Your Brand has an Image, but Does it Have a Great Personality too?

Your brand is not what you think it is! It’s what your customers think it is; its brand image, personality and its value to them.

I was lecturing at Miami University a few years ago on brand image and personality. These are two vital elements of branding. They need to be clear and consistently represented in all your communications.

If you’re having issues with your own brand in either of these areas, then you’ll find the following article both interesting and valuable.

 

Why We Buy Brands

According to Wikipedia, a brand is:

“a set of marketing and communications methods that help to distinguish a company from competition and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.” 

Although this definition in my opinion, is a little sterile for something as exciting as branding, I do appreciate that it mentions customers. However, for me, a brand is created in both the minds and hearts of its customers.

There has been so much said about the importance of emotions and resonating with the customer, that we shouldn’t forget it. But be honest we often do! And this is where image and personality play vital roles. They are both more or less created in the heart, rather than in the mind of the customer.

We usually buy brands without even knowing why we buy them. We can, of course, provide a clear, reasoned answer if asked, but explanations come from the mind. The heart is what makes us buy.

 

Branding Elements

A brand is made up of a number of components, with which people learn to identify and recognise it. These include its logo, colour, pack, shape, taste, aroma, sounds and feel. There may also be other things that are directly associated with the brand, such as a celebrity, an event or a cause it supports.

A brand needs to have a clear image, personality and equity in the minds of its customers. These come not only from these branding elements, but also from the customer’s own personal experience with it.

All these factors must be both respected and complementary in order to build a strong brand with which customers can identify themselves. If they’re not, then the brand is at risk of not developing correctly, or even worse, of becoming just a commodity.

Therefore, It is vital for marketers to know and understand what their brand means to its customers. Not just what it means for their organisation. And then, of course, to follow it over time through regular measurement.

 

Brand Image Essentials

A brand is associated with many thoughts and ideas, that we translate into statements or attributes for measurement purposes. These are what current and potential customers think or feel about it. They may have developed from exposure to its communications, as well as from their own personal experiences.

These elements are usually grouped into three types: the rational/functional benefits, the subjective/emotional elements and the cultural/relational factors.

The third group was added by David Armano of Edelman Digital almost fifteen years ago.  Continue Reading

Brand Recognition and How People Recognise Brands

Brands are expressed in many ways, many of which will help build brand recognition.

I wrote a highly popular post on the topic last year, which I would recommend reading first for background, if you missed it. It’s called “What Every Marketer Needs to Know about Brand Image, Equity, Personality & Archetypes”

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about what brands are, above and beyond their names, logos and the product or service they offer.

Which of them have a face, a voice, an aroma, a unique packaging, a slogan or a sound that immediately identifies them? And if they do, what does it bring in addition to the brand in terms of brand recognition?

Here is a very personal perspective of some of the best examples in each area. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

 

Face

Some of the faces which represent brands are of celebrities, others of unknown people who become celebrities.

One of the first faces I think of for a brand is Flo from Progressive. She has won the hearts of Americans over the years, with her helpful but quirky discussions with potential customers.

Flo has also made insurance less confusing and more friendly through her “girl next door” looks and sparky attitude. Here’s one of the more recent ads with Flo.

 

In 2012, an animated box was added to their campaign concepts, to represent the company’s products. Apparently, the vast number of ads with Flo – over 100 – had resulted in a “love her or hate her” relationship as some found her off-putting.

Take a look at an example below from a few years ago and decide for yourself if the animated box is better than Flo.

 

 

George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for many years now. He started as smooth and superior, but over the years he has become more approachable, even funny. The latest commercials actually show him being injured in various ways, from falling pianos to “Mafia-type makeovers!” They are always entertaining, even for non-Nespresso drinkers.

 

 

Perhaps Nestle is trying to open their appeal to younger coffee drinkers who enjoy humour and hoping that the videos get shared on social media?

There are many other examples of “faces” that we now immediately recognise and associate with their brands. Even if some have been dropped over the years, they still maintain their strong connection:

SC Johnson’s Mr Clean and the muscle man

Quaker Oats and the Quaker.

Coca-Cola and the Polar Bear

Marlboro and the Cowboy – Darrell

Duracell / Energiser and the Pink Bunny

 

Each face is chosen to represent the brand because it fits with the values with which it wants to be linked.

The Muscle man suggests toughness, never tired, perfect for house cleaning when you want the quickest and easiest solution to difficult jobs.

The Quaker implies integrity, harmony, simplicity, perfect for natural products.

The Polar Bear is associated with cold, stimulating, refreshing liquid (ocean), perfect for a carbonated soft drink. Continue Reading

How to Stop Brand Decline: Following Brand Image is More than Meets the Eye

If the headline caught your eye, then you are probably challenged by a declining brand. Am I right?

Unfortunately for you, I’m not going to give you an easy five-step solution to turn around that faltering, or dying brand. And I will chastise you for letting it get that far! But I’ll also give you five ideas to help you understand why your brand is declining.

I was speaking with an ex-colleague of mine who is frustrated by her boss – aren’t we all at times? She is working on a brand that is globally doing OK, but the brand image results are beginning to show some worrying signs. The most important attributes identified for the product are all trending in the wrong direction.

Her boss continues to argue that since sales are good, why should they worry? He even went further and claimed that as the brand’s sales were doing well, there was no reason to continue to measure its image! This is just madness; wouldn’t you agree?

Brand image metrics are one of the best ways to follow the health of the brandif you are following the right attributes. 

By right I mean metrics that are relevant for the brand and the category. I have heard marketers request to measure their advertising slogans in a brand image study. This is obviously wrong, but it still comes up regularly when I’m working with a relatively inexperienced marketer. The reason you don’t is because slogans change, but the essence of a brand shouldn’t.

So if you don’t measure its advertising (directly), what should you measure? I think that the three most important areas to cover are:

  • the rational, functional benefits
  • the emotional, subjective benefits
  • the relational, cultural benefits

Let me give some examples, so you better understand:

  • Rational, Functional: removes stains, has a crunchy coating, offers 24-hour service.
  • Emotional, subjective: trustworthy brand, high quality, makes me more attractive.
  • Relational, cultural: a Swiss brand, trendy, traditional

In addition to these three image areas, I would suggest you also follow the brand’s personality and value perception. Both of these will impact its image and can provide clues to help understand changes in the image.

One further best practice is to also follow your main competitors so you have a good perspective of the category and its main selling points. Sometimes declines in image come from a competitor emphasizing an attribute for which you were previously known. As a result, although your brand hasn’t changed anything, its association with the attribute can decline due to the competitive actions.

Coming back to my friend and her manager, she asked me what she could do to persuade her boss to continue measuring brand image. This is what I told her to discuss with him.

  1. Review the attributes that have been measured, especially those showing the largest changes. Can you agree on why these have happened? Are you measuring the right metrics that cover the category or are you in need of updating them?
Continue Reading

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