In this article I will talk about several well-known approaches to brand-building and what they all have in common.
Aaker: Brand Identity Model
Aaker’s approach is probably one of the most cited theories of brand-building. It is based on the notion that a brand consists of several layers, where the brand essence helps to set the brand apart from the competitors and ties together the elements of its core and extended identity (in later works, Aaker noted that brand essence can be substituted by the core identity). The extended identity may include elements from any of the following categories: Product, Organization, Person, Symbol. The system of brand identity also includes, according to Aaker, value proposition as well as brand credibility and the relationship between brand and customer.
Kapferer: Brand-Identity Prism
Kapferer sees brand as a system consisting of six parts. Some of them consider the brand from the sender’s point of view and some of them demonstrate the recipient’s view.
- Physique – how the brand looks (logo, color, etc.) and what important physical attributes the branded product offers.
- Personality – a unique brand personality, which can be connected to a real person (brand ambassador) or express the qualities of an imaginary person. Personifying the brand helps to build a brand-consumer relationship at a later stage.
- Relationship – how the consumer sees its relationship to the brand.
- Culture – often a broad cluster of associations, e.g. a certain lifestyle or the country of origin, if this is part of the brand communication strategy.
- Reflection – how the brand sees its typical consumer or its target customer.
- Self-image – how the target customers see themselves or what qualities of their character (real or desirable) they want to express through the brand usage.
Keller: CBBE model or Brand Pyramid
At the bottom of the CBBE model lies the definition of brand identity which ensures brand recognition by the target user. This is followed by brand meaning, i.e. the associations the user has with the brand. Brand meaning is divided into performance (satisfaction of functional needs) and imagery (satisfaction of psychological needs). The next level is the reaction to the brand, i.e. positive reactions to the brand in the prospective buyer, which are, in turn, divided into judgments about the brand and emotions (feelings) associated with the brand. At the top of the pyramid is the relationship between the customer and the brand, which is based, among other things, on how much the customer identifies with the brand.
The upper parts of the pyramid cannot be reached until the lower parts are worked out. For example, without constructing a brand identity, it is impossible to evoke the right brand associations.
Similarities among branding approaches
By reflecting on these three branding models, we can find the following commonalities:
- Brand-building is viewed as multi-step, multi-layer process
- The first step is always the creation of “physical” brand identity, such as brand name, logo, slogan and assigning colors to the brand.
- This is followed by creating and communicating a set of positive associations with the brand and the product/service, something that makes it unique. In other words, this is the USP of the brand.
- The next step is “emotionalizing” the brand, e.g. by connecting it to a certain type of personality or to a certain type of lifestyle. Strong brands event succeed in creating a whole “brand world”.
- The final step in brand-building is nurturing the relationship between the brand and the target customer, which leads to higher brand loyalty.
The drawback of all of these theories lies in the fact that they fail to explain how brand-building takes place through different marketing channels. This is the area where more empirical research is needed.