Brand Identity Prism

An obvious benefit of using a human being for a metaphor for a brand is that it becomes much more easy, especially for non-experts, to understand and discuss what a brand stands for. Consumers easily perceive brands as if they would have personality traits.

What is the Brand Identity Prism?

According to Jean-Noel Kapferer, brand personality should be just one key facet of brand identity.

Jennifer Aaker deserves credit for having revitalized the human metaphor for a brand, but she is causing conceptual confusion by merging a number of dimensions of brand identity into brand personality. Kapferer recommends to revitalize to the original terminology of brand identity as the overall brand descriptor.

prism_tropicana_example

The Brand Identify Prism model has 6 dimensions on which a brand is to be evaluated.

  1. Physical Facet talks about what the product is, what does it do, how does it add value to customers, how does it fill up the gap in the market.
  1. Brand personality is measured using those traits/features of consumer personality that are directly related to brands. Proper care should be taken not to confuse it with consumer’s reflection. Brand personality is closely linked with self image and image of the consumer. Questions to be asked include:

1) What are the features of consumer personality?

2) What are the features of brand if it was a person? This depends on the functional aspect of the product and the gap it would fill.

  1. Brand Culture: As the name signifies, it talks about the culture of the brand. The values and the principles will follow from the culture and it is these values which will bind the customers. Remember HSBC’s “The World’s local bank.”  Questions include:

1) Is the brand’s culture global?

2) What are the values for which the brand stands for?

3) How would customers take the values of such a brand?

  1. Brand Relationships: No prizes for guessing what would this be about! Yes, after all every brand has to maintain healthy relationships with customers. All marketing collaterals are intended to do just that. Therefore to gauge the identity, this had to feature.

1) How would Sales describe the relationship attributes for their customer management process?

2) How would Customer support describe their approach to increasing customer satisfaction?

3) How does the brand want to be seen by customers in marketing communication?

  1. Customer Reflection: Every product is designed to satisfy some need of the intended customer base. A consumer has to be reflected in a way, which would show how he or she could image himself consuming a particular good. For example, in India anyone consuming Pepsi Cola would imagine himself to be young and Thums up (another cola drink from Coke stable) to be adventurous. For this aspect, questions are to be put to customer experience team about What would the users imagine while using the product?
  1. Customer Self Image: Consumers get attracted to those brands in which they see their own traits, for example, a man who is muscular and strong would smoke Marlboro. This goes hand in hand with brand personality.

Physical Facet, Brand Relationship and Customer reflection are externalization factors whereas the rest represents internalization.

Origin of the Brand Identity Prism

To understand Kapferer’s model it is useful to read a bit of history:

Already in 1958, Martineau used the word “brand personality” to refer to the non-material dimensions that make a shop special: its character.

In the 60s and 70s there was a growing dissatisfaction with equating the product and the brand. A typical example of that was the term “Unique Selling Proposition” or USP from Rosser Reeves.

In 1982, Saguela, a VP of an adverting agency, recommended that all brands be described along three facets:

  1. Physical. What does the product do and how well does it perform?
  2. Character. Brand personality facet.
  3. Style. Operational elements for adverting and communication.

In the late 80s, Ted Bates introduced the term “Unique Selling Personality.” As a consequence, in the famous ‘copy strategy’ – the essential single sheet which summarizes the advertising strategy as related to copy – it became widespread to see a new item to be filled by account executives: brand personality.

Analogously to the use of the term “personality” in psychology, on the research side, the brand identity frameworks always quoted brand personality as a dimension of brand identity – namely those traits of human personality that can be attributed to the brand. Among the other dimensions are:

  • Brand inner values (cultural facet)
  • Brand relationship facet (its style of behavior, of conduct)
  • Brand-reflected consumer facet
  • Brand physical facet (its material distinguishing traits)

Source: Jean-Noel Kapferer – The New Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining …

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