the target group holds up to itself. When developing a brand identity, brand managers should take this dimension into account. Insight into the underlying intrinsic drivers of consumers can give a brand a real boost. If these insights are present, advertising can draw on them.
Brand Identity Prism enables brand managers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their brand using the six aspects of this prism. It also helps to find the ways of creating the brand loyalty and financial value.
According to J.Kapfer, brand identity could be de-fined by answering the following questions:
– What is the aim and individual vision of a brand?
– What makes a brand distinguished?
– How satisfaction could be achieved?
– What is brand’s equity?
– What are brand competence, validity and legitimacy?
– What are the features of its recognition?
It could be claimed that the conception of brand identity includes the uniqueness, meaning, aim, values, and personality and provides a possibility to position the brand better, and, thus, achieve the competitive advantage.
Kapferer, J.N. (1992), Strategic brand management: new approaches to creating and evaluating brand equality. Kogan Page, London, U.K.
Kapferer, J.N. (2004), The new strategic brand management (creating and sustaining brand equity long term)(3rd ed.). Kogan Page, London, U.K.