Brand Identity Prism

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Analyzing the identity of a brand. Explanation of Brand Identity Prism of Jean-Noël Kapferer. ('92)


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Brand Identity Prism Kapferer

An obvious benefit of using a human being for a metaphor for a brand is that it becomes much more easy, especially for non-experts, to understand and discuss what a brand stands for. Consumers easily perceive brands as if they would have personality traits.


What is the Brand Identity Prism? Description

According to Jean-Noël Kapferer, brand personality should be just one key facet of brand identity.

Jennifer Aaker deserves credit for having revitalized the human metaphor for a brand, but she is causing conceptual confusion by merging a number of dimensions of brand identity into brand personality. Kapferer recommends to revitalize to the original terminology of brand identity as the overall brand descriptor.

Origin of the Brand Identity Prism. History

To understand Kapferer's model it is useful to read a bit of history:

Already in 1958, Martineau used the word "brand personality" to refer to the non-material dimensions that make a shop special: its character.

In the 60s and 70s there was a growing dissatisfaction with equating the product and the brand. A typical example of that was the term "Unique Selling Proposition" or USP from Rosser Reeves.

In 1982, Séguela, a VP of an adverting agency, recommended that all brands be described along three facets:

  1. Physical. What does the product do and how well does it perform?
  2. Character. Brand personality facet.
  3. Style. Operational elements for adverting and communication.

In the late 80s, Ted Bates introduced the term "Unique Selling Personality". As a consequence, in the famous 'copy strategy' - the essential single sheet which summarizes the advertising strategy as related to copy - it became widespread to see a new item to be filled by account executives: brand personality.

Analogously to the use of the term "personality" in psychology, on the research side, the brand identity frameworks always quoted brand personality as a dimension of brand identity - namely those traits of human personality that can be attributed to the brand. Among the other dimensions are:

  • Brand inner values (cultural facet)
  • Brand relationship facet (its style of behavior, of conduct)
  • Brand-reflected consumer facet
  • Brand physical facet (its material distinguishing traits)

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