As we’ve said before, it is crucial to understand how to analyze brand identity before stretching it and trying to reach a different audience. A brand identity is more than a company’s logo slapped onto some items. Marty Neumeier stated that brand identity is the “outward expression of a brand, including its trademark, name, communications, and visual appearance.”
Creating powerful brand-building strategies involves intensive research, critical thinking, and creativity to portray what your brand is all about. After understanding your brand’s strategy, you can then execute a marketing campaign that focuses on your target audience, triggers the right emotions, and leaves a good lasting impression on consumers. Executing the campaign also necessitates an effective digital marketing campaign.
But before you can stretch your brand, you must understand everything about your brand’s identity. Here are 3 categories, offered up with real-world evidence that can help you understand how to analyze brand identity and how they have helped and hurt two well known global brands.
Understanding Brand Identity
Apple is one of the most beloved brands in the world as they have successfully created the impression that they have sleek, innovative, and high-quality products that also serve as excellent status symbols. Apple’s iPhones are more expensive than most smartphones available in the current market and their products come with features that top other companies, including a virtually uncrackable and unhackable operating system and security features that render an iPhone useless to thieves.
Apple is known as a luxury brand that also became China’s most coveted brand. The company has outranked not only its competitors in the smartphone market, but also other luxury retailers such as Hermes, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. This success is thanks largely to Apple’s consistency in their products and services while also securing the devices to protect their customers.
One brand that once failed to build positive brand identity is Abercrombie & Fitch that sexualized its marketing and thought that there was nothing wrong with it. The brand is a teen apparel retailer that became known for its garish logos, poor quality clothes, and oversexed advertising. Its CEO also stated that they “go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong, and they can’t belong.” In the 2010s, A&F had to rebrand and restructure themselves to accommodate a different target demographic. Eventually, Business Insider named A&F as the biggest named brand to make a comeback in 2018.
Apple’s brand identity is all about luxury and they succeeded in becoming successful in their industry, while Abercrombie & Fitch once focused on sexualizing their products until they rebranded themselves and targeted more mature audiences. For your brand to have a profitable brand identity, you must have a target audience in mind and focus on a particular and profitable niche to keep yourself from overextending your reach.
Understanding Brand Persona
Your brand’s persona is reflective of who your current customers, employees, and business partners are. You may not immediately have a persona once you start a business, since it can build up throughout the years through continuous brainstorming with your staff and researching the market.
When you start off with a predominantly young staff composed of Millennials and Generation Z workers, your brand’s persona will likely be reflective of their values and ideals. As long as you welcome their inputs, your brand will likely adopt a persona that is more accommodating to a young demographic, especially the Gen Z demographic which is the most desirable demographic today because of their billions worth of buying power.
Abercrombie & Fitch’s rebranding and changing their persona involved replacing their CEO to introduce a new persona for the company. Fran Horowitz, the new CEO of A&F, stated that “We are not the Abercrombie & Fitch that you once knew,” during the company’s investor day in 2018. Because A&F rebranded itself to target a new market; the trendy Gen Z and Millennials aged 18-24 who are beginning their first adventures after college.
Apple knew their competition and they worked hard to compete and gain an edge over them throughout the years. Remember that they are a luxury brand focusing on technology. Apple’s main competitors were computer and smartphone manufacturers.
Apple focused on providing luxury devices for their target audience to the point that they saw the largest sales share increase in the smartphone industry during a pandemic, adding about 20 million new iPad users per year, adding about 10 million new Mac users per year, and their other products’ sales rising. Apple has effectively pulled itself away from the competition.
They did not bother to compete in the computer components market since it is not their focus and they did not target the PC building market that’s composed of PC builders and gamers. However, Apple might now be targeting the gaming arena with a possible dedicated $5,000 gaming PC that may be or may not be based on its existing Mac Pro. Even a big organization with multiple tech YouTube channels that worked with multinational companies like Intel and IBM, Linus Media Group, acknowledged that Apple’s PC might be good. Even with this possible entry into the gaming market, their brand stretch still limits its target market as they are not marketing to PC builders who wish to build their own custom setups. So far, tech YouTubers have been showing how to create “Mac Pro Killers” for their PC builder target audience, which is not the same audience that Apple is focusing on.
Apple has maintained their brand identity and narrowed down their competition to keep themselves from overextending while retaining its level of service with their other products. It maintains itself as a luxury brand and will likely attract the same customers it already had. Had they not understood their competition and how they compared, they might have increased their competitors without any guarantees of winning against the top brands in the unfamiliar arena.
Once you know how to analyze brand identity and understand what your current brand identity is, you will need to develop a brand strategy to ensure that your identity will work for you and improve your customers’ perception. You can hire a branding agency like Public Advertising Agency to have a neutral perspective on your brand’s strengths and weaknesses and help you develop a positive brand. Social media marketing is also an effective tool to reach more people with your brand, especially the Gen Z demographic, as more people are engaged in social media platforms than ever.