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you need a powerful BRAND IDENTITY

Consumers attach real value to their relationships with their branded products and services. Creating a brand identity that inspires this kind of loyalty requires commitment. Your brand identity is your vehicle for differentiating yourself from the competition. A successful brand is instantly identifiable, and it also confers added value to a product or service. Consumers’ opinion about a product is shaped by their view of the brand; this is what drives sales, loyalty and supports premium pricing. Think of the value of Starbuck’s brand. Consumers will pay over £3 for a coffee when a cheaper alternative is often available. Starbuck’s brand communicates reliability and quality; consumers will pay a premium for this.

How to Create a Powerful Brand Identity?

A well-crafted brand identity is more than the visual images on the advertisements. Marketing of a brand needs to directly relate to your business strategy and mission statement. Large organisations do not always get this right. You might recall that The Gap changed their logo back in 2010 (see figure 1, below). The design itself was unpopular with consumers, but what was worse was the fact that the redesign said nothing about the brand. It did not appear to communicate anything new to consumers about the aims or values of the company.

Figure 1: The original and its (brief) replacement. Source: Aiga.org
A good brand identity cannot be cooked up in an ivory tower by executives and marketers. One of the most powerful brand assets a company can use is its employees. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, consumers trust employees more than a company’s PR department. When a consumer speaks with one of your employees, they are learning about your brand. If your employees are not convinced by your brand’s identity, your consumers definitely won’t be. Turning employees into brand ambassadors adds real value to your brand’s identity. Consumers are also an important part of building a strong brand identity. Marketers need a good understanding of how their brand is viewed by the public. This perception is known as ‘brand positioning.’ Identifying a brand’s position will tell marketers what consumers think about their products and what qualities and characteristics they associate with the brand. Very few, if any, brands can target every consumer. Rich and poor, old and young consumers all have very different needs. Consumers’ likes and needs are too diverse to be met by a single brand. Marketers who understand their brand’s identity know who their customers are. Targeting a segment of the market and shaping your brand identity to suit your customers can give a brand a huge competitive advantage.

Use the ‘marketing mix’ wisely

The ‘marketing mix’ used by marketers influences a brand’s identity and position. TV commercials, print media, online advertising and social media are all important aspects a successful marketing campaign. Compare the Market’s ‘meerkat’ adverts were one of the most effective marketing campaigns of recent years. UK-based Compare the Market is an online aggregator of car insurance offers. They were the fourth largest firm in a competitive marketplace. To make their brand stand out, Compare the Market designed a Russian meerkat, Aleksandr Orlov, to be their mascot in a series of TV commercials.

Figure 2: Aleksandr Orlov, the face of Compare the Market.
It became one of the most talked about media campaigns in recent years. Part of what made Aleksandr so successful was the mix of the TV adverts with a strong social media presence. The meerkat has his own Twitter and Facebook pages. Compare the Market has also released a book about Aleksandr and given away meerkat soft toys to customers. Other insurance companies, such as Go Compare, have introduced their own mascots. However, none has been as successful as Aleksandr. He helped Compare the Market to build a unique brand identity. Although the adverts were comical, they also told a story about the brand. Meerkats are sentries; they guard their families and friends, warning them of danger. Unlike The Gap, Compare the Market’s marketing tells the consumer about the company. A meerkat mascot shows consumers that they can trust Compare the Market to look after their interests. Consumers, marketers and employees are all important for building a strong brand identity. A great brand targets the right customers. Those customers build lasting relationships with the company. Building a brand identity requires a great deal of work, but rewards companies with loyal customers and increased profits.