What is Brand Identity?

First off, we need to look deeper into the meaning of brand identity. What is it? What role does it play? If you think about your favorite brand, you are definitely thinking of some particular features that define the brand’s personality, values and culture. Maybe you are thinking of an elegant, sleek design, or maybe you are visualizing a caring, sympathetic brand persona due to heightened CSR activities. This is what brand identity is all about. It is a visual projection of the brand, it is how the brand defines itself, and it’s how the brand is positioned in the minds of consumers.

Within this context, Jean-Noel Kapferer aimed to conceptualize brand identity in 6 elements and introduced the Brand Identity Prism. The Kapferer Brand Identity Prism provides thorough understanding of the concept of brand identity based on six elements which are interrelated through their position between the business and the client. Elements are either internal (personality, culture, self-image) or external (physique, relationship, reflection).

The key elements of Kapferer’s model are as follows:

1. Physique

The first element of the model is Physique and it encapsulates all visual characteristics of your brand such as the iconography and colour palette. The visual cues used are of utmost importance when it comes to helping consumers assign an identity to your brand. Make sure that all visual elements are representative of your brand’s personality and core values.

2. Personality

The second element examined by Kapferer is the Personality of your brand. Think of your brand as a person – What would be his main personality traits? How would he act?

By using brand personification, we can assess how brands are perceived by consumers. The brand’s typeface, color palette, font, writing tone and visual cues all play a synergistic role in crafting the brand’s personality.

3. Culture

Culture is the set of core values that the brand is principled on. It is the way of doing things and it is often influenced by the country of origin. A representative example here is Toyota – The company’s culture is laid out on lean manufacturing principles that aim to minimize waste and reduce non-value adding activities.

4. Relationship

This element focuses on the relationship between the brand and its customers. The main goal here is to build long-term, reciprocal relationships that are principled on mutual trust and respect. This can be achieved through exceptional customer service, after sales service, guarantees and everything that requires the brand to go an extra mile for its customers.

5. Self-image

The next element looks into the customer’s self-image. How do they want to look like? How do they want to be perceived by others? What image do they aspire? By answering these questions, brands can get a feel of how they can play their role in that self-image.

6. Reflection

Reflection is how a brand portrays its target audience. It includes the values and characteristics of a brand’s target audience and this is often communicated in ads and other communications.