Please read the accompanying material to be used as a guide to developing a strong corporate and brand identity, then fill out the exercise to the right. For new businesses, adjust questions to future tense.
A brand is one of the most valuable assets of a business, and it needs to be carefully crafted to ensure it properly and authentically represents the business.
What is brand identity?
A brand is the "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers," according the American Marketing Association. Your brand identity is the representation of your company's reputation through the conveyance of attributes, values, purpose, strengths, and passions.
It includes what your brand says, what its values are, how you communicate its concepts, and which emotions you want your customers to feel when they interact with your business. As Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room."
The Brand Identity Prism
To help illustrate brand identity with a more holistic view of a brand, an internationally recognized corporate branding specialist named Jean-Noel Kapferer created a model he called the "Brand Identity Prism." The Brand Identity Prism illustrates six aspects of brand identity: physique, personality, culture, relationship, reflection, and self-image.
Image Credit: Salman Abedin
According to the model, the synthesis of each of these elements is what drives a brand's success. Here's what each of them means:
1. Physique is the recognizable, physical aspect of the brand.
It includes the logo, color scheme, packaging, and the online spaces and communities. If we're talking about Coca-Cola, it's stuff like the logo, the cursive font, the shape of its flagship glass bottle, and so on.
2. Personality is the brand's character.
It's how the brand communicates with the outside world. This might be expressed in a certain writing style or voice, design style, color scheme, and even by way of celebrity endorsements. Coca-Cola's personality is happy, playful, refreshing, and all about sharing and having a good time.
3. Culture is the value system and basic principles on which a brand bases its behavior.
There is an intimate connection between a brand's culture and its organization. Coca-Cola's culture is based around socializing and sharing.
4. Relationship refers to the relationship between people that a brand might symbolize.
One example would be a relationship between a mother and child, or among friends. Coca-Cola symbolizes an equal and friendly relationship among people in a community.
5. Reflection refers to the reflection of the consumer; in other words, the brand's most stereotypical buyer.
While a company might have multiple buyer personas, this is the "top" type of buyer. For Coca-Cola, this might be 15-18-year-olds who value fun, friendships, and sports, although Coca-Cola's target audience is much broader.
6. Self image is the consumer's ideal self.
It's kind of like a mirror the target persona holds up to him or herself. Marketers and advertisers can draw on their target audience's self image to direct their strategy and approach. A Coca-Cola drinker, for example, might see him or herself as social, communicative, and the type of person who seeks adventure and pushes boundaries.
Now that you have a better idea of what brand identity is, let's get into the steps to defining your brand.
the steps to corporate identity design & Development
Developing or refining a corporate identity is a five-step process that aims to clearly define what your brand stands for: its goals, its personality, the emotions you want people to experience when they come into contact with your brand, and a clear conveyance of that identity through a positioning statement. Here's what you'll need to create to do that:
Step 1: Vision Statement
A vision statement describes what you want your company to become in the future. It should be aspirational and inspirational. Ideally, the statement should be one sentence in length and should not explain how the vision will be met. (Don't worry, that'll come later.)
When developing your vision, keep these questions in mind:
- What are your most important products and services?
- What products and services will you never offer?
- What is unique about doing business with your brand?
- How would your customers describe your brand?
- Where do you want your company to be in five years?
To give you an idea of what you should end up with, take a look at JetBlue's vision statement:
JetBlue Airways is dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel."
Step 2: Mission Statement
A mission statement defines the purpose of the company. It should be simple, straightforward, articulate, and consist of jargon-free language that's easy to grasp. It should be motivational to both employees and customers. When crafting your mission statement, keep these tips in mind:
- What are the specific market needs the company exists to address?
- What does the company do to address these needs?
- What are the guiding principles that define the company's approach?
- Why do customers buy from you and not your competition?
To give you an idea of what a good mission statement looks like, take a look at The Walt Disney Company's:
The Walt Disney Company's objective is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products. The company's primary financial goals are to maximize earnings and cash flow, and to allocate capital toward growth initiatives that will drive long-term shareholder value."
Step 3: Essence
Say, what? That's right, your essence. This sounds fluffy, but seriously, you need to develop an "essence."
The essence of the company speaks to the intangible emotions you want your customers to feel when they experience the brand. A brand's essence is the representation of the company's heart, soul, and spirit, and is best described with one word. When defining the essence of your brand, consider these points:
- When your customers experience your product or service, what emotions does the encounter elicit?
- If your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality?
- Check out this SlideShare: "The 9 Criteria for Brand Essence."
- Read this blog post on cultural archetypes.
Here are some great samples of brands' essences:
- Volvo is "safe."
- Disney is "magical."
- Lamborghini is "exotic."
Step 4: Personality
Just as with humans, a brand's personality describes the way a brand speaks, behaves, thinks, acts, and reacts. It is the personification of the brand: the application of human characteristics to a business. For example, Apple is young and hip, whereas IBM is mature and set in its ways.
What personality do you want to put forth when people experience your brand?
- Are you lighthearted and fun?
- Are you serious and all business?
- Are you down-to-earth?
- Are you playful or matter-of-fact?
Step 5: Position or Value Proposition
A brand positioning statement, or value proposition, is a one- or two-sentence statement that clearly articulates your product or service's unique value, and how it benefits customers. It must define the audience, define the category in which the brand exists, cite a clear product or service benefit, set your brand apart from your competitors, and instill confidence the brand will deliver on its promise.
When crafting a positioning statement, consider:
- To whom are you speaking? (Target market, demographic, and persona)
- Which market segment does your product or service serve?
- What is your brand promise? (Both rational and emotional)
- Why is your product or service different from the competition, and why should your customers care?
For instance, Warby Parker has a great brand positioning statement:
Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses."