188.8.131.52 Brand elements.
Brand elements and brand identity are often used next to each other to identify the brand, to enhance brand awareness and to facilitate unique brand associations which ultimately should differentiate the brand (Keller, 2006:140). Conventional brand elements form the visual identity of a brand, a logo, a name, a slogan and brand stories can be addressed as the key elements. The visual identity reflects the core brand identity code and should be managed by strict visual code guidelines for long term consistency without jeopardizing brand identity deviation (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:92).
Keller completes these four key elements as captured by the visual code with a set of additional trademarkable devices; URL’s, symbols, characters, spokes people, packages and signage. Next to that Keller distinguishes six general criteria for brand elements, segregated in two groups in which the elements play an offensive or defensive role. Each brand element will have its own strength and weakness. Key to brand equity is the mixture and balance between the different elements in their verbal and visual context to maximize their collective contribution (Keller, 2006:178):
On the offensive side, to built brand equity, brand elements should be memorable and distinctive, easy to recognize and easy to recall: the sticky factor. Secondly brand elements need to be meaningful to convey the descriptive or persuasive content. Descriptive meaning; is the customer able to identify the right product category and is the brand element credible in this product category. Hence, the descriptive dimension is a determinant of brand awareness and salience. Persuasive in this context means a determinant of brand image and positioning. It is the specific information about particular key attributes and benefits of the brand. This could even reflect brand personality. Last offensive criteria, likability, reflect aesthetical appealing like the brand style and brand themes (Keller, 2006:140-178).
On the defensive side, to maintain brand equity, brand elements should be transferable in such a way that they can cover more then one product, product line, market segments, geographic boundaries, markets and cultures. Secondly brand elements need to be adaptable and flexible in time to remain relevant. Protectability is the last defensive criteria and considers the legal and unauthorized competitive infringements of the brand. To balance the most important elements across the six general criteria Keller has set a table of brand options and tactics. The main brand elements have been categorized by Keller in five groups, see table 1 (Keller, 2006:140-178).
Table 1. Critique of brand element options (Keller, 2006:178)
The above six general criteria for brand elements, so called visual identity code, reduce the risk of diluting or weakening the brand and form a guideline for a consistent brand performance (Kotler & Pfoertsch, 2006:92).
To understand the interdependencies of the mentioned individual brand elements Arnold categorize the elements into three groups, as displayed in figure 10. The core of the brand anatomy is formed by the essence; the brand personality to differentiate the brand within the market. The benefits in the second ring stand for the wants and needs of the customer that the brand needs to deliver. Finally the outer ring represents the actual attributes of the product. Arnold claims to work from in to out whereby the product attribute do not class with the brand essence. Consequently they should lever the essence by offering relevant benefits (Arnold, 1992:17-21).
Figure 10. The relationship between the elements of a brand (Arnold, 1992:17).