Trigger 3: Brand Identity

The meaning of brand identity

A brand identity is how the business wants to be perceived by consumers. The components of the brand (name, logo, tone, tagline, typeface) are created by the business to reflect the value the company is trying to bring to the market and to appeal to its customers. Brand image means how consumers actually perceive the brand. (Investopedia)

  • Aaker’s model:

As per Aaker, brand identity as consisting of 12 dimensions organized around 4 perspectives:

  1. Brand-as-product (product scope, product attributes, quality/value, uses, users, country of origin)
  2. Brand-as-organization (organizational attributes, local versus global)
  3. Brand-as-person (brand personality, brand-customer relationships)
  4. Brand-as-symbol (visual imagery/metaphors and brand heritage).

Aaker also conceptualizes brand identity as including a core and an extended identity.

The core identity—the central, timeless essence of the brand—is most likely to remain constant as the brand travels to new markets and products.

The extended identity includes various brand identity elements, organized into cohesive and meaningful groups.

The importance of brand identity

Any company can instantly gain a level of differentiation, credibility, and professionalism by developing their brand identity. In fact, the human brain can process images about 60,000 times faster than it processes words. That means by having an excellent brand identity, you can sell your company to the consumer not only faster but more efficiently, than any salesman or tri-fold brochure could ever attempt. For your brand identity to be successful, however, it has to stand out in a positive and dynamic way, much like making a good first impression. Average user spends a length of about 10 seconds on a website before deciding if they’re interested in sticking around or not. These initial 10 seconds are made entirely of visual first impressions, and will have an enormous impact on hoe the customer feels about your business and remembers your company in the future.

How to design brand identity

A brand identity is much more than just designing a decent logo and coming up with a color scheme. The team who handles the brand identity must be well versed in crafting not just one, but all aspects of the company’s brand identity.

From initial sketches and wireframes to finalized websites, print materials, and brand collateral — the design agency should cover it all. Jumping back and forth between agencies is not only tedious but will ultimately result in an inconsistent image, confusing your customers and losing their trust.

A successful brand identity transcends the simple representation of the business, transforming the company image from pen and ink into powerful thoughts, emotions, and personal associations. A successful brand identity breathes life into your company, luring customers to discover exactly what they’ve been missing and inviting them to become a part of something both beautiful and valid. In our visual culture, a successful brand identity is increasingly vital to the success of your business.

The key aspects of visual brand identity

The first step to building a successful visual brand identity is to define the audience. The second step is to understand why the audience would buy the product. The third is to visualize your personality. Then to find the emotion, moving the customers in some way, for example P90X home fitness program shows pictures of the 90 day program transformations. The next one would be to tell a story and tell it over and over again. Keeping the visual identity simple is important. It does not have to be complicated, there is a risk of confusing the audience, seeming unexciting. Visual brand identity should be kept consistent (same filter, the same size, the same font type across the platforms). The visual identity should also be easy to understand and it should make sense with your identity. (Jacqueline Thomas. Design school Canva)

How does visual brand identity shape consumer response?

Case Campbell’s:


As part of a larger study, 15 individual in-depth interviews of about one hour were conducted with art directors in advertising agencies and design firms in New York City.  Consumers were presented with a white poster board with the Campbell’s color logo printed in the center of the board and asked to think about all of the visual associations they had with that logo. They proceeded to cut out pictures that matched their associations from a large supply of magazines and glue them on the poster board to make a collage, while drawing on the board any associations that they were unable to find in the magazines.

After participants explained their collages to the researcher, they were presented with the Campbell’s ad (picture) and asked for their impressions, evaluations, and ideas about it.

The responses of both art directors and consumers were analyzed using the grounded theory method (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), with particular attention to visual thematic analysis (Gleeson, 2011).

The problem was that Campbell’s chose a visual rhetorical figure as the main image in the ad, which was a bit too far from Campbell’s core visual themes of family, home, and warmth, which consumers also identified as their visual themes.

The professionals saw violations of Campbell’s historical visual identity, and responded negatively as a result; ordinary consumers saw enough familiar and expected specific elements to accept the ad’s visual execution as compatible with Campbell’s established brand identity. (Phillips, McGuarrie and Griffin)

  • Super Bowl commercials:

A great example about the relationship between branding and customer perception. Each year, companies invest millions of dollars into brief 30 and 60 second spots during the broadcast coverage of the Super Bowl. They aren’t spending millions of dollars in hopes that they’ll see an immediate growth in product sales. Product sales may increase in the days after a Super Bowl commercial, but that’s not the return marketers are looking for. What they’re really hoping for is lasting relevance.

“The bottom line is that companies would not spend millions of dollars for a 30 second spot if the spot didn’t have any lasting relevance on the brand,” writes Peggy Carlaw, founder of Impact Learning Systems. Companies are investing in funny, clever, sentimental, risqué ads with the ultimate goal of driving an emotional response and enhancing the customer perception around their brand. (Larry Alton)


 Why is visual identity important for a business?

Whether you’re building a new brand or simply refreshing an old one, your brand’s visual identity is the most important factor. Brands with a consistent visual identity resonate with their customers more effectively and get the added benefit of having to spend significantly less money in the long run on advertising and marketing materials. Brands with more scattered visual identities, on the other hand, have to spend more and more to get their brand in front of customers as it changes so frequently. (Miles Herndon)

 What word comes to mind when you hear a brand name?

  • A brand logo, slogan, products

What are method to measuring the brand perception?

– Google alerts – they’ll give you the information when and where certain key words have been mentioned (company’s name, products etc)

– Reading online reviews – over 84% of consumers say that they somewhat or completely trust peer recommendations. Google can also notify you of these reviews

Customer Surveys – CSAT (customer satisfaction survey), Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey is sent at specific stages of the customer lifecycle, a good way to identify brand advocates or brand detractors. Product survey – measures product satisfaction and stickiness. (Jana Barrett, Business 2 Community)

What could be good examples of successful branding? 

A successful brand considers all the elements such as brand position, brand promise, brand personality, brand story and brand associations.

What are bad examples of branding?


Arpit Srivastava 2015. Aaker Model – Defining brand identity (Philip Kotler Summary). Marketing Lessons. URL:

Jacqueline Thomas. 2015. Design School Canva. URL:

Miles Herndon Blog. URL:

Jana Barrett. Business to Community. Why Brand Perception Matters – and How Companies Can Measure It. URL:

Phillips, McGuarrie and Griffin. How Visual Brand Identity Shapes Consumer Perception. Researchgate. URL:

Larry Alton. A look at the relationship between brand image and customer perception. My Customer. URL:

Seema Gurnani, 2016. The five elements of successful branding. Your Story. URL:


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