Trigger 2: Brand identity and brand symbolism

What is brand identity vs. brand image? (2018a) defines brand identity as “The visible elements of a brand (such as colors, design, logotype, name, symbol) that together identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers’ mind.”

They define brand image as “The impression in the consumers’ mind of a brand’s total personality (real and imaginary qualities and shortcomings). Brand image is developed over time through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme, and is authenticated through the consumers’ direct experience.” ( 2018b.)

Basically, brand identity is how you, the company, want the consumers to see you, whilst brand image is how the consumers perceive you.

Alina Wheeler (2013, 4) defines brand identity as “tangible and appeals to the senses. You can touch it, hold it, hear it, watch it move.” It fuels recognition, amplifies differentiation and makes big ideas and meaning accessible. It is also mentioned that design plays an essential role in creating a brand identity.


Compare different brand identity models.

The process for brand identity needs a combination of investigation, strategic thinking, design excellence and project management (Wheeler, A. 2013, 102-103). It also requires patience, an obsession of getting it right and an ability to synthesize vast amounts of information.

Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 11.11.40

(Srivastava, A. 2018a.)

I will shortly recap what the Brand Identity Prism’s different parts mean.

Physique: physical specifications and qualities. What is it concretely? What does it do? What does it look like? E.g. Coca-Cola’s iconic glass bottle, which is featured even on the design of the Coca-Cola cans. Colours are also included, both packaging and colour of the product itself.

Personality: the way a brand speaks of it’s products or services  – how would a brand be if it were human? E.g. Red Bull, that sponsors a lot of different extreme sports and has thus built a brand of being a thrill-seeking person, if it were a person.

Culture: Helps to differentiate brands. Brands with a strong culture can end up being a ‘cult’ even. E.g. Apple’s ‘iSheep’ fans who blindly buy every product the company launches. (Glance, D. 2014).

Self-image: The target’s inward mirror (I am, I feel).

Reflection: Abrand is a reflection of the typical customer. E.g. When asked how a consumer perceives a car brand, they are quick to answer that it’s for “old people, rich people, young people” etc. Mercedes-Benz = old people. The target’s outward mirror (they are).

Relationship: the relationship between a brand and consumers. When the relationship is built ,the brand can demand consumers to do things that the company believes in. E.g. Nike “Just Do It” -> encourages people to let loose and not worry so much about sports. (Srivastava, A. 2018a).


Aaker Model of Brand Equity

This model includes a lot more than just brand identity, however it talks about brand identity being very important for building brand equity. The Aaker Model has 12 dimensions in the brand identity that are organized in 4 perspectives:

  1. Brand-as-product
    1. Product scope
    2. Product attributes
    3. Quality/value
    4. Uses
    5. Users
    6. Country of origin
  2. Brand-as-organization
    1. Organizational attributes
    2. Local vs. Global
  3. Brand-as-person
    1. Brand personality
    2. Brand-customer relationships
  4. Brand-as-symbol
    1. Visual imagery/metaphors
    2. Brand heritage


Aaker also mentions there being a core and an extended identity. With core identity the meaning is the central, timeless essence of the brand. This part is most likely to stay as is while internationalizing or expanding the product/service line. The extended identity refers to various brand identity elements that are organized into cohesive and meaningful groups. (Srivastava, A. 2018b).

Comparison, Kapferer vs. Aaker

Kapferer Aaker
Physical qualities x x
Personality x x
Culture x
Reflection of self and org. x
Relationship x x
Organizational attributes x
Visual elements x x
Product x

When comparing these two models with eachother, there are a lot of similarities. They both think physical qualities and visual elements are a part of brand identity. A brand also needs to have a personality and a relationship with consumers. The difference is really in the fact that Kapferer talks about the culture as well as reflection and self-image, whilst Aaker does not. However, Aaker refers to the brand-as-organization and brand-as-product parts, which are a bit more in-depth than what Kapferer talks about.


How is the visual identity based on the brand identity?

The visual identity of a brand strives to communicate the brand identity to consumers. For example, colour. We associate a certain colour with certain brands. E.g. The Tiffany’s blue/green/turquoise kind of colour, you see the box and you immediately know it is from Tiffany’s. (Wheeler, A. 2013, 150)


(Tiffany & Co 2018).


This specific colour is also found on the Tiffany’s website, so their brand image, and identity, is strongly associated with this colour.

A choice of font can also effect the perception of your brand.

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 11.53.19

(Thomas, J. 2018).

Screen Shot 2018-08-31 at 13.50.47

Which accountant would you trust more?

Other elements that can be considered in building a brand identity is sound and animations. This is however not something every brand needs to consider. (Wheeler, A. 2013, 156-159)

Touchpoints such as the website, business cards, uniforms, packaging and advertising are also a big part of building a visual identity as a brand.


Analyze the brand identity of a chosen company with a suitable model.

I will be analyzing the brand identity of Red Bull using the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism.


When I think of Red Bull I think of just that – the Red Bull logo that they have on every can. It is also easy to recognize the colours of the original Red Bull can – blue and silver. The colour of Red Bull’s drink is not that unique anymore, since there are so many similar drinks in the market, but I would imagine that in the mid-80’s when Red Bull was launched it was very unique and recognizable – the yellow-tinted liquid.


( 2015.)


As spoken before, the personality of Red Bull as a brand is very daring, thrill-seeking and youthful. I see Red Bull as being a daredevil if it was a human. This is mostly communicated through the photos they have on their website, the events they sponsor, and the advertisements they have. Red Bull even has their own Formula 1 team, they sponsor the X Games, they organize different competitions such as Cliff Diving, Air Races (Red Bull Flugtag), they sponsor musicians and festivals, golfers, windsurfers, alpine skiers, and the list just goes on and on. One of the most notable events was the Red Bull Stratos -event, whenthe Austrian Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of the stratosphere back to Earth, and travelled faster than the speed of sound. He jumped on 12th October 2012 from a height of 39km. Basically, these are the things the Red Bull human does. (Red Bull 2018a).


I think the culture of Red Bull is strongly linked to the personality. I get the feel of risk-taking, giving people wings and yet a professional brand.

On their “jobs” page they mention that “We don’t have videos of smiling employees enjoying free lunches and bean bags in colorfully painted offices. Instead, please judge us by the quality and professionalism of what we produce across our many products and projects.” (Red Bull 2018b.)


Here, again, I feel like the personality is the main driver for this. They feel like they are a youthful, fun-loving company, and their entire brand identity screams that.


Again, people perceive Red Bull as an extreme-sports type of brand, that seeks thrills and wants to do crazy things.


Red Bull has a strong relationship with consumers that are this thrill-seeking type. Or people who want to be like that, having wings and doing things that they may have thought they never will do.


Analyze (or design) the visual identity of a chosen company.

I have decided to analyse the visual identity of Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company.

From the moment you open their website, you get a very down-to-earth feel of the company, and that they love nature. This is achieved by the green resembling grass, pictures of cows, the font choice and the way they higlight content on their website. It feels like you are reading about a farm, which supports the image of them having locally supportive, natural and fair-trade ingredients. The same kind of aesthetic is also found on their packaging and their ice cream shops. ( 2018a.)


(, 2018b.)

Their social media accounts are also very much inline with the same visuals. The green grass, blue sky and cow pictures are featured on every single package of their ice cream. Their Instagram account is also filled with cosy, warm photos that look like they have been taken in someone’s home (Instagram 2018).

The fonts of different packaging varies, however they all have the overall feel of a local ice cream parlor somewhere in a small town, or a small farm boutique in the middle of the countryside (Instagram 2018).


Resources 2018a. Home page. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018. 2018b. Jäätelömyymälät. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018. 2018a. Brand Identity. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018. 2018b. Brand Image. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Glance, D. The Washington Post. 2014. The Psychology Behind Apple’s Obsessive iSheep Fans. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Instagram 2018. Ben & Jerry’s Suomi. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Red Bull 2018a. Merkkipaaluja 1987. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Red Bull 2018b. Jobs. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Srivastava, A. 2018a. Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism – Concept & Examples. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Srivastava, A. 2018b. Aaker Model – Defining Brand Identity (Philip Kotler Summary). URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Tiffany & Co 2018. The Tiffany Gift Card. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Thomas, J. 2018. 20 actionable tips to build a winning visual brand identity. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018. 2015. Red Bull Logo Wallpapers. URL: Accessed 31 August 2018.

Wheeler, A. 2013. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team. 4th edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.


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