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Brand Identity Prism

By Craig Roth on May 21, 2013 in Decision, Knowledge, Marketing


An obvious benefit of using a human being for a metaphor for a brand is that it becomes much more easy, especially
for non-experts, to understand and discuss what a brand stands for. Consumers easily perceive brands as if they
would have personality traits.

What is the Brand Identity Prism?

According to Jean-Noel Kapferer, brand personality should be just one key facet of brand identity.
Jennifer Aaker deserves credit for having revitalized the human metaphor for a brand, but she is causing conceptual
confusion by merging a number of dimensions of brand identity into brand personality. Kapferer recommends to
revitalize to the original terminology of brand identity as the overall brand descriptor.

The Brand Identify Prism model has 6 dimensions on which a brand is to be evaluated.


Physical Facet talks about what the product is, what does it do, how does it add value to customers, how
does it fill up the gap in the market.

Brand personality is measured using those traits/features of consumer personality that are directly related
to brands. Proper care should be taken not to confuse it with consumers reflection. Brand personality is
closely linked with self image and image of the consumer. Questions to be asked include:

1) What are the features of consumer personality?

2) What are the features of brand if it was a person? This depends on the functional aspect of the product and the
gap it would fill.

Brand Culture: As the name signifies, it talks about the culture of the brand. The values and the principles
will follow from the culture and it is these values which will bind the customers. Remember HSBCs The
Worlds local bank. Questions include:

1) Is the brands culture global?

2) What are the values for which the brand stands for?
3) How would customers take the values of such a brand?

Brand Relationships: No prizes for guessing what would this be about! Yes, after all every brand has to
maintain healthy relationships with customers. All marketing collaterals are intended to do just that.
Therefore to gauge the identity, this had to feature.

1) How would Sales describe the relationship attributes for their customer management process?
2) How would Customer support describe their approach to increasing customer satisfaction?
3) How does the brand want to be seen by customers in marketing communication?

Customer Reflection: Every product is designed to satisfy some need of the intended customer base. A
consumer has to be reflected in a way, which would show how he or she could image himself consuming a
particular good. For example, in India anyone consuming Pepsi Cola would imagine himself to be young and
Thums up (another cola drink from Coke stable) to be adventurous. For this aspect, questions are to be put
to customer experience team about What would the users imagine while using the product?


Customer Self Image: Consumers get attracted to those brands in which they see their own traits, for example, a
man who is muscular and strong would smoke Marlboro. This goes hand in hand with brand personality.
Physical Facet, Brand Relationship and Customer reflection are externalization factors whereas the rest represents

Origin of the Brand Identity Prism

To understand Kapferers model it is useful to read a bit of history:
Already in 1958, Martineau used the word brand personality to refer to the non-material dimensions that make a
shop special: its character.
In the 60s and 70s there was a growing dissatisfaction with equating the product and the brand. A typical example of
that was the term Unique Selling Proposition or USP from Rosser Reeves.
In 1982, Saguela, a VP of an adverting agency, recommended that all brands be described along three facets:

Physical. What does the product do and how well does it perform?


Character. Brand personality facet.


Style. Operational elements for adverting and communication.

In the late 80s, Ted Bates introduced the term Unique Selling Personality. As a consequence, in the famous copy
strategy the essential single sheet which summarizes the advertising strategy as related to copy it became
widespread to see a new item to be filled by account executives: brand personality.
Analogously to the use of the term personality in psychology, on the research side, the brand identity frameworks
always quoted brand personality as a dimension of brand identity namely those traits of human personality that can
be attributed to the brand. Among the other dimensions are:

Brand inner values (cultural facet)

Brand relationship facet (its style of behavior, of conduct)

Brand-reflected consumer facet

Brand physical facet (its material distinguishing traits)

Lacoste, well-known for their polo shirts has a very brief, but quite interesting, story
behind their widely known brand identity, that is made of a crocodile.
The company name derived from the surname of its founder, Rene Lacoste, a world
renowned tennis player then.
Rene Lacoste was nicknamed the crocodile by the press after he made a bet with
the captain of the French Davis Cup team. Apparently, Rene was promised a
crocodile skin suitcase, something that was very important to the team, should he
win the match.
Though he lost the match, the public stuck with the nickname crocodile and Rene
then decided to have a crocodile embroidered on his blazer, which he wore to the
Fast forward to the time Rene had to get an identity for his business.
The crocodile was made part of Lacostes brand identity.
Though, its possible not to think of Lacoste when you see or hear of a crocodile.
The crocodile inevitably comes to mind whenever you think of Lacoste.
So technically there is no meaning (but a story) behind the Lacoste logo, but it
stands for something in the minds of the consumers. Some of you might argue that
the story and meaning are one nonetheless, both are not really about the brand
itself but its founder.
At first the most prevalent thing that Lacoste brought to mind was good quality
polo shirts but that was until they decided to add more products to their brands
For that reason, to some people Lacoste stands for fashionable footwear,
uniquely scented fragrances, stylish handbags, elegant watches and so forth
but thats another story.
The most important thing to take from this is that the brand gives meaning to the
logo, and not the other way around.

I just found out about this and I thought this would be interesting to those that, like
me, didnt know the history behind Lacostes identity. Plus, this sort of support the
points I made in the writing prior to this one.
And of course crocodile is likely to open an argument of its own as others would
say that It is not a crocodile but an alligator.

According to Kapferer brands are defined as a name which has the power to influence the consumer.
Brands have certain important elements attached to them such as brand name, brand logo and brand
meaning which create an identity for the brand. In order to be important and be recognised in the market,
the brand needs to be perceived as being different from what already exists in the market. Creation of that
unique place in the customers mind is known as branding strategy (Stein, 2012). In order to study the
branding strategy, the brand has to be evaluated according to some branding tools.
Management of a brand does not end at its logo or name. Brands comprise of entire concepts which have
to work in harmony with each other to convey a single message to the brand user. These concepts can be
thought of as three points of a triangle where in each concept is related to the other two. The
representation of these concepts in this form is known as Brand Structure (Kapferer, 2008). Figure 1.1
represents the different parts of the structure.
The brand name Lacoste is derived after the 6 year tennis champion Rene Lacoste who is also the
founder of the brand. The logo for the brand is a crocodile which has been chosen since Rene Lacoste
was named The Crocodile on the court. Lacostes logo is one of the most famous around the world and
easily recognisable to people who see it [1]. When a brand loyal was asked about the logo they said
Rene Lacoste was the first one to use a logo on the front of the apparel and make it an identity for the
Lacoste promises to deliver apparel and accessories in the form of t-shirts, shirts, bottoms, dresses,
shoes, bags, perfumes and sports goods. These things form the basic tangibility for the brand as this is
their product offering. Lacostes goods are durable, performance oriented, fashionable, preppy and of
superior quality. When it comes to sophisticated elegance, no brand can beat Lacoste. Lacoste is well
aware of the intangibles it is providing to the customer. With a good balance of tangibles and intangibles
across the globe, Lacoste is able to provide a coherent brand concept.
When a person wears Lacoste, they gain a social standing amongst the people since Lacoste is seen as
a sign of success. It might be positioned as affordable luxury but people buy for social acceptance as
well. Also, since it promises good quality and durability the consumer can be assured of having a good
and long term experience with the product they purchase.


If brand building is to be thought of as a sequence of steps then the customer based brand equity model
can be used for the same. All brands in the world are trying to build a brand which has great brand equity
amongst the customers. The CBBE model is also useful for building this equity.
Figure 13: Customer Based Brand Equity model. Adapted from (Kapferer, 2009)

The first step of building a strong brand is building a strong identity. Creating a brand identity includes
building brand salience for the brand. It is measured by the ability of a customer to recall the brand in
certain situations and to recognise the need that the brand is designed to fulfil.
Whenever someone thinks of Polo and relaxed elegance in casual sportswear, they think of Lacoste.
Over the years, Lacoste has spent a considerable amount of money and time in positioning itself with the
polos. However just being associated with Polos may not be enough for the brand. In all the other
segments that the brand is trying to compete in, it is not present in the top of the mind recall. People see it
as an aspirational brand for casual and chic sportswear. It has positioned itself as an affordable luxury
To give meaning to a brand, it's important to create a brand image and establish what the brand is
characterized by and should stand for in customers' minds. Although a myriad of different types of brand
associations are possible, brand meaning broadly can be distinguished in terms of more functional,
performance- related considerations vs. more abstract, imagery related considerations.
Lacoste merchandise promises relaxed elegance and casual classiness. The clothes are constructed with
special cotton in a manner such that they are extremely comfortable for the wearer. They are reliable and
durable. The people who buy Lacoste are thus generally happy with the clothes they buy.
Lacoste is perceived as a super premium brand which gives the wearer a social standing. Wearing
Lacoste helps fulfil the social and psychological needs of the wearer as well. Lacostes image is preppy,
casual, sportswear, elegant and chic. These images a built from the apparel line they carry and the
promotions done by them. The crocodile which is the brand logo is an integral part of Lacostes brand
To implement the CBBE model, companies must pay attention to how customers respond to the brand, its
marketing activity, and sources of information (i.e., what customers think or feel about the brand). These
brand responses can be distinguished according to brand judgments and brand feelings (depending on
whether they stem from the head or heart).

Judgement for the brand is done on the basis of the facts that it is a well known French brand which
produces expensive but good quality casualwear. Its clothes can be worn by all demographics but the
price points may not allow the younger demographics to purchase it.
The feeling one gets on wearing or purchasing Lacoste is that of sophistication and elegance. They feel
accepted in a certain strata of the society. Lacoste is also not a brand that one wears to experiment with
their clothing.

In order for the brand to be successful, customers should feel they have a relationship with a brand. This
is the final step in building a brand and this is what decides whether the customer will be loyal or not.
The loyalty status of Lacoste users is usually very high. People who buy the brand often, get attached to it
and are extremely loyal to it. The high brand resonance can be seen amongst the people through the
online presence of the brand.

Strong brands are built by building all the elements of the brand prism in coherence with each other. This
leads to the building of a concise, clear and appealing brand identity. According to the brand prism,
Lacostes brand identity can be evaluated as follows:
Physique consists of the physical elements that come to mind when Lacoste is talked about with the
people. Lacoste is a brand that always provides good quality clothes and never compromises on fabrics
and dyes. The crocodile which is its logo invokes in the mind of the user an image of the brand
Personality deals with the character of the brand. It is built by communicating with consumers in a certain
way. The brand has developed a character of an authentic, sophisticated and serene brand.
The system of values and basic principles on which the brand has to base its behaviour is charecterised
by the culture is represents. Lacoste is very inherently based in sports. It acts as a direct link between the
organisation and brand. Lacoste, even though it is a super premium brand, is not over the top in its being.
Simplicity is ingrained in the brand ever since it was established.
Self-image is the mirror image the target group has of itself. A Lacoste consumer would always perceive
themselves as being elegant but in a discreet manner. Their manner of dressing may seem to be casual
but it is never out of place.
The people who wear Lacoste are much broader than the people actually being targeted by the brand.
Lacoste users are people who dont buy conspicuously and have a taste for understated luxury as
opposed to show off.
Lacoste symbolises the relationship between the people as someone who pushes you to do something
but in a manner which is not too overt. The person is accessible and reachable despite being a mentor.

For any brand to be successful it is necessary that it keeps on reinventing itself continuously. Once
Lacoste went into deep trouble in 1980s because of extensive distribution in mass market retailers below
its status, it had to take steps in order to regain its reputation in the market. Apart from the change in the
marketing strategy, it took several steps as follows in order to bring about this change.
Figure 15: Lacoste's Brand Extensions

80 years ago when Rene Lacoste started the brand, it was meant solely for men who played tennis.
Gradually, as the brand got more exposure, more lines were introduced for women, children and
accessories. Today the brand carries a full product portfolio which qualifies it to become a lifestyle brand.
2012 saw a major shift in the brands strategy on a global platform. Lacoste realised that women all over
the world are paying more attention to the brand than men are. Not only do women shop for their
husbands, brothers, fathers etc, but also the probability of them wanting sportswear for themselves was
increasing. Keeping this is mind Lacoste shifted its strategy to become more womenswear oriented.
With the new creative director, Felipe Oleviera Baptista, at the helm of the brand they have come up with
new fits and innovative designs for women in the brand. The polo shirts come in different fabrics such as
lycra and jersey and the fits are of multiple variety to suit the women. All the styles are offered with
different colour palates in line with new seasons trends. The sailor neck tops, dresses with dropped
armholes, softer fabrics like supple petit pique, cotton silk, and cotton viscose have been introduced into
the collection
A major role in the shift in strategy is played by the changing psychographics of the Indian women
consumer. They are more open now to working and spending on personal grooming and shopping. They
also want the clothes they wear to be comfortable and perfectly fitted and they dont mind paying a
premium for it.
In the 90s, Lacoste realised that even though it has a set of brand loyal customers, the youth is not able
to resonate with the brands principles. They found the brand too expensive or aristocratic or old. In order
to change the image, Lacoste introduced two new brands Lacoste L!VE and Lacoste LAB
Lacoste L!VE is a new collection thats all about invoking the playful, innovative spirit of the man behind
the crocodile, Ren Lacoste. It draws from a colorful, sporty heritage and impeccable French elegance
and mixes it up with contemporary styles to appeal to a young, style-savvy audience. Never taking itself
too seriously, Lacoste L!VE dares to strike an irreverent tone.
The idea behind Lacoste L!VE is to travel to different cities of the world and amalgamate the culture of
that city in to the quirkiness of Lacoste L!VE to product clothes that are intact with the heritage of the
brand. . Every year select special editions are co-created by designers across the globe, who interprets
Lacoste elegance in their own creativity. The first collection came from travelling to Montreal. For their
second collection, Lacoste has adopted the futurism, comics and wacky artists of Tokyo. However, there
still is respect for tradition in Tokyo and that is very much like Lacostes principles.
The main aim of the brand with Lacoste L!VE was to recruit young and trendy people and get them to talk
about fashion with Lacoste. The core target of Lacoste as a brand is not as interested in fashion as
people who would purchase Lacoste L!VE would be. By doing this Lacoste has created a desirability
about the brand and got people to talk about it again.
Lacoste Live is a smaller boutique format targeted at the fashion-oriented youth. It opened its first
showroom in Delhi in July. Apart from adding the womens range, the company also plans to add 2-3
more stores in Delhi and Mumbai and would expand the number of stores to 64 in the next three years. It
is looking at exploring Ahmedabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Indore and Kochi markets further in

This is the first time in 80 years that Lacoste is trying to cater to different segments of the market through
Lacoste L!VE. By producing clothes that are trendy and fashion forward, Lacoste has something even for
its younger customers. Lacoste Live has drawn very positive feedback in Europe and Asia. In Asia-Pacific,
Lacoste Live made up 8% of the sales. The portion came mostly from new customers.
The Lacoste LAB revives the tradition of innovation, appearing in the genes of the brand. Indeed, the
brands founder Ren Lacoste was also an inventor and designer. In addition to its famous polo L.12.12,
he made rackets, balls, clubs and golf bags, and the first machine to launch tennis balls. The products
from the Lacoste LAB range show the natural link between the brands history and its future, and
therefore guarantee its continuity.
Lacoste is a world-renowned French apparel company that specializes in clothing, leather goods, shoes, perfumes, watches, and
more particularly, in tennis shirts. Founded in 1933 in Troyes, France, the companys name is taken from its co-founder Rene
Lacoste, the legendary tennis player who joined hands with Andre Gillier, the owner of the largest French knitwear
manufacturing firm at the time, to form Lacoste.
The companys knitted cotton pique shirt revolutionized the sportswear businesses, making Lacoste one of the most-searched
fashion brands in the world.


Shape of the Lacoste Logo
The green crocodile logo of Lacoste is widely regarded as one of the most popular and instantly recognizable logos in the
fashion and apparel industries. Lacostes famous crocodile logo originates from a true story. The brands history goes way back,
when Rene Lacoste was nicknamed Crocodile by the American press, partly due to his infamous bet with the Captain of the
French Davis Cup team. The Captain had promised to give Rene a beautiful crocodile skin suitcase if he wins a very important
team match.
The name, that bettered Renes performance in every match, became immensely popular in American public. Renes friend,
Robert George, illustrated a red, green and white colored crocodile emblem which was later embroidered on Renes shirts and
blazers that he wore in all of his appearances.
The iconic Lacoste logo soon established one of the most successful apparel brands of postWorld War II. Its crocodile trademark
not only appeared on mens t-shirts, but also on womens and kids clothing, perfumes, bags, footwear, belts and wallets.
Font of the Lacoste Logo
The Lacoste logo incorporates a very elegant and slightly-rounded custom typeface.