Welcome back avid blog readers, today is a follow on from last week’s blog – “What is a brand?” – and you can expect the enlightening to continue as we will looking at brand image and brand identity.

Ok, so you can guess what is coming next – what is brand image and what is brand identity?  These two terms commonly get mixed up and interchanged or misused, and to be honest, I don’t blame to the people who do as it can be quite a confusing thing to get your head around but hopefully I can shed a little light on the differences and help to keep you out of the misuse camp.

Right here goes…

Brand image relates to how the brand is perceived from the customer’s point of view, while brand identity is the unique visual, tone of voice, and other things that express the brand physically.  Basically you can nurture brand image over time and build it on your unique qualities e.g. excellent customer service and reliability of product, and brand identity can be added to with new campaigns, for example.  Both, however, are the bedrock in the foundations of the brand.

I used to think of brand identity as being like the identity of a person. So you have his or her name, appearance, personality, accent, ethnic group and fashion style for example. Brand image, on the other hand, comes from the external view and in this example relates to what people may think of you from the outside looking in. It is their perceptions and therefore their reality of who that person is and what they represent.  You’ve all heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”…

Where good marketing comes in to play is making sure the reality is the same as the perception. There must be a link between what the brand promises and the reality of what you get. So make sure if you look cool you are, if you look affordable don’t be expensive etc etc..

If the two are out of sync the brand will not successful in the long run as you lose credibility.

You can mould and develop these two things by a good understanding of your customers, industry, marketplace, produce, trends, so on and so forth.  Expect each to grow over time and even for the requirement of a re-brand as your business goals change and increase, a brand is malleable, but only if it is quality.

To help make sure that your brand is quality and remains quality there are a few key factors that you must keep in mind:

Live your brand

Have you ever been to a job interview and nodded vehemently when asked if you were competent in something particular while the whole time thinking “please don’t ask me to demonstrate as I hated doing that so wasn’t very good at it”?  Well this is similar, don’t say you’re passionate if you can’t be bothered, for example. Live the brand.

You’re always on show

Your staff, your website, your promotional material, your communication etc. are all part of your brand so they need to all be telling the same story and singing from the same hymn sheet.  Your staff are brand advocates so need to be trained to be your brand, your website should be a virtual shop if you have a shop – a holiday park if you have a holiday park, and give the customer exactly what they would get in store or on site.  Your communication needs to be the same as if a customer came in to see you face to face… so on and so forth.

Be consistent

This is a biggy and a good way to keep you on track is to set brand guidelines and stick to them. An example that I can relate to is during communication, you may think your brand warrants the requirement to never abbreviate or use a P.S. at the end of correspondence.  But whatever you choose you need to stick to it, if not your brand will not be strong and your message/positioning will not be be clear. You can’t be everything to everyone!

Test the water but stick to the right channel

How and where you market yourself can affect your brand. You don’t see Bentley advertising in the Daily Star, but similarly Birdseye waffles aren’t in Vogue (is any food in Vogue?) You need to know your target audience in order to market to them effectively whilst not jeopardising your brand.

Phew, that’s done.  I still get in a muddle with branding and there are still aspects to it that I haven’t even mentioned let alone touched on so if you would like to know more then just send us a comment with your query and we will be happy to reply.

Next week, as the Commonwealth Games will have finished and hopefully Scotland will have kicked the proverbial aided a little bit by the games being held here, so we will look at how your surroundings can affect your performance.

What is a Brand? – part 2
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