Nov 12, 2018 | 0 comments

Nov 12, 2018 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments



Introduction 2

Components of the AC4 ID test 2

Actual identity 2

Communication 3

Conceived brand identity 3

Covenanted corporate brand identity 3

Cultural corporate brand 4

Ideal corporate brand identity 4

Desired corporate brand 5

Conclusion 5




The AC4 ID Test diagnostic framework was developed by Balmer (2012) who insists that senior managers need and have to recognize the importance of the multi-faceted nature of brand management. In marketing, the most important asset and one which can be manipulated to the benefit of the company. A good brand is not only sought after by the company itself but also by other stakeholders. Consumers are drawn to the successful brand names. In addition, suppliers and investors tend to trust more in the successful brand names. At the first interaction, the corporate bran provides a promise, a surety of services that will be delivered. With continues interaction, an identity is identified that is, the customer and investors begin to understand and relate with regard to the deliverables assured by the brand.

According to (Tollington 2002) there are three major concerns for the senior management when it comes to brand management.

  • Brand custodianship: the senior management needs to own the brand and therefore set up policies that are directed at building the brand. It is only when the senior management own the brand; the workers and the customers are able to buy into the brand.
  • Credibility: majority of the companies take time and resources investing in the brand name. Many promises are made through the brand name. It is this promises that often drawn in customers into the business. Unfortunately little effort is often made in ensuring that the brand promises are delivered. When credibility of the brand is not guaranteed, customer trust is hard to regain (Temporal 2002; Salinas 2009).
  • Calibration: this involves serious research into the market needs so that the company brand matches the needs of the customers. In addition, the brand is aligned to meaningfully elaborate the identity of the company.

Components of the AC4 ID test

Actual identity: a brand name defines the company’s identity. It allows the company to redefine itself to communicate to the consumers what the company is all about. (Balmer 2012) indicates that the brand name is the first interaction with the consumer. It is the level at which the company separates itself from other producers and manufacturers. It focuses and gives attention to what the company wants the consumer to know about the product or service that is being offered. At the core of the brand identity is the two elements that define the brand. On the one hand is the brand logo, which consists of visual elements which are used to assist the customer to identify the brand. The brand logo makes use of specific fonts, images and even colors that are unique and clearly identifiable. They allow the customer to distinguish between competitor brands, and in the same way to elicit positive emotions when the logo and visual elements of the brand identity are brought into light.

Identity also includes short statements which are easily identifiable and often linked to the product and services of the company. For example, for major companies such as coca cola each product has its own form of brand identity which is covered in the main brand.

Communication: there is often no use in having a good and quality brand name if the same is not communicated to the consumer. Consumers need to remain aware of the nature of the brand name, what it represents and what it can provide. They need to be able to draw a clear line between the services promised by the company and the needs that they have. The brand name communicates to the customer the potential and the purpose of the company. Consumers are often more willing to interact with companies if they understand and feel that such companies have a unique purpose. Communication therefore is not just about becoming monetary to statistical. It is not telling the consumer what they need, but instead a conversation which reveals what the consumer needs and in turn how the organization addresses the same need. For senior management, communication is intentional and strategic. Communication needs to be consistent; a constant reminder to the consumer about what the company stands for. This ensures that competition does not have the chance to sway loyal customers and at the same time allows the company to build a strong customer base.

Conceived brand identity: when building the brand identity, the company often has a specific focus. That is, there is often a message that the senior management wishes to send to the consumer and other stakeholder with regard to its products and services. Take for example IKEA the large furniture company that is often credited for the best marketing concepts and strategies today. The company has been greatly focused in the past on communicating quality and cost effectiveness. However as (Mallik 2009) shows, what the management wishes to communicate and what is in turn communicated and grasped by the consumer maybe two different concepts. This is what is termed as the perceived brand identity. It is the simple way in which stakeholders understand the brand. The conceived brand identity often provides a unique perspective which can in turn be exploited to the benefit of the company.

Going back to the example of IKEA, while cost effectiveness and quality are an important aspect of any company, majority of the consumers showed interest in the company simply because it provided a wholesome picture of a perfect home. On this discovery, the company intermarried the concepts and came up with a brand that is directed at wholesome existence of strong homes. The result has been an increase in the capital share market in the industry with competition still trying to catch up. According to Keller (1998) Majority of the senior management ignore or do not understand the importance of conceived brand identity. Yet it is through this conceived brand especially by the consumers that they can identify opportunities and needs of the consumers which strategically place the company in a position to gain competitive edge. It is important to note that the brand is not just a definition of the company but also communicates the unique nature of the company in relation to customer needs, trends and tastes.

Covenanted corporate brand identity: (Kapferer 2008; Ford 2005) posits a question to senior managers with regard to branding. What exactly are you promising the customer? The brand is a simple promise to the customer, a promise which draws the interest of the customer and therefore gives them the desire to interact with the company. Often there are times when the customer comes to the company because they have been promised that their needs will be met by the company product and/ or services. Unfortunately, if the company does not deliver on such promises there are chances that the brand name and identity begins to work against them. Take for example; the Toyota Company which is the early 90’s was leading manufacturer of vehicles. After a series of bad products some of which have been recalled, the company has lost a great deal of its market share to Ford and other manufactures who have come into the market with the same promises that the original Toyota had made. That is, cheap and quality products. The covenanted corporate brand therefore must be easily identifiable but also easily achieved by the company. There is no need of making major promises which the company cannot deliver or sustain.

Entering the market with the promise of cheapest products maybe a good way to run off competition and make a mark. However, such strategy may be difficult to maintain and sustain for long. It may therefore be much wiser to have another fall back plan, one which still calls to the customer but also is easy to maintain while uniquely distinguishing the company from competition (Glynn and Woodside 2009).

Cultural corporate brand: (Sagar 2009) shows that the majority of companies and organizations fail when it comes to branding simply because they view the brand as the statement or logo of the company only. He suggests taking serious consideration of major companies that have successfully branded themselves. Such companies as Coca cola and General motors which continue to be the benchmark of branding, decades after their brands were established, are not only about the logo. Everything within the company is centered on the brand. (Randall 1997; Coomber 2002) add that the culture of the organization, in its entirety is insistent on building and successfully establishing the brand. This can only happen when senior management own the brand, they make it a part of the organization. In essence the brand becomes the foundation upon which all decision making of the company is done. All products and services of the company must be measured through the brand. If some aspects do not measure up to the brand and the promises it has made to the consumers and the market, then it’s simply ignored or thrown out.

The culture of the company should be such that it does not compromise the brand. This means that the values and objectives of the company are based and indeed are the external characteristics which define the brand without failure. Each must co-exist with the other and not separate from each other (Klopper and North 2011).

Ideal corporate brand identity: this is the main responsibility for senior management. It speaks to the future of the company, that is what the aim and objective of the company is. What would the senior management of the company like the company to be identified with by consumers? In the past, brand names were thought to be seasonal, that is, often changing as per the needs, trends and tastes of the consumers. As such, it was common for brands to change not just their visual aids or boisterous promises but also the entire brand of the company including the name in an attempt to draw more consumers. However, today senior management remains aware that a brand name is not just for the present but also to secure the future customers. (Uhlmann 2005; Tanaka 2012) clearly states that a brad often outlives a company and its products. While the company may change, and even products and services change, consumers will continue interacting with the brand generations to come.

In order to develop an ideal corporate brand, senior management often has to define the desires, objectives and goals of the company. The ideal brand is one which brings all these aspects into fruition easily and without much effort from the various fronts of the company.

Desired corporate brand: whereas the ideal corporate brand is what the brands needs to be in order to compete successfully, there is the desire of the management and stakeholders with regard to what they want the brand to be. This is the personal picture which they have designed and build and often work towards achieving. It may change, dependent on the nature of the management and the operations environment (Elliot and Percy 2007). In essence it is the individual definition which they have for the brand. Often when CEOs change, they come with their own vision and desire for the company that is what they wish the brand to be. (Arnold 1992;Abrahams 2008) indicate that for senior management, the brand is like a new person they are interacting with. They often have different desires and definitions of how they want to interact with this person. Each relationship is different, and seldom do two managers have the same desire to build the same brand.


Senior managers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring successful branding. However, there are times when they are faced and they encounter brand malady. This is the decline in performance of the brand (Brown 1990). The above test allows the senior management to re-define and test the strength of their brand easily. By identifying weaknesses and challenges that have affected the brand, they are able to establish a stronger and sustainable brand.


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