What Is The Brand Identity Prism? Components And Benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many potential strategies can help a brand align its goals, values, mission and policies behind a cohesive identity. One tool you can use to evaluate and influence the presentation of a brand's identity is the brand identity prism. Understanding this model can help you make decisions that positively affect a brand. In this article, we answer the question, ‘What is the brand identity prism?', list its six components and review the benefits of this model.

What Is The Brand Identity Prism?

To understand the answer to the question, ‘What is the brand identity prism?', it is important to know that marketing experts look at a brand as a combination of several factors that make it successful. The brand identity prism is a model created by marketing professor Jean-Noel Kapferer who said that there are six distinct but connected segments that brands use to tell engaging stories to customers, employees and other stakeholders. The model helps a brand understand and enhance all aspects of its identity.

The brand identity prism considers various aspects of a brand, from its internal values to the impression it makes due to its choice of packaging materials. While a brand can prioritise certain areas of the prism based on individual requirements, each area is equally important within the prism. Learning how each segment works and how they work together can help brands develop a comprehensive strategy for success.

Related: How To Create A Successful Brand Positioning Strategy

Components Of The Brand Identity Prism

There are six components of the brand identity prism that combine to form a brand's narrative:

Physique

The first component of a brand's identity is its physique, or physical characteristics, that build the brand's image. This includes visual attributes like the packaging, logo, designs and colours. The brand's physique refers to the physical, yet to some degree intangible and abstract characteristics that consumers associate with the brand and that help brand recognition.

These visual features, usually an intentional and consistent part of a brand's products and marketing materials, create a cohesive narrative in the consumer's mind. When companies decide how they want their target audience to perceive their brand, it is these physical elements that they use to shape the brand's nature and characteristics. For example, a tech company may create a modern, innovative physique for its brand using sleek packaging materials and designs.

Personality

A brand's personality refers to the brand's image in the eyes of its customers and the way customers would describe it. A good way to describe a brand's personality is to list its features as if it were a person. You can do this by asking questions like:

  • Is it casual or professional?

  • What kind of audience prefers it?

It is also important that brands have a consistent personality matching the rest of their identity. For instance, a brand that uses a specific tone and colour for its packaging and designs might prefer to reflect a matching personality in its written and oral communication and advertising. Brands also consider customer-facing policies and goals while deciding on their personality. A brand may align customer-facing policy decisions and goals behind its desired personality. For example, a deodorant company may want to create a joyful brand and use positive and bright colours in advertising and communications.

Culture

A brand's culture refers to its internal identity. This includes aspects like brand values, beliefs and mission statements along with considerations like demographics and how the brand originated. You can learn about a brand's culture by interacting with the employees and learning more about their work and daily activities.

Self-image

Self-image is how customers view themselves and how a particular brand helps them reach these goals. It is important to know the audience well so that you know how to pitch with precision. A psychological evaluation revealing why people choose their preferred brands and how these brands can incorporate this self-image into their identity can help the brand succeed.

Brands create marketing campaigns that align with consumers' ideas of their ideal selves. This can help customers see how the brand lets them become better versions of themselves. For example, a luxury clothing line might use advertising to showcase how it is perfect for high-income groups, therefore encouraging anyone who wants to live a luxurious lifestyle to purchase its products.

Reflection

There is a subtle but key difference between self-image and reflection. Whereas self-image refers to how customers perceive themselves, reflection is what brands think of their customers. It refers to the brand's idea of its typical customer base and how it uses that for advertising and marketing efforts.

For example, the majority of customers of a beverage company may be teenagers or young adults. It designs promotional materials that portray its customers as sociable and carefree. This influences a potential customer interested in having a good social life to consider purchasing the company's products. Creating a framework like this for the customer base can help brands communicate their identity more effectively.

Relationship

The final component, the relationship, refers to the brand's relationship with its customers. Brand owners can decide what kind of relationship they want to develop with their customer base. A brand's interaction with its customers can affect its larger identity. For example, an electronics company that has countless customers around the world may want to foster long-term relationships, because any change in its customer policies could affect their customers' buying habits.

Related: Relationship Marketing Campaigns: 5 Winning Strategies

Benefits Of Using The Brand Identity Prism

These are some of the advantages of using the brand identity prism:

Cohesive brand identity

Understanding the brand identity prism is important for brands to express their identity and understand how each aspect of the prism contributes. The contribution of each aspect can help the brand work out which areas are most influential in developing its identity. This can also help it determine whether some aspects require improvement. For instance, a brand may realise that it could make its personality match its products better. This can motivate the brand to prepare targeted strategies to build a cohesive personality for the market.

Differentiation

For a brand to develop a strong impression in the minds of customers and distinguish itself from competitors, it is important for it to understand its identity. A brand can focus on all aspects of the prism to strengthen its identity and make itself more visible to all stakeholders. For example, a brand may create ground-breaking advertising or engaging social media posts to differentiate itself from its competitors.

Goal setting

Understanding strengths and areas for improvement within a brand's narrative can help it create meaningful plans to improve specific areas of the business. This can allow a brand to create actionable, achievable goals like improving customer relationships or strengthening its internal culture. Additionally, a brand can use the prism categories to prioritise policies or improvements based on its ability to influence the narrative.

Related: 15 Tips For Goal Setting

Problem solving

A brand can use aspects of the brand identity prism to create lasting, narrative-based solutions to problems or concerns. For example, a brand may find it challenging to find new customers. After using the prism, the brand may learn that it could appeal to new customers by creating more colourful packaging and connecting that to its visibly vibrant personality. This may help the brand reach more customers in the short term, but also develop a framework for engaging with customers in the future.

Customer satisfaction

Employees helping build a brand who are fully aware of its identity often view it from the customers' perspective and consider the current customer experience with their brand. For example, being aware of the brand's policies and their effect on customer relationships can help to understand what it feels like to be a consumer of the brand. They could use this information further to draft policies and goals that improve the customer experience and inspire them to continue doing business with the brand.

Employee satisfaction

Similarly, looking at a brand from the perspective of an employee or other internal stakeholder can highlight examples of the brand's internal culture. This can offer areas for improvement within an organisation, providing employees with a clearer understanding of the brand's mission, values and purpose. Additionally, encouraging all employees to align behind a cohesive brand may increase their dedication to the company, creating more motivated, satisfied employees.

Profitability

Creating a cohesive narrative can help a brand invent efficient strategies to acquire new customers and motivate current customers to purchase additional products or services. This can increase a brand's profitability. When a brand is better able to articulate its story, it can more easily tell it to customers, which may encourage engagement. This increased engagement, combined with more motivated employees, can lead to more productive and profitable interactions with customers and other stakeholders.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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