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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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:
- Picture of sender – or the way that a brand presents itself. Physique and Personality fall under this category.
- Picture of receiver – or the way that consumers see a brand. Reflection and Self-Image belong in this category.
- Externalization – or all visible brand outputs such as logo and advertising, best represented by Relationship.
- Internalization – or internal brand drivers that represent Culture – such as values, history, leadership, and human resources.
- 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
Other strategy frameworks:
- AIDA Model
- Ansoff Matrix
- Balanced Scorecard
- BCG Matrix
- Design Thinking
- Lean Startup Canvas
- Pestel Analysis
- Technology Adoption Curve
- Total Addressable Market