Published: 20th June 2011
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Social Media Strategy and Branding: HOW DID NIKE USE FOUR TIERS TO CREATE A BRAND

A world class brand is created through four tiers. The tiers are image, identity, positioning, and differentiation. Success in social media marketing is dependent upon branding. There is an explosion of products in the new media age. Your product must have a strong brand if it is going to be selected by consumers. Simply put, before a product is selected, it must be known. A marketer must create a strong brand for it.

The creation of the brand is the end result of 4 concepts. The four concepts are Brand Image, Brand Identity, Brand Positioning, and Brand Differentiation. Let me give a brief definition of all four concepts. This is how Nike was able to create a world class brand. Understand that in new media, brands take on almost human persona


BRAND IMAGE. A brand image is how a brand sees itself. More importantly, it is how consumers perceive the brand.

BRAND INDENTITY. A brand identity is "who we are". Our identity is our personality. In the psychology of personality, personal identity is critical to being a healthy, well-adjusted human being. A healthy person understands who they are. Are we athletic, are we honest, are we hardworking, are we caring, are we cold---exactly who are we, anyway. This is our brand identity. Identity goes to a brandís values. The identity of Nikeís brand is that it wanted to do good things.

BRAND POSITIONING. Positioning is a comparison between two products. We compare our product in relation to another product in a product space. Some sneakers are designed for basketball. Some sneakers are designed for walking.

BRAND DIFFERENTIATION. Differentiation is a perceptual thing. After the brand has been positioned, a marketer must define the product in the customerís mind. After basketball sneakers are positioned, they are defined by the saying "Öit must be the shoes".

Let me illustrate how Nike these 4 concepts in creating a world class sneaker brand. This is how Nike created an icon in American marketing.

IMAGE. Nikeís image is that it makes "cool sneakers"

IDENTITY. The brandís identity is that Nike is made up of good people. As this brand progressed, it moved its manufacturing production off shore. It used outside outsourcing organizations that used abusive labor practices in host countries. This created serious image problems for the brand. In addition to it causing perception problems, the practices were just plain wrong. The brand understood this. It took a strong proactive role in righting these wrongs. The brand did this because this is what its identity was---a brand made up of good people who did the right thing in the proper manner. Nike used its identity to recreate its wounded image. The image reinforced Nikeís positioning and its differentiation.

POSTIONING. The brand created a world class brand in basketball shoes. To create its brand, it contrasted these sneakers in relation to walking and running shoes.

DIFFERENTIATION. The basketball sneakers were differentiated with the line, "Öit must be the shoes".

Dean Hambleton

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