Nobody wants to be slick. Not a person and not a brand. Because it means that someone or something is elusive. Insignificant. What it or one really needs: rough edges. This is not meant in a negative way. No, rough edges create a personality and ensure that you are remembered. They give rise to exciting characteristics, identity traits, and core values.
We are neither psychologists nor social researchers. That's why we don't put forward any substantial theories about human identity crises and discoveries, but rather deal with the kind of identity we really know about. We are talking about the character of brands; the technical term is brand identity. As the combination of words suggests, there are many parallels to the identity we usually use to describe our own core being. The inner world of brands is similarly complex to the inner self.
For us as a communications agency, working with brand identities is a core discipline. We analyse them in-depth and based on this, work out strategies and develop successful branding. Picking up where we left off is a fundamental and promising approach to turning a brand into a margin. Because experience shows that a well-balanced brand identity is the root of a successful company.
From a company-internal perspective, the identity of a brand is the sum of properties and characteristic features that primarily distinguish the brand. The external effect does not play a role here. It is only a question of which defining and enduring characteristics are ascribed to the brand from within. A large part of this identity is already established with the founding as the "starting formation". From that moment on, its very own story begins: the brand is in a constant state of development, being tweaked, polished, reinterpreted, optimised, and imagined further. All that, this whole development process and the history, is also part of the brand identity.
Throughout the entire process, but especially during the founding phase, the focus is on differentiation. Unique added values, services, and offers are what make the brand competitive in the first place. At best, the special feature even culminates in a unique position. But the market is usually huge and fiercely competitive. Unfortunately, this ideal is rarely realisable and very difficult to achieve. But there's no need to worry because that's what good marketing is for.
For long-lasting success and margins, you don't have to reach for the stars right away by aiming for the "unique position". Being ambitious is good, but lofty brand positioning is almost always counterproductive. Would you like an assessment? No matter whether you are at, if you are just settling the last formalities of your company foundation or whether your company has long since gained a foothold in the market: We take a close look at the identity of your brand and give it a proper boost through integrated marketing that really suits your brand. That way, you will succeed in building a long-term brand image that will also record measurable successes.
Brand identity is a multi-layered concept that is based on internal and external interaction after the actual brand formation. Internal interests and external demands trigger a permanent but slowly evolving transformation. The development can be perceived particularly well if one compares the current actual state with an earlier one. How can the brand's self-perception be described today? What did it look like ten years ago? In this respect, the brand identity is open to change and automatically evolves with time. The core of the brand, however, must remain because it is associated with an overall image that is original to the brand. This holistic representation must be kept in mind for an authentic brand presence. Of course, the name, logo, visual guide, and corporate style, including colours and typography, can be changed in principle. But it depends on the context. How striking is the change? Is it the right timing? What is it supposed to express? Many important questions need to be clarified before a potential, and more or less striking type change of the brand.
Generally, the following applies: jumpy campaigns, a constantly changing design and a variable tonality damage the brand's recognition value. Most damaging for brands and their image, however, are obviously recognisable contradictions. No conflicting values, promises, and the like should be communicated under one and the same brand name. This makes the whole brand untrustworthy. The top priority is, thus, the alignment of a consistent brand strategy.
Since the 1930s, several models were developed, each interpreting the concept of brand identity differently and setting different emphases. Here we present what we consider to be a very clear and holistic concept; the so-called brand steering wheel by Franz-Rudolf Esch. It makes the following distinctions:
(1) Brand attributes: These are objective and neutrally provable characteristics as well as factual performances. They result in the so-called
(2) Brand benefit: Here the rational brand benefit is derived based on psychosocial reactions. The functional significance of the brand can also be determined from this. The assessment is made on a purely descriptive basis.
(3) Brand tonality: This bullet point is the evaluative counterpart to brand benefit. The question here is: What associations, experiences and feelings are linked with the brand? The answers are in turn significantly influenced by the so-called
(4) Brand image: The brand image includes, for example, logo, corporate design, brand style and the tonality of communication. In short: the appearance that the customer perceives directly and immediately.
(5) Brand competence: Here, the brand is evaluated in context. What were the circumstances of the founding? What has happened since then? What is the market environment like? And how should the brand be positioned in the future? Questions whose answers sometimes require foresight and abstraction. *
PS: We are happy to help.
As usual, the brand identity distinguishes between two target groups. The internal and the external. The internal target group includes all members of the company, starting with the employees and management up to the owners, subsidiaries, and the entire branch network. The external target group primarily includes customers, but also partners, competitors, and the media. As already mentioned, the internal target group determines at the beginning which characteristics, strategies and messages make up the brand. First and foremost, of course, the founders decide on the brand concept. After all, they invest their own capital in building the brand. After the formal foundation, the concept is then supported by the rest of the internal target group and automatically further developed. The first step of identity building is thus done. An image is transported to the outside world, which then solidifies as an image through the respective subjective perception of the external target group.
Because brand identity grows from within, the term is also understood as a value-based management concept. The demands and identity characteristics of the brand are transferred to employees. This not only ensures a high degree of authenticity, but - and this is perhaps even more important - also helps employees to identify more strongly with the company.
This means that a lot of different information, factors and mechanisms come together to form a mosaic of the identity of a brand. It can happen that the internal view of the brand differs from the external view. Such differences need to be constantly checked. They point to those aspects and subject areas of a brand that should possibly be worked out more precisely. In this respect, the differences between internal and external perception are a kind of "problem radar".
After (commissioned) extensive research and subsequent analysis, the internal stakeholder group is definitely smarter. Now, based on the points of difference, it can plan further projects and specifically adjust new investments to the external perception. Both perspectives, the internal and the external, are ideally close to each other. On this basis, campaigns and projects can be planned most effectively and high-turnover development can be realised through relevant advertising.
In short, it is the basis for every brand strategy. Only through it is brand management possible, i.e., the targeted development of the brand to a certain level. Precise positioning is also only possible if a basis for comparison is created. What is the brand identity of the competitors? In what ways does your brand differentiate itself from them? Differentiation is everything. Choosing the right starting point(s) and communicating them in a meaningful way is the big goal of marketing. However, this is only possible based on rock-solid brand identity. So, there is hardly a more important concept for entrepreneurial success than – how could it be otherwise – brand identity!
By definition, the brand image describes the external impact of the brand. Accordingly, brand image is a sub-area of brand identity. For the image, the only thing that matters is how the external target group reacts to the brand or what they associate with it. How is the brand perceived and judged? This in turn is directly related to the quality of the products or services offered. If the consumer judges a product to be good in terms of its purpose, then this judgement already makes a considerable contribution to a positive image. In addition to quality, product variety and the value that the consumer attributes to the product, the brand philosophy also plays an important role. What standards and guiding principles does the brand set for itself? Sustainability, for example, is currently one of the most popular principles and is definitely good for the brand image. However, which criteria are rated highly, both in terms of the brand philosophy and the products, always depends on subjective preferences. For one person, durability is important, for another, practicality, for a third, simply the low price. The same applies to the different principles that make up the brand image. Ultimately, the brand image depends on the best possible subjective satisfaction of needs. Accordingly, it depends on a precise target group analysis. Who does the brand want to address and how does it do this most efficiently? Through the holistic combination of analysis, strategy, creation, and realisation, we offer our clients the complete package - from a refined brand identity to a realised increase in sales.
More information is available from:
* Esch, F.-R.: Markenidentität als Basis für Brand Behavior, in: Herrmann, A./ Esch, F.-R./ Kernstock, J./Tomczak, T. (Hrsg.): Behavioral Branding: Wie Mitarbeiterverhalten die Marke stärkt, 2012, S. 39 ff