Brand identity: why is it important and "how to"?

The construction of a culture driven by the brand is a lifelong commitment to a livelihood and a way of life that requires time, planning and an experience that produces intangible results that include greater customer satisfaction, lower price sensitivity , a low participation of customers, a greater proportion of client portfolios, more references and a higher percentage of repeat business.

Clients value their relationships with their brand possessions and with marketing agents and institutions that own and manage the brand.
The identity of the brand should focus on points of differentiation that offer a sustainable competitive advantage for the company. The brand identity is based on a deep understanding of the clients, competitors and the business environment of the firm.

The identity of the brand should reflect the commercial strategy and the willingness of the company to invest in the necessary programs for the brand to fulfill its promise to customers.

Strong brands enjoy customer loyalty, the potential to charge higher prices and the considerable brand power to support the launch of new products and services. Companies must have a thorough knowledge of the beliefs, behaviors, attributes of products or services and competitors of customers.

Let`s explain that with a relevant example:

A brand identity is something unique to a company and helps a company stand apart from others. Just think of "always Coca-Cola" and you probably already imagine the memory you have with Santa Claus coming to town bringing to everyone bottles of Coca-Cola.

Once a brand is established, let`s say Coca-Cola, whenever the brand advertises its products, customers associate that advertisement with the company itself.

Brand identity is available to every company, not just giants like Coca-Cola. To develop one identity, each brand must consider "why" they are established, their values, unique positioning (also known as the unique selling point) and a brand voice (how they communicate; can be a mascot or a person).


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More academic research on the topic:

1. Introduction

These days, a product or service is almost irrelevant without the brand. It can not be identified or associated with what influences our purchasing process. It is the global effort of a brand identity that really determines success or failure; and a better understanding of this and its result, namely the brand image, is an important issue.

Some of the problems identified by me are the complex processes of testing, design, evaluation and comparison of brand identities. As a result, a simple brand identity framework tested and compared to an existing brand identity plan will be created. When we talk about identity and image management, we discover a high degree of unpredictability, uncertainty and a factor of creativity added to the management lines. To have consistency within the company, is the best situation to reduce the risk and doubt associated with certain departments by the skeptical entities involved.

In the process of creating a brand identity, and more importantly an active brand identity, we prefer to have certain guidelines or frameworks to do so from the first attempt. As we all know, according to Lord Kelvin, what can be measured can be improved. Taking this into account, taking the dimension of the impact of the overall brand identity on the perception of a consumer, we can increase predictability, reduce risk and increase efficiency from the start of the development of a brand.

2. Literature review

2.1. Conceptual delineation

To define the well-known but confusing brand concept, we recognize the definition presented by AMA (American Marketing Association). Name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of them, intended to identify the products or services of a seller or group of sellers and differentiate them from those of competitors.
Another concept about the brand would be the opinion of Van Den Heaver (2000) that the definition mentioned above does not characterize the brand, but the following. He says that brands are what the entity wants its target customer to think and feel about their products or services. If we adapt this definition to the working document, we could say that it refers to an approach to brand identity.
According to Shiva N. (2005), it is said that the brand is not a tangible asset and has no physical existence and the value of such a thing can not be determined, except for specific commercial transactions. Therefore, we consider that a simple non-physical evaluation system of a brand identity for guidance purposes can be useful.
 Many other opinions can be discovered and perhaps accepted. But in the literature we can identify an agreement between Kotler P., Keller KL, (2006), Keller KL, (2003), Shiva N., (2004) and Duncan T., (2005) which states that a brand is a product . Or service differentiated by its positioning relative to the competition. From our point of view, these authors referred especially to what differentiation produces and we consider it a fair approach based on the most primitive form of the brand.
Another definition and conceptualization of a brand, which we consider accurate and that also links the brand with the brand image, is what says that a brand is not necessarily a product; but it is the essence of the product, its meaning and direction, and defines its identity in time and space. Very often, brands are examined through their components: the brand, its logo, design or packaging, advertising or sponsorship, or image or name recognition, or very recently, in terms of financial brand valuation; But it's not enough. However, the actual management of the brand starts much earlier, with a strategy and a coherent and integrated vision. Its central concept is the brand identity, not the brand image. This last definition may seem to contradict the course of our working document; but we must remind you that we are focused on the identity of the brand and not on the entire brand that is formed by the identity and image of the brand.

2.2. Identity of the brand

As the concept indicates, the identity of the brand is the way in which a company is identified. The consistency of this brand identity is formed by its characteristics such as culture, vision, personality, positioning, presentations, relationships and other beliefs of meaning followed by the entity.
In addition, the identity of the brand will be transformed into one or more of the following components to obtain the desired brand image: logo, clothing, signage, stationery, marketing material, messages and actions, products and packaging, emotions and other components. We also like to consider these components as the vehicle that leads to the desired brand image. Brand identity is the direction vehicles must follow to reach their destination, that is, the customer's perception.
It is common for companies to use brand strategies to communicate their identity and value to potential consumers and interested parties. It is the specialized departments or external agencies that must transmit and develop an adequate brand identity strategy.
For a brand to differentiate, it must follow a complex process considering the components of a specific importance. All the components with which the public will find themselves are relevant for the formation of the brand identity and, therefore, to create a brand image. The general description of the brand is developed during the meeting of the public with the identity of the brand, which is divided into the logo, the stationery, marketing materials, products and packaging, signage, design of clothing and messages and actions. We consider this process as a complex marketing strategy that requires the involvement of all levels that have an interest in the success of a particular product. This global effort results in the creation of emotional connections and loyalty to the target audience; and this is what we will also try to test at a basic level through our research work.
Of course, the brand concept is not recent; But only the term is something new. It has been used to identify and differentiate products from very early times. The word brand comes from the German language, which means to burn. Its basic general vision is to proclaim ownership of property and although this element has evolved widely and has become more complex, the concept of ownership is still present but with increasing importance over time. Shortly after the emergence of the concept of ownership, consumers began to have preferences from particular manufacturers or suppliers. It was always a strong association between identity and responsibility towards the client, which resulted in the desire of capital owners to differentiate and improve the identification and differentiation of their product or service.
The entire history of the brand is difficult and has suffered many influences from different trends. But when we discuss these things, it is important to update the knowledge related to the topic so that it is relevant.

2.3. Brand value

Considering the model of brand value based on the client, we have found 8 well-established conceptualizations of brand value in Eda (2009):
1. In 1993, Keller K. L. defined brand recognition and brand image as dimensions for brand value.
2. In 1994, Park, C. S., Srinivasan, V. said that the best dimensions for the value of the brand are the brand associations. As those that will be explained soon.
3. In 1995, Lane and Jacobson established that brand attitude and familiarity with the brand are creating brand equity.
4. Even in 1995, Cobb-Walgren, Ruble and Donthu recognize the value of the brand as perceived quality, brand recognition, brand associations and publicity knowledge.
5. In 1996, Aaker decided that the best dimensions of brand value are brand loyalty, perceived quality, brand recognition and brand partnerships.
6. In 2000, Yoo, Donthu and Lee agreed and updated the arguments for the establishment of Aaker from 1996.
7. Again in the year 2000, Berry says that the perception of the brand and the meaning of the brand are dominant for the client's perception.
8. And the last conceptualization specified in the book is from 2001, when Yoo and Donthu re-updated their 2000 arguments with the idea that brand value is brand loyalty, perceived quality, brand recognition and brand associations.

2.4. Personality marked

It is sure that brands have personality. From our point of view, we like to link the emotional dimension of the buying process with the impact of the personality of the brand.
The personality represents the emotional characteristic of the brand. It is influenced by positioning, as well as by the fundamental values ​​and culture of senior management. Shiva N., (2005). The personality of the brand is a complex and rich information regarding the entity. If it had been necessary for this working document to deepen the reflection of the personality of the brand in the image of the brand, we would have used the following dimensions defined by Lombard A. (2001): sincerity, enthusiasm, competence, sophistication, robustness.

3. Defining the Nescafe brand

Coffee consumption in Romania is due to macroeconomic factors, innovation and the price of raw materials. Last year, 9 out of 10 Romanians from urban areas, has consumed at least once a day a coffee and 25.6% of them take more than one coffee. Other figures related to this topic would be that 6.6% have used this product two or three times a day, while 1.5% consume only once a month and 0.8% more rarely. We must say that these facts come from a study called BrandExpress conducted by Daedalus MillwardBrown, through a continuous telephone survey in a sample of 1,000 respondents.
The local market is firmly anchored in the segment of roasted and ground coffee, both in retail and abroad. A great characteristic of the local coffee market is that consumers hardly change the taste with which they have become accustomed over time, so their loyalty to the brand is high.
The Nielsen Shopper Trends reports show that Romanians choose more to consume less coffee than to change their favorite brand. Other factors that can influence sales are the presence of the product in stores, the price and promotions. It should be mentioned that the decisive process of purchasing coffee is strongly linked to the availability of the product for purchase. Therefore, the Nescafe brand is present in all points of sale, both in traditional commerce and in modern commerce.

3.2. Profile of the Nescafé brand.

The concept of transparency is taken seriously by Nescafé; therefore, it was easy to identify the following characteristics of the Nescafe brand profile.
Mission - Nescafé is dedicated to making excellent tasting coffees for you to enjoy every day.
Mantra - Gathering people, great tasting coffee, Wellness. CEO - Paul Bulcke.
Target market: Nescafé's main target market is made up of coffee drinkers, especially those who are looking for a quick solution for good coffee.
Products - Coffee products (Nescafe Original, 3 in 1, Alta Rica, Cap Colombie, Espresso, Gold Blend, Green Blend, Cappuccino, Original Decaff, Decaffeinated Gold Blend) and Coffee Machines (Dolce Gusto).
Price - the average price of the serving is $ 0.20. Location: from convenient stores to supermarkets and, rarely, in restaurants, the cafes are in a similar location.

Presence of brand: is formed by the commitment of social networks, involving the community, print ads and road show.

3.3. The brand identity of Nescafé.

Nescafé is a strong brand that was established in Singapore about 70 years ago. The main associations of the Nescafe brand are the parent company Nestlé and the international profile of its varied range of coffee products.
Fortunately, every element of the brand identity presented previously by me is exploited by Nescafe. This will make it possible to test the frame in the Nescafe brand image.
To avoid the monopolization of this discussion by Nescafe, we will make a general assessment of your brand identity. The general brand is based on the following structure: easy to pronounce brand, brand consistency, Nestlé's high reputation and mix of media such as television commercials, radio, cinema, packaging, event sponsorship and sales promotion.

3.4. Nescafé in Romania

Nestle started its activity in Romania since 1995 with the purpose of bringing coffee, cereals, instant soup and baby food.
The Nestlé company during its presence in Romania had, for example, a turnover of approximately 150 million euros in 2009. Of course, Nestlé is the largest player in the instant coffee market in Romania with Nescafé. In Romania, Nescafé is the leading soluble coffee, with a portfolio of differentiated products based on the consumer's taste profile. Due to its accessibility in the store and in the price, it has a predominant market share for instant coffee.

4. Data and methodology

4.1. Research Problem

The research problem that we consider is the establishment of whether or not the system created by us has relevance and can be applied. Our goal is to test the impact of brand identity elements on the consumer's perception to have a better knowledge in the field and facilitate the process of creation and evaluation of a brand.
Studying at what level the logo design, the stationery, the marketing materials, the products and the packaging, the signage, the messages and the actions and the design of the clothes have an impact on the perception of the client that can be beneficial for the creation of brand identities. We also want to establish a hierarchy of importance in the perception of consumers regarding the logo, stationery, messages and actions, products and packaging, signage, garment design and marketing materials; and prove the possible existence of correlation between the mentioned factors.

4.2. Investigate objectives

It is mandatory to introduce the research component in the process of designing a brand identity to have an adequate brand identity that positively relates the brand image with the entity. Therefore, we decided to study the decisive purchase process with the help of brand identity and consumer perception. The objectives of our research will mainly focus on the brand identity framework and the impact of the presence of such strategy on consumer perception. Our main research objective is the creation of a map of the impact dimension of a brand identity of a consumer's product on the perception of a consumer. In addition, we will also present our primary and secondary objectives in a hierarchical manner, such as:
1.Develop a brand identity framework.
2. Study the impact of brand identity on consumers.
3. Establish a hierarchy of the importance of the components in the minds of consumers.
4. Study of the impact of Nescafe's brand identity on its clients

5. Study the correlation between the two impacts

4.3. Object of the working document.

Taking into account the objectives on which we decided to focus our work, we identified several appropriate questions.
- What are the main factors and vehicles that make up the brand identity?
- Which component of brand identity has the greatest importance?
- How big is the impact or what part of the buying process represents the identity of the brand?
- How big is the impact or what part of the buying process does Nescafe's brand identity represent?
With the help of this research, we want to create a simple system to evaluate a brand identity to improve the image of the brand and maybe accurately compare similar brands.
Of course, these actions become useful at the moment they are necessary. It is not easy to evaluate the identity of a brand or follow a random framework to create an active brand, but having a scale of evaluation and guidance would facilitate the work of the creator of the identity of the brand and this is our purpose through our document. work .

4.4. Method of data collection

During the design of the procedure that we would follow, we decided to carry out a descriptive investigation with empirical results. The decision was made because our work is developing and testing a description of people's perception.
We chose a sample size of approximately 10% of the 3rd year students of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; representing from our point of view a relevant size to make a generalization in this situation. As we had a specific objective and a process that required two step-wise questionnaires, we decided to collect our results electronically with the help of a database with specific topics.
The guidelines mentioned above for our sampling existed because our working document required relevant responses from respondents who are familiar with the brand concept. Our reason is not that those who are familiar with the brand concept are the only ones influenced by a brand identity, but in order to have relevant answers, we need the respondent to have an opinion on this matter.
Once the problem was formulated and we began to develop a primary investigation, we have made an extensive review of the literature to formulate a questionnaire as an instrument for research. To develop the impact dimension of our research, we use 7 components of brand identity established by us after extensive documentation: logo, stationery, marketing material, products and packaging, clothing, messages and action and signage.
In addition, in the questionnaire, we developed a table in which the respondent could rate each component according to the following semantic differential scale: "very strong, strong, neither strong nor weak, weak, very weak" and to interpret the data, they We attribute to each of the scales a value: 2, 1, 0, -1 and -2 respectively.
The first series of 100 questionnaires was completed in November 2012, and the second series was applied to the same respondents in March 2013.
The reason for this difference in the timeline was that we wanted respondents to forget and ignore previous responses received from them. This is important to eliminate biased responses in the second series of questionnaires and to have accurate answers that reflect your current opinion.

4.5. Questionnaire design

In order to have the necessary tools to achieve the established objective, we have developed two similar questionnaires that will make references to Nescafe's brand identity and brand identity (general).

4.6. Sample
Regarding the sampling method, we decided to follow the following quota guidelines: There are 1047 3rd year students in Iasi in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration distributed in 10 specializations.
 To have a relevant sample size to test our assumptions, we had 100 respondents, approximately 10%, and 200 questionnaires, 2 for each respondent.
The first series of 100 questionnaires was completed in November 2012, and the second series was applied to the same respondents in March 2013.
After applying the questionnaire according to the sampling establishment, we have selected the answers to adjust the sampling guide.

5. Results

To achieve our goal, the process requires a two-stage investigation.
The first stage of the research will be the development of an ideal impact map that can be reached through the identity of the brand and an evaluation system. The first stage will also provide us with a hierarchy among the factors. In the second stage, we will test a particular brand identity, Nescafe, to see the efficiency and applicability of our result and the effectiveness of the brand identity strategy of an entity that is in the 35th place among the best brands in the world . and 7th place in the main coffee brands in the world.

5.1. Acceptance of the association.

90% of the respondents agreed that this association (logo, stationery, signage, marketing materials, messages and actions, clothing, products and packaging) at the same time that the purchase decision is real. In addition, according to the responses we received, 87% of respondents accepted the existence of an emotional component and only 13% disagreed.