What is Brand Identity? Learn How Brand Identity is defined.

One of the most critical areas of focus while building a business is creating a Brand Identity – that is what your company is in true sense and what it offers the customers.
As simple that word may sound in actual sense it is layered with complexities. Brand identity is an indicator of your business values, goals, mission etc.

Sounds tough !….. isn’t it ….. Well it’s not. Let’s see what Brand identity really means in simple words

What is Brand Identity?

In simple words, brand identity is how a business presents itself to and wants to be perceived by its customers. Brand identity is the intent behind the branding activities – the way the business chooses its name, designs it logs, selects its color palettes, the language and the communication it uses in its advertisements, the promotional activities it does etc.
Brand identity is a culmination of all these intangible elements which are used to form an image in the minds of the customers.

Redbull is a one such brand which has been true to its core proposition and its brand identity and has been successful in resonating it in the mind of the customers as well.
Red bull wanted to portray itself as a brand which is fun, adventurous, energetic, youthful, ambitious etc. and their intent to do so was done through the logo they created, the color palettes they use as well as through the communication they use in their ads (the famous line – REDBULL gives you wings ……)
Their brand identity is also reflected through the promotional activities that they do or indulge in. All those promotional activities are related to one or the other kind of sports which are a little off beat and not mainstream (like skateboarding, snowboarding, Go-karting, swimming etc)


To dig down deep, let’s use Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism to decode the brand identities of world’s top brand and understand
1. How did they manage to build a Brand Identity?
2. What all elements did they use
3. How customers perceive these brands because of all branding activities that they did.

Let’s understand the Brand Identity prism elements along with some Brand identity examples:

1. Brand Physique

A brand, first and foremost, should have ‘physique’ with physical specifications and qualities and is both the brand’s backbone and tangible added value. It is the physical aspects of the brand: How does it look, what does it do etc. It is how people will recognize your brand and is made of  a combination of either salient objective features (which immediately come to mind when the brand is quoted in a survey) or emerging ones.

Example: Redbull in all its communications lays special emphasis on its Slender and functional Can. The can is not just a simple can but uses distinctive and eye-catching colors; blue and white crisscross design and “Red” and “Gold” color logo standing in the middle of the can representing energy and power.

For businesses which don’t have a tangible product and are associated with providing service to its customers like Amazon, Netflix, Flipkart; their logo is the main and important brand physique that distinguishes them from the crowd.

2. Brand Personality

Every brand has or should have a personality that customers can relate to. The way brand speaks/communicates about its products or services forms a personality/charachter/ image in the minds of its customers. And it’s not just confined to the communication part of it, the associations and the promotions/events etc that brand does also plays a heavy role in forming a brand personality

Example: Redbull has a personality of fun, adventurous, crazy, ambitious and youthful brand and the way it has been able to successfully do it is through the promotional activities it does, events it sponsors, TV ads etc.

For Walmart, the personality revolves around caring, authentic, optimistic, straightforward.

3. Brand Culture: 

Brand culture is more internally involved as opposed to brand personality which is more customer oriented. Brand culture is what the brand means to its internal stakeholders. Brand culture is a top-down approach.

Example: Google has a brand culture of Fun, Innovative, caring, explorative etc and this culture is reflected in the initiatives it takes for its employees – starting from interviewing the candidate to onboarding him to his exit. The same brand culture qualities are reflected through its employees.

4. Relationship: 

Indeed, brands are often at the crux of transactions and exchanges between people. This is particularly true of brands in the service sector and also of retailers. Once the consumers build a relationship with the brand, the brand can demand consumers to do things which it believes in.

Example: Nike bears a Greek name that relates it to specific cultural values, to the Olympic Games and to the glorification of the human body. Nike suggests also a peculiar relationship, based on provocation: it encourages us to let loose (‘just do it’). Nike in India created amazing TVC celebrating women athletes featuring Deepika Padukone. Here the brand is in a position to ask its consumers to ‘Just Do It’ because it has nurtured a relationship. The ad campaign was named Da Da Ding.

5. Reflection: 

Brand reflection just like the brand relationship is customer oriented, it’s the reflection that the brand has on it customers. In simple words, it’s how customers think they will look like or be when they will use your brand or product. Let’s explore it by using the below example:

Example: Dove as a brand in its TVC’s portray a modern, confident, beautiful and sexy model (“with smooth and glowy skin”) but the model is neither in the age group or the type of clients they are targetting. In reality, the consumer group for Dove will be any other random average women that you can think of from any age group.

It’s the reflection that Dove wants to form in the minds of its customers that you are a modern, confident woman if you are using Dove products.

5. Self-image: 

Finally, a brand speaks to our self-image. If the reflection is the target’s outward mirror (they are …), self-image is the target’s own internal mirror (I feel, I am …). Through our attitude towards certain brands, we indeed develop a certain type of inner relationship with ourselves. And therefore, these brands always communicate to push the limits.


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