Brand Reflections: test the strength of your brand identity

Comments Off

I’m fascinated by the 4G predictive tool developed by Four Groups that helps improve our understanding of how behaviour, relationships and culture develop within organisations.

How brand purpose might be discovered from organisational culture is a theme that crops up in the series of interviews I’ve been conducting with industry experts. It also ties in with a book project I’m working on with Like Minds that looks at, among other things, the humanisation of brands that Four Groups Michael Folkman discusses in the latest edition of the Best of Branded Content (BOBCM) series I curate..

Four Groups and I have been exploring whether an adapted version of the 4G tool could be used in a new way to help businesses understand and shape brand personality, as part of their humanisation.
One thing driving our collaboration is the fact that people form opinions about relatively abstract concepts such as brands in much the same way that they form relationships with other people. So, in theory, if predictive tools can be used to understand the relationships between people, then it should also be possible forthese tools to be used to quantify the relationships between individuals and brands.

Technology Businesses in the Brand Reflections Framework



  • E = Emotional – Brands are empathetic and focused on communication
  • I = Intangible – Brands are driven by ideas and future possibilities
  • L = Logical – Brands are analytical and precise in their approach
  • T =  Tangible – Brands are focused on the physical and easily measurable

More specifically, we saw an opportunity to explore the extent to which it’s possible to measure people’s different perceptions of a brand, and develop a framework whereby these variations could be represented and measured. By understanding these variations, it should be possible to develop a more consistent brand identity and deliver communication based around ‘personal’ brand characteristics. Ultimately, this could also help answer the following important question:

“Is there a link between strong, consistent brand identity and financial performance?”

Four Groups call this new framework ‘Brand Reflections’. In addition to helping answer the question above, it aims to meet a number of important criteria, including:

  • Easy to understand
  • Measurable and scalable
  • Quick and easy to run and administer • Statistically valid and replicable results

Four Groups started the development of the Brand Reflections model by applying 4G to help describe a series of detailed brand personalities and map their relationships to each other. This led to a four-quadrant model in which each quadrant represents a specific set of similar brand behaviours or characteristics. Proximity within the diagram indicates the level of psychological similarity.
The next step was to develop a questionnaire to capture brand perceptions. Four Groups’ 4G psychometric questionnaire was adapted for brand personality dimensions, resulting in a Brand Reflections questionnaire that can be completed in around 10 minutes.

It was decided that, as well as capturing current brand perceptions, it would be useful to have a second questionnaire that seeks to calibrate an ‘ideal’ brand perception. The ability to complete this questionnaire from a variety of different perspectives can be a valuable tool for brand managers, especially within their own teams. For example, it may be useful not only to discover how individuals perceive the brand to be at one point in time, but also to understand how each person thinks the brand should change or evolve over time. You may find that there’s a relatively consistent view of your brand at the moment, yet there may be a greater variation in how people want the brand to develop, or vice versa.

Perhaps the most crucial part of developing the Brand Reflections framework is to devise an accurate scoring algorithm. This is a process of trial and error, and the scoring is currently being refined in collaboration with experts from a range of disciplines at the intersection where branding meets brand narrative development, including people working from the inside out as part of leadership development.

We’re keen to look at the amount of data that can be analysed by Brand Reflections. If this sounds like it could be useful to your brand identity or storytelling development, please contact me to join the collaboration.

This article was original published in the 2015 Global Edition of the Best of Branded Content Marketing (BOBCM) series (see Edition Digital version below):

About the author

Justin Kirby is a consultant, educator and thought leader with a 20+ year career in industry as a digital strategist, producer and entrepreneur. He chairs and speaks at conferences around the globe, judge industry awards, and advise brands and agencies.