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AUSTIN WEST

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August 21, 2013

Developing Brand Identity Systems | Avoiding 8 Common Mistakes | Part Three

3. Use Constructs that Fit and Help–Ignore the others.

All too often there is a compulsion to use all potential identity-related dimensions. The result can be a brand identity that is forced, containing elements that are trivial, irrelevant, and sometimes ridiculous.

All these dimensions do not have to appear in a given brand identity. A brand identity is not a tax form that requires an entry on every line, nor is it a questionnaire in which every question must be answered to get a perfect score. Rather, each dimension should be evaluated by the following standards to see if it will be helpful.

• Does it capture an element important to the brand and its ability to provide customer value or support customer relationships?

• Does it help differentiate the brand from its competition?

• Does it resonate with the customer?

• Does it energize employees?

• Is it believable?

A dimension can qualify if it rates extremely high on only one question; it need not qualify on all five. The dimensions that do not contribute much along any of the five areas (listed above), however, should not be included. The bottom line is wether it helps and feels right as part of the brand identity.

Which dimensions to use will depend on the context. In services, high technology, and durable goods, organizational associations are usually helpful, but in consumer packaged goods they are less likely to be relevant.

For example: A self-expressive benefit is likely to be more relevant in brands that score very high on one of the five major personality dimensions (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness); personality is also likely to be more important when there is little product differentiation.

Another example: Symbols are most important when they are strong and create a visual metaphor. If a symbol is weak, symbolism may not be a driver for the brand. (Some strong brands have no defining symbols that need to be actively managed.)