How to align your image and identity

There’s a method to determine if a brand communicates the right identity.
To put it in a simple way:

Identity is what your brand stands for, from the inside out.
Image is what your audience perceives as your identity, from the outside in.

These two need to match as closely as possible. Many brands are currently in a transformation to become more engaged, personal and dynamic, while  keeping their own identity. That process can be challenging. Just launching a campaign on your Facebook page or Instagram account is not doing this job for you.

In my experience it makes hardly any sense to answer questions like how one should use communication tool A or B if you have no clear definition of how you would like to be perceived by your audience to begin with.

An identity applies to what you communicate in terms of text, image and/or video as to your design and behavior. Any corporate identity consists of these three pillars: communication, design (symbolism) and behavior. Or simply put: what you say, how you look and how you behave.

How would it sound to you if there is a method you can use to measure if you actually have the (outside) image that matches your (inner) identity?

Good news, you can.

There’s a method called ‚am I’. Besides the obvious meaning of ,am I’, it’s short for Augmented Measurable Identity. See this example:

Am I example for brand A

The yellow area is how this brand A is being perceived by the audience. the image. The blue area is how brand A wants to be seen, the identity.

The diagram has four quadrants. The upper left has standard values for typical high volume and sharply priced brands. IKEA is good example. The lower left values are typical for static brands like banks or insurance companies. The upper right is where most online start-ups can be found, as in being innovate and dynamic. The lower right is typical for high-end brands with a focus on quality and or personalization.

How you can benefit from this?

Where you are in the quadrants as a brand gives you the insights to find the answers on these questions:

A. What can we create or raise to close the gap on the customer values where we score lower then we intended.
B. What can we reduce or eliminate to close the gap on customer values we do not want or want to communicate less.

This is customer centric design. You design your business operations on customer values. The right way to go when you ask me.

But there is more. You can also apply this to compare yourself with competitors or industry standards in your market. And find specific customer values you can serve to outperform your competition.

The most important asset here is that you get the right discussion on it and can actually measure the effect of your actions to improve the perception of your corporate identity over time. So you know if your investments do return in terms of improvement on customer value scores.

The augmented part comes in when you start to create, raise, eliminate or reduce certain scores on values. You will need creativity to find ways to do that in a consistent way. It will bring you closer to the right solutions, content,  tools, ideas and actions to improve the perception of your audience as in clients and stakeholders.

It can also be used to get everyone on the same track within your company. A must-have if you want all the employees in your team working on the same customer centric values.

Another application is to brief your designer when you develop a new house style for your company. The choices being made by a designer on colour, typography, style elements and so on can be substantiated by the values that need to be reflected in the designs. It is my personal experience that design results are better when one uses this method. You get the right discussions and the right decisions on a higher level.

Last but not least, any value in this model can be replaced by specific customer values you want to serve. To be absolutely sure you take the right management decisions that do serve these particular customer values. A strategic decision making process.

Want to know more? Just contact me below as I’ve developed and have been using this method for many years now as a strategist for global and local brands. There is an interview technique required to make sure you get the right respons using this strategic identity tool. Feel free to drop a comment.

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