Identity and brand image: two different but compatible terms

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When you create your brand, you need to think about several things, including its purpose and values. In other words, you need to define its identity, what you would like it to be and how you want to impact its image.

What are the differences between identity and brand image?

These two notions can be confused. It’s therefore important to understand them.

Identity (brand identity) concerns the strategic aspect. These are the axes that you’re going to define. It depends on you, just as each person has the power to choose the way they present themselves to others and behave, you influence it. It also impacts the brand image, but not always in the way you would like it to be.

Branding (brand image) is how consumers perceive you. You can’t directly impact your image. So the way you behave is going to influence it. However, it’s possible that the opinions that others will hold of your brand won’t go in the direction that you have pre-defined.

You can, for example, choose a ‘funny’ communication so that you’re seen as a nice organization, and because of this, have the image of an organization that lacks seriousness and professionalism. You should therefore test this with your customers or target groups.

Fortunately, there are tools to help you define yourself in order to improve your image. In this case, you can use the identity prism.

The brand identity prism

The identity prism is a tool that will allow you to define the essential criteria and make the link between the desired image and the perceived image. There are 6 of them:

– Physical: this point concerns the tangible and visual aspects of your product such as the type of product, packaging, appearance, …

– Personality: here we will define the personality of your product as we could do with people. Moreover, there is an ‘OCEAN’ test that allows you to see the personality traits of people. It’s also valid for companies.

– Relationship: this concerns the nature of the exchanges you want to have with your customers, on what will they be based?

– Culture: in what culture and values is the organization based?

– Reflection: the ideal target and how you want to be perceived from the outside.

– Mentalisation : the dream that the consumer would like to achieve by becoming a consumer of this brand, what effects/emotions you want them to feel (such as a feeling of well-being, freedom).

Why is it so important to have a good brand image?

As we have just seen, it’s important to have consistency between the image you want to have and the perception that customers hold of it (this term is also known as ‘branding’).

Indeed, good branding will impact the volume of your sales and the price of your offer.

Improve your brand image

To improve your brand image, you can focus on the emotional (association between emotions and the brand) or on the more technical aspects (price, differentiation, raw material used, …) You can also focus on the relational and after-sales service.

It’s essential to take users opinions into account, for example, by using the Net Promoter Score (which allows you to judge the number of people likely to recommend your brand) or by asking them for feedback.

Why is this essential?

Because it’s related to word of mouth…


Word of Mouth is the channel that has the greatest impact on the image and sales. Indeed, people prefer to ask for advice from their relatives, opinions on the web (e-reputation) or certain influencers whom they consider more trustworthy and less promotional than others.

However, WTM can be both positive and negative.

The elements that lead consumers to speak positively about a brand are altruism (advocacy), involvement in the product, self-esteem and support for the company.

The elements that lead consumers to speak negatively about a brand are altruism (prevention), anxiety reduction, revenge and seeking advice.

Source: D. S. Sundaram, Kaushik Mitra and Cynthia Webster (1998). ‘Word-Of-Mouth’ Communications: a Motivational Analysis.

Importance of communication in this strategy

Don’t hesitate to use communication to improve your image. For this, just ‘play’ on the type of message you share, choose the channel and the duration of the broadcast. Don’t forget: you need a value consistent message on all the media used.

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