Personal Essay, 22 pages (5000 words)

Brand personality essay

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2. 0 REVIEW OF LITERATURE 2. 1 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND BRAND PERSONALITY A brand personality can be defined as the set of human characteristics associated with a given brand. Thus it includes such characteristics as gender, age, and socioeconomic class, as well as such classic personality traits as warmth, concern and sentimentality. Brand Personality like human personality, is both distinctive and enduring. For example, one analysis found Coke to be considered real and authentic whereas Pepsi was young, spirited and exciting.

Further, the personalities of both the brands had endured over time, sometimes in spite of efforts to augment or change them. The brand personality concept has considerable face validity (brand strategists and researchers are comfortable with it). Respondents in qualitative and quantitative research studies are routinely asked to profile the personalities if brands. Their responses come easily and generally interpretable and consistent across people.

Differences between groups (such as nonusers) are often reasonable and provide useful insights. Frequently for example, users will perceive a brand to have a strong personality, whereas nonusers may not: Oral B may be regarded as a serious, competent brand by the former, whereas the latter may regard it as being bland. Further, customers often interact with brands as if they were people, especially when the brands are attached to such meaningful products as clothes or cars.

Even if they do not give their possessions a personal nickname (as many do their cars), it is not uncommon to hear people talk of objects as if they were human: “ Sometimes my computer feels better after I let it rest awhile,” or “ Sometimes I think my car breaks down just to irritate me. ” MEASURING BRAND PERSONALITY The same vocabulary used to describe a person can be used to describe a brand personality. In particular, a brand can be described by demographics (age, gender, social class, and race), lifestyle (activities, interests, and opinions) or human personality traits (such as extroversion, agreeableness, and dependability).

A study developed and tested the Brand Personality Scale (BPS), a compact set of traits designed to both measure and structure brand personality. The development of the BPS involved more than 1000 U. S respondents, 60 well –known brands with distinct personalities, and 114 personality traits. Five personality factors (termed the Big Five) – Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness- emerged even when the sample was subdivided by age or gender and when the subsets of the brands were used. The Big Five explain nearly all (93%) of the observed differences between the brands.

Figure 2-1 describes the Big Five in terms of an extended set of traits in order to provide an understanding of their scope and richness. Each of the Big Five factors have been divided into facets to provide texture and descriptive insight regarding the nature and structure of the Big Five. The fifteen facets are given descriptive names in the Figure 2-1. Thus Sincerity breaks down to Down –To-Earth, Honest, Wholesome, and Cheerful, while Excitement contains the facets Daring, Spirited, Imaginative, and Up-To-Date. The fifteen facets suggest strategic options.

A strong sincerity brand, for example can emphasize Cheerful (sentimental, friendly and warm) instead of Honest (sincere, real and ethical) qualities. Or a brand high in Competence can stress Intelligent (technical, corporate, and serious) rather than Successful (leader, confident, and Influential) characteristics. In each case, the personality objective and the implementation strategy would be very different. The BPS study also measured the degree of positive or negative attitude towards each brand in comparison to other brands in the product category.

Of interest was the fact that personality variables were significantly related to attitude, with specific relationship varying by brand. Overall the personality traits, most associated with positive attitudes were primarily from the Sincerity factor, (e. g. , real sincere, genuine, original) and the Competence factor (e. g. , reliable, leader). The potential of the Sincerity factor may explain in part why several brands have turned to genuineness or authenticity as a core identity. Chevrolet developed the as theme “ Genuine Chevrolet” when its research found a reservoir of goodwill based on the Chevy heritage of the 1950s and 1960s.

One motivation for going “ genuine” is to draw on a strong brand heritage and capture the reassurance and emotional links that such a heritage provides. In general, Sincerity is often used by heritage brands such as Kodak and Coke. Excitement is another personality trait that has worked in several contexts such as cars, athletic equipment, cosmetics and even coffee. BIRTH OF A BRAND PERSONALITY Just as perceived personality of a person is affected by nearly everything associated with that person- including his or her own neighborhood, friends, activities, clothes and manner of interacting- so too is a brand personality.

Product-related characteristics can be primary drivers of a brand personality. Even the product class can affect the personality. A bank or insurance company, for example, will tend to assume a stereotypical “ banker” personality (competent, serious, masculine, older, and upper-class). An athletic shoe like Nike or Reebok might tend to be rugged, outdoorsy, and adventurous, as well as young and lively. A package or feature can also influence the brand personality, just as the white box with black splotches (reminiscent of Holstein cows) provides a down-to-earth personality for Gateway Computer.

Product attributes often affect the brand personality. If a brand is “ light” the brand personality might be described as being slender and athletic. A high- priced brand such as Tiffany might be considered wealthy, stylish, and perhaps a bit snobbish. A brand personality can also reinforce and represent an attribute. Non-product- related characteristics that can also affect a brand personality include advertising style, country of origin, company image, CEO identification, and celebrity endorsers. AT&T’s “ Reach out and touch someone” slogan and Calvin Klein’s Obsession advertising both helped define a strong personality for the brands.

A German brand like Audi might capture some perceived characteristics of German people (such as being precise, serious, and hard-working), and the company image of The Body Shop might suggest a social activist working hard to stimulate a change. The personality of a visible CEO such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates can also transfer to the brand, as can that of a celebrity endorser such as Penelope Cruz for L’Oreal. Other non-product-related brand personality drivers User imagery User imagery can be based on either typical users(people you see using the brand) or idealized users (as portrayed in advertising and elsewhere).

User imagery can be a powerful driver of brand personality, in part because the user is already a person and thus the difficulty of conceptualizing the brand personality is reduced. Sponsorships Activities such as events sponsored by the brand will influence its personality. Swatch, for example, reinforces its offbeat (even outrageous), youthful personality with targeted sponsorships that have included the Freestyle Ski World Cup in Breckenridge and the First International Break dancing Championship. Age How long a brand has been on the market can affect its personality.

Thus, newer entrants such as Apple, MCI and Saturn tend to have younger brand personalities than brands such as IBM, AT&T, and Chevrolet, and it’s all too common for a major or dominant brand to be seen as stodgy and old fashioned, a brand for older people. Symbol A symbol can be a powerful influence on brand personality because it can be controlled and can have extremely strong associations. In the early 1980s, IBM had an image problem- it was a business computer from a stuffy corporation, not a brand with which an individual buying his or her computer would necessarily be comfortable.

IBM attacked this problem by using the Charlie Chaplin problem to lighten up its personality and to reinforce the user friendly attribute of its PC Junior personal computers. The Chaplin character was initially effective, but it unfortunately was discarder after it came to be associated with the PC Junior Product, which was a failure. Thus IBM still struggles with an image problem to this day. Unlike real people, cartoon-character symbols rarely generate unfavorable surprises, and they do not age.

The Pillsbury Doughboy, for example, is likable and will reflect the desired attributes, such as freshness, in exactly the same way for as long as the company desires. In addition, the character can be revised as needed; for example the doughboy has gotten thinner, more active, and more enthusiastic over the years. A key attribute of cartoon symbols like the Pillsbury Doughboy is that they can make assertions without stimulating counterarguments from the audience. For starters, it would make no sense to argue with a fictional character, who will not talk back.

Further, the character is simply too likeable to be a target of discontent or anger. USING BRAND PERSONALITY The brand personality construct can help brand strategists by enriching their understanding of people’s perceptions of and attitudes toward the brand, contributing to a differentiating brand identity, guiding the communication effort, and creating brand equity. Enriching understanding The brand personality metaphor can help a manager gain in-depth understanding of consumer perceptions and of attitudes toward the brand.

By asking people to describe a brand personality, feelings and relationships can be identified that often provide more insight than is gained by asking about attribute perceptions. The arrogant and powerful personality ascribed by some to Microsoft, for example, provides insight into the nature of the relationship between Microsoft and its customers. Contributing to a differentiating identity Strategically, a brand personality, as a part of a core or extended identity, can serve as the foundation for meaningful differentiation, especially in contexts where brands are similar with respect to product attributes.

In fact, it can define not only the brand but the product-class context and experience. When Canon, a maker of high end cameras, came out with a performance camera that could be used in action contexts, it needed to create excitement and energy for the new product. Moreover, it needed to differentiate the product not only from competitors but from the rest of Canon. The solution was a sub brand, the Rebel, with a distinct brand personality: independent (even a bit wild and off-the-wall), forceful, and colorful. Guiding the communication effort

Tactically, the brand personality concept and vocabulary communicates the brand identity with richness and texture to those who must implement the identity-building effort. Practical decisions need to be made about not only advertising but packaging, promotions, which events to associate with and the style of personal interactions between the customer and the brand. If the brand is specified only in terms of attribute associations, little guidance is provided; so the brand personality statement provides depth and texture that make it easier to keep the communication effort on target. Figure 2-2 Creating Brand Equity BRAND

EQUITY BRAND EQUITY FUNCTIONAL BENEFIT REPRESENTATION MODEL FUNCTIONAL BENEFIT REPRESENTATION MODEL SELF EXPRESSION MODEL MODEL SELF EXPRESSION MODEL MODEL RELATIONSHIP BASIS MODEL RELATIONSHIP BASIS MODEL THE SELF-EXPRESSION MODEL The premise of the self-expression model is that for certain groups of customers, some brands become vehicles to express a part of their self-identity. This self-identity can be their actual identity or an ideal self to which they might aspire. People express their own or idealized identity in a variety of ways, such as job choice, friends, attitudes, opinions, activities, and lifestyles.

Brands that people like, admire, discuss, buy and use also provide a vehicle for expression. A brand can be used for expression even if it lacks a strong personality. A person can express frugality by buying a cheap brand, even one with a weak personality. Attaching even a fuzzy personality to a brand, however, usually provides insight into how that brand is being used for self-expression. If the brand has a strong personality, such as Harley-Davidson’s, the personality can be hypothesized to play a key role in the self-expression process.

Since the work of William James in the nineteenth century, social scientists have examined ways in which people use goods and possessions not only to satisfy functional needs but to provide meaning and organization to their lives. Grant McCracken, a consumer anthropologist, notes that a brand’s personality is part of its cultural meaning. He argues that consumers look for products and brands whose cultural meanings correspond to the person they are or want to become in- other words, that they use these brand meanings to construct and sustain their social self.

McCracken also notes that cultural meanings change over time. In a study of beer consumption, he found that for college men, beer drinking is associated with maleness and competition, and brands that provide those meanings are preferred. However, some men who develop new patterns of masculinity after college come to prefer other brands. Professional men, for example, tend to drink beer in a more sedate atmosphere where European beers are likely to be a good match for their more controlled, upscale social selves. The purchase and use of a branded product provides a vehicle for expressing a personality and lifestyle.

Some people may find themselves uncomfortable when an activity is pursued or a brand is used that is not true to their actual or ideal self. In contrast, an activity or brand that “ fits” can create comfort and satisfaction and can make people feel more fulfilled. A BRAND HELPS TO EXPRESS A PERSONALITY A brand can help people express their personality in several ways that vary in terms of the intensity and the process. Feelings Engendered by the Brand Personality There can be a set of feelings and emotions attached to a brand personality, just as there are to a person.

Some brands can be aggressive and pushy, while others can be warm and empathetic. Such use of brand can cause feelings and emotions to emerge. Feelings might exist when using a Harley –Davidson or Royal Enfield, for example that would not emerge when using a Yamaha or Bajaj. These feelings can be a part of self-expression. A warm person will be most fulfilled when a warm feeling occurs; similarly, an aggressive person will seek out contexts where aggression is accepted. The Brand as a Badge A brand could serve as a person’s personal statement even if that person were on a desert island with no others present.

However, there often is also a potential for brands- particularly those that are visible or “ badge” brands- to have substantial social impact. The presence of a brand (or even the attitudes held toward it) can serve to define a person with respect to others, and when social identity is involved, what is expressed can be very important to the individual. Thus the product categories such as autos, cosmetics, and clot hers lend themselves to personality expression because their use occurs in a social context with relatively high involvement.

Individuals evaluating and interpreting another person’s identity will observe the car driven and the clothes worn. The Brand Becomes Part of the Self The ultimate personality expression occurs when a brand becomes an extension or an integral part of the self. Imagine the full time biker and his or her Harley; the bike and the person become impossible to disentangle. The potential to create this oneness with some people can represent a significant opportunity for a brand. In consumer behavior literature, Russell Belk suggests that objects go beyond representing one to actually become a part of the self.

Belk mentions collection items, gifts, and family heirlooms as particularly strong examples of products that become a part of one’s extended self (1) are central to one’s identity, (2) have a deep emotional attachment to the self, and (3) are somehow “ controlled” by the individual. MULTIPLE PERSONALITES In the 1950s and early 1960s, a self-expression model emerged that was stimulated in part by the motivation research (in depth interviewing using clinical psychoanalytic methods and theories).

It hypothesized that a person’s personality would match that of the product classes of brands he or she used. A series of studies explored this hypothesis empirically by relating a person’s current and /or ideal self-image with the brand personality of brands purchased. The general conclusion was that although a relationship existed, it was relatively weak or inconsistent. There are several methodological explanations for these somewhat discouraging findings. The most compelling explanation, however, is that the assumption that a person has a single or self-image maybe erroneous.

Indeed, psychologists and sociologists have conceived of multiple-personality systems in which certain parts of a person’s personality would emerge in different contexts (such as social gatherings, vacation, and work) and in different social roles ( such as friend, colleague, boss or parent). The personality that dominates will depend on the role that is being played and the situation in which the role is being expressed. Each of these multiple personalities needs to be expressed some more than the others. Thus there maybe a little bit of Harley Davidson in a lot of males, and perhaps a lot of Harley in a few.

A man may be accurately described as a meticulous lawyer who dresses neatly and leads an organized lifestyle, and his ideal self may not be much different. A desire to express that bit of Harley that exists within him, though, may result in the purchase of Harley clothing or even of a bike. To test the premise that people use brands to express their self, and that this self, changes across situations, a laboratory experiment was conducted in which respondents indicated their preferences for brands with certain personalities in specific situations.

The study found that the brand preferences change when the situations changed. Like a person, a brand can exemplify different personalities in different contexts and roles. People’s feelings toward a brand can thus differ depending on the context. In order to understand the brand’s personality profile, it can be helpful to look at the brand’s use context. Does the brand change personalities in different use contexts? Will attempting to generalize the brand’s personality across contexts hide the potential for a strong personality impact? BRAND PERSONALITY AND SELF –EXPRESSION NEEDS MUST FIT

In order to be effective, a brand personality needs to be desirable and important enough to matter to the person using the brand. The person should feel better because of an association with the brand. For example, a brand with a reliable, distinguished personality would not appeal much to someone who needs to express his or her youth. Band personality effects might be larger for visible, involving products like cars and clothes. Then the fit between the brand personality, the context, and the self-expression need is right, however any brand personality may facilitate identity expression.

THE RELATIONSHIP BASIS MODEL Some people may never aspire to have the personality of a competent leader but would like to have a relationship with one, especially if they need a banker or a lawyer. A trustworthy, dependable, conservative personality might be boring but might nonetheless reflect characteristics valued in a financial advisor, a lawn service, or even a car- consider the Volvo brand personality. The concept of a relationship between a brand and a person (analogous to that between two people) provides a different perspective on how brand personality might work.

To see how the relationship basis model works, consider the personality types of people with whom you have relationships and the nature of those relationships. Some of the types might be as follows: * Down –to-earth, family oriented, genuine, old- fashioned (Sincerity). This might describe brands like Hallmark, Kodak, and even Coke. The relationship might be similar to one that exists with a well-liked and respected member of the family. * Spirited, young, up-to-date, outgoing (Excitement). In the soft drink category, Pepsi fits this mold more than Coke.

Especially on a weekend evening, it might be enjoyable to have a friend who has these personality characteristics. * Accomplished, influential, competent (Competence). Perhaps Hewlett- Packard and the Wall Street Journal might fit this profile. Think of a relationship with a person whom you respect for their accomplishments, such as a teacher, minster or business leader; perhaps that is what a relationship between a business computer and its customer should be like. * Pretentious, wealthy, condescending (Sophistication).

For some, this would be BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus (with gold trim) as opposed to the Mazda Miata or the VW Golf. The relationship could be similar to one with a powerful boss or a rich relative. * Athletic and outdoorsy (Ruggedness). Nile (versus LA Gear), Marlboro (versus Virginia Slims), and Wells Fargo (versus Bank of America) are examples. When planning an outing, a friend with outdoorsy interests would be welcome. Two elements thus affect an individual’s relationship with a brand. First, there is the relationship between the brand-as-person and the customer, which is analogous to the relationship between the people.

Second, there is the brand personality-that is, the type of person the brand represents. The brand personality provides depth, feelings and liking to the relationship. Of course, a brand – customer relationship can also be based on functional benefit, just as two people can have a strictly business relationship. THE BRAND AS A FRIEND One important relationship for many brands is a friendship link characterized by trust, dependability, understanding, and caring. A friend is there for you, treats you with respect, is comfortable, is someone you like, and is an enjoyable person with whom to spend time.

General Foods, in fact defines brand equity as a ‘ liking’ or a ‘ friendship’ relationship between the customer and the brand. A friend relationship can involve very different brand personalities. Some friends are fun and irreverent. Others are serious and command respect. Others are reliable and unpretentious. Still others are just comfortable to be around. A focus on the friend relationship rather than the brand personality can allow more scope and flexibility in the implementation of the brand identity.

Fred Posner of Ayer Worldwide has observed that people live in a world characterized by stress, alienation, and clutter. Noting that people cope by developing escape mechanisms and meaningful friendships, Posner suggests that brands can provide these roles by being either an ’aspirational’ or a ‘ trusted’ associate. Escape can take the form of aspirational relationships which provided a social lift or trusting relationships which provided some expertise or knowledge of a subject in which a person is interested.

Posner believes that either relationship can be the basis for real differentiation and competitive advantage. He suggests that the chosen relationship should be the centerpiece of brand strategy and execution. WHAT IF THE BRAND SPOKE TO YOU? When considering the brand personality, the natural tendency is to consider the brand to be a passive element in the relationship. The focus is upon the consumer perceptions, attitudes and behavior toward the brand; attitudes and perceptions of the brand are hidden behind the closed doors of the organization.

Yet your relationship with another person is deeply affected by not only who that person is but also what that person thinks of you. Similarly, a brand-customer relationship will have an active partner at each end, the brand as well as the customer. Max Blackston of Research International has argued that to understand brand-customer relationships, it is necessary to consider what a brand thinks of you. One approach is obtaining this information is to ask what the brand would say to you if it were a person. The result can be illuminating.

Blackston illustrates this approach with a doctor-patient example. Consider a doctor who is perceived by all to be professional, caring, capable and funny- characteristics that most would like in a doctor. But what if the doctor also felt you were a boring hypochondriac? The resulting negative relationship would be impossible to predict based upon the perceptions of the doctor’s personality or external appearance. Blackston’s approach was used in a research study of a credit card brand. Customers were divided into two groups based on how they thought the personified brand would relate to them.

For one customer segment (labeled the ‘ respect’ segment), the personified brand was seen as dignified, sophisticated educated world traveler who would have a definite presence in a restaurant. These customers believed that the card would make supportive comments to them like the following: * “ My job is to help you get accepted” * “ You have good taste” A second “ intimidated” segment, however, described as very different relationship with the brand. This group’s view of the brand personality was similar to that observed in the respect segment, but had a very different spin.

The credit card was perceived as being sophisticated and classy but also snobbish and condescending. This segment believed that the personified card would make negative comments such as the following: * “ Are you ready for me, or will you spend more than you can afford? ” * “ If you don’t like the conditions, get another card. ” * “ I’m so well-known and established that I can do what I want. ” * “ If I were going to dinner, I would not include you in the party. ” These two user segments had remarkably similar perceptions of the brand personality especially with respect to its demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

The two different perceived attitudes of the credit card toward the customer, however, reflected two very different relationships with the brand which in turn resulted in very different levels of brand ownership and usage. Contexts in which it is often worthwhile to consider what a brand might say to a customer include those listed below. Upscale brands with a snobbish spin- Nearly any prestige or badge brand risks appearing snobbish to some in the target market. This risk is often greater for those on the fringe of or just beyond the target market.

Performance brands talking down to customers- Talking down to customers is a common danger for performance brands. Power brands flexing their muscles- A brand that has power over the marketplace like Microsoft in the 1990s or IBM in the past, has a real advantage as a result of being in the industry standard. The risk is that by promoting this advantage, the brand maybe perceived as being arrogant and willing to smother small, defenseless competitors. Intimidated brands showing their inferiority- A brand might risk appearing inferior if it tries too hard to be accepted into a more prestigious competitive grouping.

Humor in advertising, helps avoid this pitfall. RELATIONSHIP SEGMENTATION Research International routinely segments consumers by brand relationship. In a first phase research effort, fifty to a hundred subjects are interviewed usually by phone. A series of open-ended questions are asked, including word associations, brand personalization, characteristics of liked and disliked brands, and a dialogue section (based on what the brand would say if it were a person). The first analysis stage involves scanning the data and forming hypotheses about the types of relationships that exist.

In the second stage, respondents are allocated to relationship categories on the basis of the hypothesized relationship groupings. In the process, the relationship typology is refined. The relationships are then formalized into specifications, and coders classify the respondents into those relationships. The groups are then profiled. Often the relationship groupings correspond to like, dislike, and neutral segments. The “ dislike” group for credit cards, for example, perceived the brand as being snobbish; “ like” group, in contrast, felt that they were accepted by the brand.

THE BRAND AS AN ACTIVE RELATIONSHIP PARTNER Susan Fournier of Harvard, who has worked extensively with the brand-as-relationship concept, notes that brand actions have distinct implications for both the imputed brand personalities and for the brand-customer relationship. This concept is inspired by act frequency, which posits that key indicators of a person’s personality can be revealed by a systematic observation of trait-relevant behavior. It is in behavior that the true personality emerges- in short, you are what you do.

Just a person’s behavior affects others’ perceptions of his or her personality, so too does a brand’s actions affect its perceived personality. Brand behavior and imputed motivations, in addition to affecting brand personality, can also directly affect the brand-customer relationship. A relationship of dependency (where you could not get along without the product) would be damaged by an out-of-stock condition, which would temporarily deny access. A friendship relationship based upon a warm and accessible brand personality might be changed if the brand were radically repositioned as being technologically advanced.

The reinforcement of a ritual or routine, in contrast, could strengthen a relationship characterized by familiarity and comfort. Thus brand personality is not just a customer perception to be manipulated. Rather, the attitude and behavior of the brand is important. The brand identity and strategy, although seemingly behind the scenes, should be considered as a part of the relationship. Such a perspective enhances the likelihood that brand programs will be developed that will support the brand identity. BRAND RELATIONSHIP QUALITY

Certainly a goal of brand strategists is to create segments with high brand loyalty. In the context of the relationship metaphor, the goal is a high brand relationship quality (BRQ). But what are the dimensions of BRQ? How can it be measured? Insight into brand relationship quality comes from psychologists who have studied in some depth the nature of relationships and the characteristics of ideal relationships. Drawing on this body of work plus research on the success of leadership brands, Susan Fournier has developed seven dimensions of brand relationship quality.

These dimensions are associated with strong relationships between people and suggest how brand- customer relationships should be conceived, measured, and managed. The seven dimensions are as followed: 1. Behavioral interdependence. The degree to which the actions of the relationship partners are intertwined is indicated by the frequency of, importance of, and involvement in the interaction. * This brand plays an important role in my life. * I feel like something’s missing when I haven’t used the brand in a while. 2. Personal commitment.

The partners are committed to each other. There is a desire to improve or maintain the quality of the relationship over time, and guilt is felt when it is compromised. * I feel very loyal to this brand. * I will stay with this brand through good times and bad. 3. Love and passion. Intense emotional bonds between partners, and the inability to tolerate separation, reflect the love and passion that exists. In relationships where customers develop passionate links to brands, substitutes create discomfort. * No other brand can quite take the place of this brand. I would be very upset if I couldn’t find this brand. 4. Self- concept connection. The partners share common interests, activities, and opinions. * The brand’s and my self-image are similar. * The brand reminds me of who I am. 5. Intimacy. A deep understanding exists between partners. The customer will achieve intimacy by knowing details about the brand and its use. One-on one marketing programs enhance intimacy by fostering mutual understanding. * I know a lot about this brand. * I know a lot about the company that makes this brand. 6. Nostalgic connection.

The relationship is based in part on the memory of good times. * The brand reminds me of things I’ve done or places I’ve been. * This brand will always remind me of a particular phase of my life. 7. Partner Quality. This dimension reflects the evaluation by one partner of the performance and attitude of the other, including the evaluation by the consumer of the brand’s attitude toward him or her. * I know this brand really appreciates me. * This brand treats me like a valued customer. The first three dimensions can be viewed as being variants of brand loyalty.

The remaining four, however, introduce qualitatively different measures of relationships. The two statements associated with each dimension provide items for a possible measurement scale. THE FUNCTIONAL BENEFIT REPRESENTATION MODEL The self-expression model and the relationship basis model provide contexts in which brand personality can be the basis for a brand strategy and a link to the customer. A brand personality can also play a more indirect role by being a vehicle for representing and cueing functional benefits and brand attributes.

When it works best, it can capture the value proposition driving a brand strategy, for example, the Harley-Davidson personality of a rugged, macho, freedom-seeking person suggests that the product is a powerful, liberating vehicle. The product attributes would be much less convincing without the personality behind them. The symbol When a visual symbol or image exists that can create and cue the brand personality, the ability of the personality to reinforce brand attributes will be greater.

A brand personality that represents a functional benefit or attribute maybe relatively ineffective if it lacks a visual image established in the customer’s mind. Country or region association A country or region of origin can add credibility to an identity. It can also generate a strong personality that provides not only a quality cue but also an important point of differentiation that can lead to effective marketing and communication programs. BRAND PERSONALITY VERSUS USER IMAGERY User imagery is defined as the set human characteristics associated with the typical user of the brand.

In both academic and practitioner research, there is a tendency to equate brand personality and user imagery; researchers often measure personality by asking questions about the user of the brand. The implicit assumption is that the two elements are identical and that respondents will find it easier to conceptualize user imagery than brand personality. For some brands, the differences between user imagery and brand personality are indeed minor. In most of these cases the brand is targeting a specific user profile, and that well- developed user profile is the primary driver of brand personality.

For many brands, however, a significant difference between brand and user personality can be important to the brand strategy. When a brand’s personality differs from its user imagery, the reference group can be based either or both. Members of the hip-hop culture embraced such shoe and clothing brands as Timberland, Car Hart, Ben Davis, and Dickees. They were attracted by the brands’ personality, usually related to authenticity, farming, good value, simple people and simple times. At the same time, new user imagery was created—namely, the prototypical hip-hop individual.

Thus a driver for many customers was to be accepted by the group represented by this user imagery. ON CREATING USER IMAGERY User imagery can be driven by actual users, those who are seen “ around town” using the brand. Of course, actual user profiles may not be desirable or controllable. One way to de-emphasize undesirable actual-user imagery is to promote idealized or stylized users in advertising to other marketing efforts linked to the brand. BRAND PERSONALITY AS A SUSTAINABLE ADVANTAGE In summary, a brand personality can help a brand in several ways.

First, it can provide a vehicle for customers to express their own identity. Self- expression is usually more vivid when the brand has a strong personality, because it it’s a personality that is being expressed. Second, a brand personality metaphor helps suggest the kind of relationship that customers have with the brand, a relationship that is modeled after person-to-person relationships. Third, brand personalities serve to represent and cue functional benefits and product attributes effectively. The important aspect of a brand personality is that it is often a sustainable point of differentiation.

Consider the personality of Harley-Davidson; its brand personality is unique within the product class. As such, it provides a powerful vehicle to develop an identity, a communications effort, and in fact a whole marketing program. Further, it is sustainable because it is very difficult (and usually ineffective) to copy a personality. Brands that have a personality should consider enhancing it and making it a point of leverage within the brand identity. Those without personalities are usually vulnerable, exposed to attacks like stationary fortresses.

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