Articulating Your Brand Identity

David Aaker, a globally renowned brand strategist, speaks about brand identity as “the cornerstone of brand strategy.” In my view, brand identity is a brand’s DNA, it’s personality, behaviour, values and vision.

An analysis of any successful brand, local or global, has the common denominator of a strong sense of self. Strong brands know who they are and what they stand for.

The ideal situation is for your brand identity and how you perceive yourself to align with how your target customer sees your brand. This refer to your brand image. To assist in locking down your identity, I have unpacked Aaker’s Brand Identity Planning Model.

Aaker, in my experience, offers a very thorough system in mapping out your brand identity. This model essentially comprises of four tiers.

The first is a landscape or situational analysis which includes reviewing your customer, competitor as well as a light self-reflection. As Aaker describes, “brand identity provides a texture and richness” when articulated clearly.

The second tier, and in my view pivotal, is the brand identity system. This includes your brand’s essence. Your brand’s essence refers to the absolute epicentre of your brand. An example Aaker cites is Virgin’s essence which is ‘iconoclasm’ referring to challenging established norms and barriers. Virgin’s success is premised on this philosophy. Supporting elements Aaker proposes are extended elements which comprises a ‘Product, Organisation, Personality and Symbol’ (POPS). In some cases, all four elements can apply such as Vodafone or Nike and in others perhaps two or three at most, such as, Lady Gaga for example.

Once these elements have been fleshed out, Aaker incorporates the brand’s value proposition and credibility (where or what sources endorse your brand as credible.) Your value proposition really is the deliberate differential element communicated to your target audience. What’s fundamental to grasp is Aaker’s stance on brands moving beyond marketing on a functional basis otherwise you will be replicated by competitors.

Aaker speaks about your transcending your proposition into the emotional and or self-expressive territory. Here emotional refers to how you feel and self-expressive- what it says about you e.g. fit, accomplished, etc. A global example that I feel gets this right is Dove, a product of Unilever. At the most basic level, Dove is a soap. While it may have the 1/4 moisturiser, essentially its soap. Dove have engineered their product to play in the emotional space as seen in the ad below:

The last tier looks at tracking. It’s important as I share in my thinking to track and measure your marketing efficacy. You need to know what works and what doesn’t. In this vein, explore ways to ascertain whether how you see yourself and how your audience perceives you align. This can range from surveys to focus groups through to market share and pricing.

Image Source: Clem Onojeghuo, unsplash.com



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