Chances are, if someone mentions Aldi or Lidl, you think of super-affordable, good quality food.

Why’s that? Because Aldi and Lidl have done a great job defining their brand. So much so, that they’ve held the top 2 slots in the YouGov BrandIndex for two consecutive years. Great brands like Aldi and Lidl are easy to identify. Their missions are crystal clear; and they seem to find it easy to cultivate an enviable level of customer loyalty at the blink of an eye.


But that’s not the case. Both firms have worked incredibly hard to shift the emphasis of their brand identity. By focusing on quality, not simply budget they have made the leap from side-line challengers to key players, leaving larger more established supermarket brands reeling.

“Your business’s brand is one of its most valuable assets.  Craft it carefully; and make sure it authentically represents your business” – Kate Southon, Head of Design, Viewpoint Marketing.

But exactly what is your brand identity?

We think the most straight-forward explanation comes from internationally recognised branding expert, Jean-Noel Kapferer. He created a model called the “Brand Identity Prism.” Through this model we can identified six aspects of brand identity: culture, personality, physique, reflection, relationship and self-image.

Culture; the values you hold dear
The intrinsic link between your business, the people who work within it and the approach they take.  Lego’s culture is one of creativity and imagination, Innocent’s is one of sustainability and responsibility and Coca-Cola’s culture is based around sharing and being social.

Personality; the character of the brand
How your business communicates with the world around it. This includes tone of voice, writing style, the public relations approach you take, whether you are quirky, straight-laced, approachable or exclusive.

Physique; the physical aspect of the brand
Your businesses logo and colour scheme, packaging, website, shape and how physical products are presented. Think Apple or Coca Cola. They have the physical nailed.

Reflection; the brand’s most A Typical customer
It’s perfectly acceptable for a business to have numerous target customer groups. But, one group should always be perfect fit.

Relationship; the relationship between the brand’s customers
Another way to think of this would be, how are the relationships of your customers positively affected by your brand? One recent example would be NatWest’s ‘I Got Bills I Gotta Pay’ TV advertising for its Current Account, showing the relationship between a father and his children.  NatWest symbolises a responsible and friendly relationship among families.

Self-image; holding up a mirror for your customer
How does your target customer want the world around to view him or her? What kind of person do they want to be, what do they want to shout about, or keep quiet about?  You can draw upon this desired self-image to help direct your brand strategy. Your culture and values should match those of your target customer when you do the ‘mirror test’.

“We know from experience that many small and medium businesses consider branding a bit fluffy.  That’s why we help to put some structure around it so that it’s possible to begin defining a concrete brand strategy, linked directly back to business aims and objectives”, says Kate Southon, Head of Design, Viewpoint Marketing.

Now you have a clearer idea of what brand identity is, the next step is to look at how it applies to your business.


First – carry out some analysis. Take a long hard look at your business, what is its purpose, where does it sit within the market, what are its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats? (SWOT – tried, tested and still the best). Talk to all stakeholders involved, from board members, to administrative assistants, happy customers, and not so happy ones, suppliers and affiliates.
Then, and only then can you begin to craft your brand identity.

At VMS we use a clearly defined process that is designed to capture what your brand stands for: its goals, culture, personality, physique, and the emotions you want people to feel when engaging with your business. It is from here that we craft a client’s brand identity.

Does it hit the spot?
There’s only one way to know whether you’ve got your brand identity right, and that’s to share it with the world. From outbound marketing including a new website, content, paid media and a multitude of other methods, to inbound marketing including blogging and social media.

But remember –
• Clearly define the purpose of each particular piece of marketing communication, and pass each through your newly created brand filter.
• Keep revisiting your brand identity.  It’s a constantly evolving process and must be fresh and relevant.


Overall, brand identity is about appealing to your customer’s hearts, not just their heads. It’s about becoming part of their story and positively affecting their lives. About them choosing to always use your business, not because your products are cheaper, or because it’s too hard to change, but because they know their lives will be better if they do.

Now that’s something all businesses want. Whether they understand the science of branding or not.

Need help defining your brand identity?  Talk to us today



Did you know we run Brand Discovery Workshops?


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