Brand Identity Prism

Jean-Noel Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism is a model that helps businesses build strong, enduring brand identities that reflect their core values. It proposes that a brand’s success is driven by a company-wide utilisation of the following elements:

  • Physique

The physical characteristics and iconography of your brand. Think of the dynamic Nike swoosh, the sleek styling of Apple or the bold orange pantone of easyJet. Kapferer said the physique should be considered the basis of the brand; it is the clearest visual representation of your brand’s aspirations and how you wish it to be perceived.

In determining your brand’s physique you should consider what your products or services look like, what emotions they inspire and how that might look like in their physical form.

  • Personality

How a brand communicates with the outside world, which is expressed through its tone of voice, its design and its copywriting. Coca-Cola’s happy and playful persona is expressed through its bold colour choices, scripted font and brand messaging that centres on having a great time with friends and family.

A brand needs to define its tone of voice and its design assets and then integrate this into all communication touchpoints: website, apps, direct mail, emails, internal comms and so on.

  • Culture

The value system and the principles on which a brand bases its behaviour. Tesla’s culture, for example, encourages its workforce to innovate and throw in ideas to keep the brand at the forefront of technological change. Google’s culture, recently voted as the best in the tech industry, promotes flexibility, creativity and a fun environment – all things that it wants to be known for outside of its colourful and inspirational offices.

  • Relationship

The relationship between the brand and its customers, and what the customer hopes they are getting from the brand beyond the actual product or service. John Lewis are famed for their product warranties and after-sales service, which has helped them foster a relationship of trust and mutual respect between buyer and seller.

  • Reflection

The stereotypical user of the brand. A brand is likely to have several buyer personas but they will have a go-to subset of their target market that they use in their messaging. Apple, for example, appeal to all kinds, but associate their products with vibrant, adventurous and energetic people, irrespective of age, weight, race, etc.

  • Self-image

How the customer sees their ideal self. By understanding a customer’s ‘ideal identity’ – how they want to look and behave; what they aspire to – brands can target their messaging accordingly. Is your customer’s ideal self outgoing, intellectual, extroverted, refined, cheap-and-cheerful, rich-and-also-cheerful-on-account-of-how-rich-they-are? Work out what your customer wants to look like and make your brand’s aspirations reflect theirs.