In this article, we will understand the basics of what a brand image is and why it matters. The article takes you through an overview of why brand image impacts your business. We will further dig deep into how to create a brand image – with some great examples of brands who have done it successfully. We’ve shared industry-specific examples too. Let’s kick-start building your brand image!
Defined simply, brand image is what a customer thinks of your brand. It’s the perception of your brand in the minds of the consumers.
“An image is the set of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person holds regarding an object”– Philip Kotler – Marketing Guru
What Is A Brand Image?
Before we go on to how to create a brand image, we need to clearly define and understand what it is. The experience and interaction that a customer has with your brand impacts the image. It’s more than just a logo or color. It’s the overall impact of design, content and even the way brands behave!
Here’s a brand image example: in television or on Instagram you see a lot of video ads right? Have you guessed the company or product even before the ad ran for a few seconds? Yes? That’s brand image. Let us go further, you see a brand that you have never heard of. You see an Ad in a magazine, check out their website, perhaps click on their Facebook page.
Then you Google them. You are now connected with them on multiple touchpoints. And you form an opinion. Wow! This is a premium brand. You decide to go beyond. So you call their number and are greeted by a lady who is very courteous. She sends you the information that you have asked for real fast. Your perception of the brand is reinforced. You start talking to friends about the brand.
A brand image is a sum total of all core messaging based on a strategy. The messages and content are synchronized to deliver a unified, glorious image of the brand across platforms and channels. That’s brand image.
The perception of brand image is fragile.
One wrong move can crack the image, especially in the early years. Let us go back to our example of the premium brand. We loved their magazine Ad. And the website. But the Facebook page was not impressive.
The first question mark:
You Google them. And you see 3 stars in their review. Poor social proof. You see the image crumbling. Now, it is an uphill task for the brand to repair the perception of their image. Thus, it is important, you need a branding company that understands and enables you to construct the right brand image.
For the longest time, children in India would associate chocolate with just Cadbury’s. In fact, Cadbury’s became a synonym for chocolate. One doesn’t need to be a big multinational company such as Apple, Nike, or Cadbury’s.
A brand image will help you stand out among your competitors:
Here, the example of Mr. Wonderful’s story comes into play. It shows how creativity triumphs. Mr. Wonderful is a popular Spanish brand that sells positive messages. Notebooks, keychains, mugs, and umbrellas — you name it. The message that products carry gives this brand a distinct image.
They are 100% recognizable wherever you are! Yes, they have thousands of impostors and initiators out there, but their creativity is completely original. Hence, the popularity of their bran image.
Brand Identity Vs. Brand Image
Often, brand identity and brand image are used synonymously or interchangeably. While they have their share of common traits, they are different in their unique ways. Indicative of the name brand identity is the way the company is perceived. It is how it presents itself to the customers. The brand identity reflects the companies:
- Brand Values
- Brand Personality
- Ideas of the company
- Support facilities
Key Differences: Brand Identity And Brand Image
In simple terms, brand identity comprises the brand’s totality, including depicting a positive image for the consumer. The brand image represents the comprehensive impression of the product or service.
Brand identity calls for the active participation of any company. Brand image is a passive approach and happens through real experiences. All visible elements are covered in brand identity like the logo, name, design, color. The brand image includes brand association along with the logo, design, etc.
A company’s brand identity is a representation of its core values, mission & vision. It reveals the consumer’s perception of a particular brand. Brand image is a manifestation of the customer’s interaction and experiences with the brand.
In brand identity, one looks back with the thought of improving consumer experiences. On the contrary, brand image focuses on moving forward with positive customer experiences.
Why Does Brand Image Matter?
Why do we start a business? To earn profits, build a reputation in the market, and enhance the consumer experience, right? However, many business owners feel brand image comes with unnecessary fluff. They feel it adds no value to their current service or product!
And how wrong are they! Such business owners are offering-focused that the brand image is forgotten. The end result — stagnation of growth. Market sales and growth is affected. All big brands like Apple, Nike, Reliance, etc. do it…
We hear you — “I am not such a big brand” or “We are just an SME.”
But to have a strong brand image is to come up with something that your customers will remember your brand by! So, let’s take a look at why brand image matters.
Brand Image Helps Make An Impression
A first impression may not be the last — but it sure matters. In any business, the first impression of the consumer matters. How the employees are dressed, your website, business cards, etc. all come into play. Yes, it is superficial to an extent — but it adds to your brand image. If you are a retailer, then how clean your store is will add to the brand image.
So the presentation is everything. And that’s why brand image matters. In the healthcare sector, the right digital branding strategies help improve patient engagement. Let’s take the example of a business card. For someone in sales, a crisp and classy business card reflects the promise your brand delivers.
If your brand is all about being subtle & elegant, go for a matte finish with clear font. For a younger brand or a start-up, something more colorful or punchy could work. A luxury brand may go for opulent designs or a rich card material. These little things add up in making an impression!
Makes Your Brand Recognizable
Every major company that has become a brand has come a far way because of its brand image. A mac-book from apple or an iPhone is recognizable with its logo. The can of Coca-Cola is visible because of its red color and unique font. You may think it is simple – but making your brand recognizable in the market requires more effort. It’s not just about the logo or slogan. Brand image encompasses both visual elements.
A brand is associated with speed, reliability, and quality. Hence, a little effort is needed to maintain a good and consistent image. Every consumer interaction matters, especially in this highly competitive environment! The brand image helps to build client relationships. It embraces your company’s culture and values. One should nurture and build relationships with customers. Your campaign should reflect that you care about them.
Brand Image Reflects How Your Company’s Placed
Think about this — a restaurant where waiters don’t have a uniform or dress code. Everyone is wearing whatever they wish. Ugh… chaos. You don’t know who’s a customer and who’s the server right?
This differentiates a polished brand from a new one. Your brand image should reflect uniformity and consistency — how put-together are you! Professionalism should come across. If your consumers feel that you lack the same, your brand image goes for a toss.
For example, does your website have your email address? Are the links and tabs working? A simple thing like the wrong email address shows that you have a poor professional image.
Builds Credibility And Equity
If there’s a sure-shot way to build brand credibility and loyalty – it is through brand image. One can consistently work towards maintaining a stable brand image. For a food brand like Subway — it’s about healthier fast food. Then there’s Taco Bell, which shows that fast food can be vegan, vegetarian, healthy, and non-veg! Brand image delivers on these promises and reinforces what your brand stands for!
If you are marketing your services, then discussing core values and culture code helps build your brand image. It shows how you want to position yourselves in the market and adds to credibility. Because your brand image is more visible now than ever
The world has gone digital, and so has your brand image. Even hospitals and healthcare brands are now making the most of digital marketing. It is now out in the world more prominently. There are consumer reviews and forums. Most importantly, there are social media where your brand experiences will be discussed.
Whatever you do and wherever you do, it will shape your brand image. So If you thought that brand image doesn’t matter – think again!
Creates Brand Personality
Brand personality is perceived the same way you think of a person. Be it your customers, employees, or even associates — all company interactions are personal ones. It’s person-to-person at some point! Let’s take a look at some examples:
- Apple – The tech giant successfully generates revenues and brand ranking.
- Colgate – A brand name that is that has associated itself with belief and trust.
- Then there are Patagonia and The North Face. Companies that are known for the outdoor savvy and rugged customers. But there is a difference between brand personality and brand image.
Brand personality is a part of the brand image! While image adheres to the customer viewpoint — brand personality is a set of human characteristics associated with a brand.
How Does Brand Image Impact Your Business?
90% of all purchase decisions are made because of a positive brand image. Mainstream customers these days take all decisions based on brand image. They associate this image with the reputation of a brand. It’s prestige, goodwill, and quality packed into one. One can say that these are intangible qualities. However, the tricky part is…
You don’t have full control over how customers perceive your brand. It varies from person to person. Hence, when you are working on your business’s brand image, a lot of effort goes in.
Brand image is a significant contributor to the success of your business because:
- It’ simpler and quick to introduce new products/services with the same brand name
- A positive brand image attracts new customers & helps retain the older ones
- Fosters healthier business-customer relationship
- Increases trust level of existing customers
- Maximizes customer retention
How Can You Build Or Create A Brand Image?
In today’s cutthroat business world, brand image is everything in today’s cutthroat business environment. No matter what your industry, you need a rock-solid brand to stand!
If not, customers lose attention & competitors reap the advantage. There’s no one-way ticket to building a positive brand image. If you want to nurture a compelling brand image, you have to take a multidisciplinary approach.
This approach should combine a coordinated digital ecosystem constructed, social media strategy, etc. They say, “Building a brand image for a business takes more time than building a personal brand image.” Here’s what you can do:
Identify Your Audience
The first step to brand imaging is identifying your target audience. This can be a mix of external and internal groups, spread across demographical or geographical areas. One should have clarity on their targeted audience to craft an effective marketing strategy. This market strategy would reflect and communicate with customer requirements.
Research Competitor Brands
Always research competitive or similar brands in your industry. Don’t blindly imitate more prominent brands. Remember, their budgets, goals, strategy, etc. differ. You should make your brand stand out from the rest! The differentiating factor is critical in brand building. However, do review and research benchmark brands to study their business style or how they price themselves.
Set Business Goals
Once you identify your niche audience, you have to set goals. Before you begin the journey, you need to know where you are headed. Do not build a brand image without knowledge of your short-term and long-term business goals. This will just be a waste of valuable resources
Brand Image Golden Circle
This was developed by the leadership expert Simon Sinek. In simple words, the Golden Circle concept helps identify the purpose behind anything in business. This is how you can get into the core of the circle:
- What – This includes the products or services you offer
- How – What differentiates you from the competition
- Why – The very reason you are in a particular business & your passion
It’s a great way to identify your unique brand purpose.
Define The Persona Of Your Brand
Next, start building your brand persona. The persona or personality of your brand should appeal to customers. It should also articulate your critical differentiators and product benefits. This will give your product/ service a competitive edge. Remember, keep it simple and relevant. Ask yourself:
- Why do you exist?
- What differentiates you?
- What problem do you solve?
- Why should people care?
Evaluate these factors to identify your potential customers:
- Education Level
- Pain points
- Brand affinities
- Work on your brand logo
The brand logo is imperative to building your brand image. It can impress minds and shift cold leads or viewers to potential customers. With a lousy logo, your not-so-remarkable impression can result in the loss of customers.
We don’t have to ask you if you recognize the logo. The Swoosh sign and apt tagline from Nike encapsulate the social values of the brand. It also outlines their product. In short, the right logo can ensure a solid base for your brand building.
Develop A Key Message
Document your key messages. Don’t forget to align them with your audiences. This is your main takeaway for building a successful brand image. Make sure you incorporate unique aspects of your business. Customers always enjoy value-added benefits.
For this, you need to have a USP. What’s your unique selling point? Once you identify the same, broadcast it to your target segment using an impactful key message.
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.”
This key message encompasses everything that the brand stands for. And you know how it worked for them! In short, it outlines the key qualities & benefits your brand offers.
Set-Up A Brand Mission Statement
Every brand should have a mission. One should craft a clear expression of what defines the same. Your company’s mission statement defines the purpose of your brand. And this mission should reflect your logo, tagline, message, and personality.
Nike uses athletes of different ethnicities, build, etc. to inspire. It doesn’t believe in differentiation. Instead, it goes ahead to say -“If you have a body, you are an athlete. “ With a disclaimer like that, the globe is their audience! Their mission resonates in the very essence of their tagline and social media posts.
Consolidate Your Brand Image
The above steps will help you lay the foundation for an effective brand image. Now, it is time to ramp up promotional activities for the brand. Doing so will help generate growth and revenues. Here’s a list of things that can help you in the same:
- Public Relations: PR or public relations will circulates your key message. It involves promoting online blogs, trade publications, etc. to promote brand image and raise awareness.
- Content: For any company, content is the fuel that drives brand image. Ensure that you update informative content to suit target audience segments.
- Social media: This is a valuable tool to share and educate your audience. It will enable you to interact with customers and influencers in the relevant industry. It can increase website traffic and boosts brand image.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): With the right SEO techniques, your brand can rank on top pages of search engines like Google. This will help make a big impact.
What Is An Effective Brand Image Example?
Every brand wants to have an impressionable image. An image that takes their brand forward. Of course, thousands of dollars are spent on it. Combined with creative ideas, many of them succeed. Let’s take a look at a few brands that made the top cut:
An Iconic 130-Year-Old Brand! The company started way back in 1886. Over the decades, its brand image and brand identity have undergone overhauling. They’ve managed to consistently recreate a successful brand image. While some characteristics of the 134-year old brand are there, much has changed. One of the constants is the brand’s signature. Its bright red and white colors are instantly recognizable. Of course, the widely recognizable typeface is not something one misses.
Here is what they’ve done over the years
- 1971 it was the Hilltop singers performing “I’d Like to Buy a World a Coke.”
- In 1979 it was “Have a Coke and a Smile.”
- The 1980s were all about “Can’t Beat the Feeling.”
- In 1993, they came up with the “Always Coca-Cola” tagline, which included a polar bear cover
- In 1995, Coca-Cola introduced the concept — “Holidays are Coming.” Overnight, they became a festive brand associated with holidays.
What are the main takeaways from Coke?
They focused on consistency
While Coca-Cola tried the unique marketing campaign for their target market, they didn’t really jostle their consistent brand experience. The essence of the brand remained consistent, and they made a lasting imprint on the customer’s mind. Some of these are:
- Scripted font for its logo
- Tell-tale red
- Marketing links back to joy & happiness
- Coke brand image building
They evolved with time
Big changes are a part of creating brand image. Coca-Cola was successful for the most part, but they had their share of failures too. In 1985, the company released “New Coke.” It didn’t work and rather alienated fans who preferred the original version. Despite testing the new drink earlier, fans of this sudden change gave a significant backlash.
Tip: Don’t make one without careful thought and consideration.
Acknowledged the power of branding
Is your business the most important asset of your product? Remember, no item or service can sell without a powerful brand image. Coca-Cola focussed on building brand image rather than just the product. They don’t tell you how it tastes or how delicious the drink is. Instead, it has built an image around lifestyle — community, happiness, and love. They sold an idea — and experience!
Coke is built around positive ideas. However, it has modernized itself. They’ve successfully kept their fingers on the pulse of their target market. As a result, they have created brand affinity.
Tip: Always listen to your audience.
At the end of the day, you will come across thousands of brands. Some are more successful than the others. The Coke case study highlights how this brand maintained its presence in a tough competitive market. It still holds a massive consumer presence.
At the end of the day, remember that your brand is basically a unique bundle of associations within the minds of the target clientele. Create a consistent brand image because signifies what your brand stands for. It embraces your beliefs and mission & vision. Branding through digital mediums will help you reap multiple benefits.