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Establishing Your Brand Identity

In a natural attempt to be liked, brands often find themselves in a position where they try to be everything to everyone and, as nice as that seems, it adds no value to the brand equity a brand aims to build.

In its simplest form, a brand is a combination of perceptions associated with that specific brand and it is in this understanding that the importance of having a consistent brand experience is revealed; each contact point (brand extension) either contributes to or detracts from the perception being created or which has already been created.

You may ask why it is important to have a clear and concise brand perception. Well the value is affirmed in the well-known example of Volvo and its association with the word, “safe” – Own a brand adjective in a specific industry and you’ll likely own the sector.

Understandably, such clear brand positioning doesn’t just happen overnight but, as The Cluetrain Manifesto (Locke, Searls, Weinberger & Levine 2009) suggests, companies attempting to position themselves should rather just take a position and then continuously assume that position and reiterate it at every opportunity.

In order to do so effectively, a brand needs to establish a fixed set of associations which it intends to achieve and maintain. A useful model for this exercise is Brand Identity Model (Aaker & Joachimsthaler 2009), which will help you establish the specific set of associations that will form your brand’s identity.

  • The brand identity model will help you establish:
  • Your brand’s essence
  • It’s core identity
  • The brand’s extended identity, which takes into consideration how it will be presented in various frameworks (E.g. as a symbol, a product, a personality or an organization)
  • The value propositions your brand offers customers on an emotional, functional and self-expressive level.

“If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything” – Irene Dunne, a truth that can’t ring truer for brands.

See further details on a section of the Aaker Brand Identity Model attached.

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