Why is setting up and running a business one of the most difficult tasks?
While a company never interacts with its customers directly, it is these customers who need to be served in the best possible manner. A single poor experience of a product or service can cause a loss of not only one but many customers.
A negative review can reach many people when an unsatisfied customer shares their experience with those around them. Most importantly, the highly connected digital world can carry that negative review to millions in seconds. This doesn’t mean that the company has no say about themselves.
When a company manages to communicate its idea and beliefs with a different type of interaction, that is what we can call their ‘brand’. To understand this interaction, one has to understand what we call ‘brand identity’ and ‘brand image’.
What is the brand identity?
It refers to the visible elements of a brand. These elements include its name, design, logo, colour, etc. A company’s efforts to create a good brand identity can be understood as their efforts to identify and distinguish their own brand from others in the customer’s minds. In simpler words, brand identity is how an organization seeks to identify itself and wants to be perceived in the larger market. These branding and marketing strategies communicate an organization’s identity to the consumers. In short, a brand is unique due to its identity.
Brand identity can also be summed as mental and functional associations with the brand. However, it’s important to understand that these associations are not mere reasons to buy.
But they actually provide a certain familiarity while differentiating themselves (from their competitors) in order to avoid the chances of being replicable. For instance, these associations can be trademark colours like blue for Pepsi, or a tagline like Apple’s – “Think different”.
In this manner, brand identity becomes a total proposal or promise that an organisation offers to consumers. It is an organisation’s personality and mission. Additionally, it serves as a feature linked with a particular company, product, service or individual. Then it becomes a medium of expressing and presenting a brand to the world.
What is the brand image?
Brand image is a distinct term in the sense that it refers to the current view of the customers about a particular brand. In contrast to brand identity, these are a distinctive bundle of associations within the minds of the customers. It denotes what the brand currently stands for, like its set of beliefs.
Furthermore, it informs how the brand is positioned in the market. In short, it is an organisation’s character that conveys emotional value. While it is also important that it highlights the organisation’s mission and vision.
Consumers develop various associations with the brand. It is the culmination of these associations that form an overall impression called ‘brand image’.
The concept behind brand image is that a consumer is not only investing in a product or service but also the image associated with the same. Hence, the brand image should be positive and unique. Branding and marketing efforts of a company significantly influence the resulting brand image.
Exploring the benefits
The various associations in a consumer’s mind for the brand image are attributes and benefits. The former is the functional and mental connections that a customer has with the brand. They can be anything particular or specific. In this way, brand attributes are the overall assessment of a brand.
On the other hand, benefits are the rationale behind the purchasing decision. These benefits can be grouped into three: Functional, emotional and rational.
Functional benefits answer what does the organisation do better than others. While emotional benefits serve the question of how does the organisation’s product or service make a customer feel better than others. The rational benefits answer why does the customer believe in that brand more than others.
Differentiating between brand image and brand identity
The two concepts are a significant part of a brand. However, these are actually different but interconnected concepts.
Brand identity represents the desire of the brand. This is because it is the way that a company wants consumers to perceive itself. On the other hand, the brand image represents the views of others about the brand. It is the way consumers perceive the company. Brand identity is active in nature as it is a company’s hand to establish it, while the brand image is passive because it can’t be controlled. In conclusion, both the terms are two sides of the same coin. However, both are essential to define the success of a brand in the market.
Improving your brand identity
An organisation with a unique identity has better brand awareness than its competitors. This creates a motivated team of employees who feel proud of working in a valued organisation.
On the other end, it leads to brand loyalty, brand preference and high credibility. As a result, a company is able to fix good prices and gain good financial returns. It establishes an instant bond between the organisation and its consumers. Maintaining and building this connection serves as a great medium for the company to foster growth.
For example, Apple Inc. always tops surveys of the most effective and beloved brands. This is because the company has worked hard in creating its impression as an innovative and premium brand. It is these efforts that have closely aligned Apple’s brand identity and brand image.
Hence, Apple with its loyal and expanding customer base is consistently one of the most profitable brands in the world.
Digital solutions in the digital world
In the wake of coronavirus, consumer behaviour has significantly changed. Consumers get influenced to make their purchasing choice with the digital presence of the brand. Every organisation is a participant in the digital race today. This again creates a tension to form a unique identity. What one needs in priority is engaging and relevant content. Creating empathy through purpose-driven marketing can also attract an audience. So it is high time to take your brand to new heights with digital marketing in 2021.
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