the marketer’s guide to developing a strong corporate and brand identity

The Marketer’s Guide to Developing a Strong Corporate and Brand Identity

Written by Lindsay Kolowich | @lkolow

brand-1

Chances are, if someone mentions GoPro, you think of a super-sturdy camera for the adventurous.

Why’s that? Because GoPro has done a good job defining its brand. Great brands like GoPro are easy to recognize. Their missions are clear, and they foster that customer loyalty all businesses crave.

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.

Crafting a brand is a shared endeavor, though. Customers, employees, blog readers (sound familiar?), and anyone who interacts with a business has a role in shaping the brand, which is why we’ve created a very short survey to see what HubSpot means to you. Because what it means to you will help us deliver on your expectations. (We’ll get to that a little later in the post.)

Do you know how your brand is doing? Does your business have a brand identity?

If it doesn’t, or your brand isn’t as strong as it could be, follow along with this post. Branding may seem like a fluffy concept, but we’re going to try to put some structure around it so any marketing team can get started defining their brand strategy.

For more tips about brand identity development, download our free branding guide here.

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 talk about how it applies to your branding strategy.

Determine Where Your Company Sits in the Market

Before you attempt to define your brand, you need to do some exploration. Take a long look at your company to get a clear picture of its purpose and place. The familiar SWOT analysis can help, actually. Here’s what each letter of the acronym stands for:

  • Strengths: Characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others.
  • Weaknesses: Characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: Elements that the project could exploit to its advantage.
  • Threats: Elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project.

When you do a SWOT analysis, you should involve everyone in your company, as well as some of your best (and worst — yes, your worst!) customers. This can be done with a simple survey that asks questions that get at the four points in the SWOT analysis. Or if you prefer, it can be achieved with an in-depth research survey and audit that looks at your brand awareness, usage, attributes, and even purchase intent. They are typically performed by an outside firm … but more on that later. You can also download our SWOT analysis template.

However you gather the information, once you get it, you should be able to sit down with your marketing team and clearly state your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you have a clear understand of your SWOT, it’s time to define your brand.