BUILDING THE BRAND IDENTITY THROUGH AESTHETICS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: THE AESOP CASE STUDY
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The increased competition in the retail industry has forced brands to adapt. Quality as well as availability are no longer enough to attract customers and increase market share, due to the standardization of mass production and the rise of e-commerce. In the same time, social media such as Instagram have changed the relationship between brands and customers. Brands are now using social media to promote their products as well as to establish a dialogue with their followers. In this context, brands are looking for new ways to differentiate in order to create a lasting competitive advantage. In the continuity of designing increasingly aesthetic products, some brands such as Aesop have established themselves as aesthetic-driven brands and use aesthetics to communicate on social networks. Research has not yet focused on the use of aesthetics on social media for branding purposes. However, this theme is crucial because it combines three major phenomena - the rise of branding, social networks and aesthetics - which are already a characteristic feature of contemporary marketing. The objective of my research is to observe whether aesthetics can be used to build brand identity on social media. To do so, I chose to analyse over one year the Instagram communication of the Aesop brand, an aesthetic-driven skincare brand, using Kapferer’s brand identity prism. I showed that the use of aesthetics on social networks allows the brand identity to be built in two ways: showing virtually what constitutes its physical identity and symbolising the intangible elements that constitute its identity. Both of these ways have potential positive long-term effects on customer relations: improving and deepening the customer experience.