brand-identity-prism

Kapferer Brand Identity Prism In A Nutshell

Developed in 1986, the prism has become a major contributor to the importance of storytelling in brand development and consumer awareness. The Kapferer Brand Identity Prism is a framework for clarifying brand identity through six different brand characteristics. Those comprise physique, personality, culture, relationship, reflection, and self-image.

Understanding the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism

To provide a more holistic depiction of brand identity, management consultant Jean-Noel Kapferer developed six core elements – with each illustrated as one corner of a prism.

Over thirty years later, Kapferer’s model remains a valuable means of creating a brand that reflects the core values of a business.

In the next section, we’ll look at each of the six elements in more detail.

The six elements of the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism

Kapferer argues that brand success is driven by the company-wide adoption of six elements.

Physique

This describes the physical characteristics of a brand, most often represented in a logo, iconography, and color palette. It also extends to the physical form of products and services. Physique is considered the basis of a good brand because it dictates how that brand is perceived among consumers. 

In other words, what emotions does a brand inspire and how it can physically embody those emotions? For example, Nike’s dynamic swoosh evokes confidence, joy, energy, and exuberance.

Personality

Personality is the voice of a brand, dictating what a brand says and how the brand should say it. Importantly, personality is not limited to verbal communication. It also includes such things as font choices, communication tone, design, and copywriting.

With bold color choices and a scripted font, Coca-Cola is perceived as a happy-go-lucky person who is the life of the party.

Culture

It may surprise some that internal culture is also an important part of brand identity. Google’s culture as a flexible and creative workplace is reflected in their products and services. Tesla’s culture of innovation was created by an internal culture where employees are encouraged to share their new ideas.

Relationship

Relationship encompasses the engagement that occurs between brand and consumer. Here, engagement does not mean money changing hands. Instead, it looks at how a brand maintains a positive association with its target audience by exceeding their expectations.

Apple’s unwavering focus on usability and exemplary customer service has earnt them an unbreakable relationship with millions of customers.

Reflection

Reflection in brand identity describes the depiction of a target audience or buyer persona in brand advertising. Some brands like Coca-Cola appeal to a wide range of buyer personas because its fun and playful personality attracts consumers across a wide demographic. 

In a more specific approach, Marlboro and their strong, masculine, cowboy-themed promotions sought to target smokers who displayed similar traits. 

Self-image

Self-image encompasses the feeling a consumer wants to receive after interacting with a brand – usually via a purchase. Businesses should aim to determine the aspirations, goals, and values of the target audience – and then seek to embody these characteristics. When a consumer purchases a luxury car, for example, they are buying because of the status and prestige of the branded badge on the hood.

Completing the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism

Once the six elements have been clarified, they are then divided into four broader categories:

  1. Picture of sender – or the way that a brand presents itself. Physique and Personality fall under this category.
  2. Picture of receiver – or the way that consumers see a brand. Reflection and Self-Image belong in this category.
  3. Externalization – or all visible brand outputs such as logo and advertising, best represented by Relationship.
  4. Internalization – or internal brand drivers that represent Culture – such as values, history, leadership, and human resources.

Key takeaways:

  • The Kapferer Brand Identity Prism identifies six elements that compose brand identity: physical elements, personality, culture, relationship, reflection, and self-image. 
  • The Kapferer Brand Identity Prism focuses on the storytelling aspect of brand development and is comprised of evergreen marketing principles that have been relevant in business for decades.
  • Ultimately, the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism is a complete and precise means of brand formation for businesses who want to communicate to their target audience in a highly personalized manner.

Connected Marketing Concepts

Affiliate Marketing

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Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

ambush-marketing
As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Brand Building

brand-building
Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

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The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

brand-positioning
Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

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Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

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Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

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A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

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Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

guerrilla-marketing
Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

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Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

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Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

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The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

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Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

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Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

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Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

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A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

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Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

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Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

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