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  1. 1. ADVERTISING By Dr. Darren Coleman BSc (Hons) Business Management (2012) Submitted by: Wong See Mun University ID: 1210610 Word Count: 1876 Question Attempted: Essay 4
  2. 2. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       1   Introduction This essay serves to examine the extent of brands having a personality through the comparison with physiologist definition of personality. The evaluation of the widely used Aaker (1997) brand personality framework will then provide insights to the value of brand personality in brand marketing. The second part of the essay will briefly illustrate the importance of the personification of brands in consumers’ brand choice behavior. The theory of self-concept and how consumers’ values influence the choice of brands to project their personality will also be discussed. The Extent Of Brands Having A Personality Personality originated from the psychologist field of study. From the evolution of Freudian to Neo-Freudian to Trait theory, the ‘Dictionnaire Fondamental de la Psychologie’ (Bloch et al., 1997) defined personality as the “set of relatively stable and general dynamic, emotional and affective characteristics of an individual’s way of being, in his/her way to react to the situations in which s/he is.” In most cases, the word does not include the cognitive aspects of the behavior (intelligence, abilities, knowledge). It always deals with the affective, emotional and dynamic aspects. Personality is [more often than not] described in terms of traits.” (Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003, p.147) The widely used and accepted Big Five model (McCrae & Costa, 1990) covering the 5 dimensions (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism) were therefore derived to measure personality. Many literatures have supported that like humans, brands have personalities (Aaker, 1997). Similar to how personality of a person can be perceived through its behavior, brands personality can also be perceived through both direct and indirect contact with the brand (Plummer, 1985). The three distinct properties of personality i.e. reflects individual differences, are consistent and enduring, and can change over time (Schiffman et al., 2005), could be observed in both brands and humans. For example, Chanel is personified as a lady who is ageless, sophisticated, classy and confident, through the use of spokesperson like
  3. 3. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       2   Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Tautou and over the decades became younger and louder as the consumers age range widens. Despite that, many academics are unable to effectively measure brand personality with the Big Five model (Caprara et al., 2001), leading us to question the extent of brands having a personality. Despite the similar conceptualization of brand and human personality traits (Epstein, 1977), various literatures have acknowledged that how the personalities are formed differs (Aaker, 1997). With that in consideration, Aaker (1997) came out with a brand personality framework that seeks to address the differences. The 5-dimension framework (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, ruggedness) was thought to be robust and was widely used till to date. The extent to which brands have personality could be determined by how well brands possess those traits from Aaker’s framework. However, Aaker’s framework had been criticized for not being a true measurement of the brand personality but instead a combination of facets of brand identity (Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003, p.144). This is because, Aaker (1997) defines brand personality as the “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand” (p.347), without isolating the cognitive aspects of the brand which has been excluded in the definition of human personality. The cognitive aspects refer to intellectual capabilities, gender and social class (Aaker, 1997), are reflected in the culture, physical, relationship, reflected consumer and consumer metallization facets of brand identity defined by Kapferer (1992, 1998). Kapferer (2008) in his latest book, referred the three distinct properties of human personality as mentioned above as brand identity (p.172), suggesting that human personality is in fact equivalent to brand identity. This further supports the point that Aaker is indeed measuring brand identity and not brand personality. Therefore, by excluding items like “competence”, “feminine”, and those related to social class (Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003) from the Aaker framework, one can perhaps see the extent of personality in brands and whether the value of using personality metaphor in brand marketing is still valid.
  4. 4. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       3   For example, Aaker (1997) described Coca-Cola to be “cool, all-American and real” (p.348) and Absolut Vodka as a “cool, hip, contemporary 25-year old” (p.347). By isolating the abovementioned items, Coco-Cola brand personality would perhaps just be cool and real, while Absolut Vodka cool and hip. Brands such as IBM, Guinness and Accenture that score highly on competence might now find them lacking a strong brand personality. With the reduction of dimension and items from the framework, this might suggest that individual differences, a key properties in personality, are now limited in brands. Hence, we may conclude that the extent of brands having a personality is perhaps good enough to set the tonality in marketing communications, as it no longer holds strong meanings for consumers. Instead, the personification of brands, a likely result of the anthropomorphism and metaphorical processing of the brand identity (Delbaere et al., 2011), with brand personality being one facet of it (Coleman et al., 2011), is the one that elicit strong emotions and allows consumers to make meaning out of. Why consumers may choose to use certain brands to project their personality Personification of brand is important because consumers evaluates products not just in terms of what it can do (functional) but also in terms of what they mean (symbolism) (Levy, 1959), thus brands that consumers can make meaning out of often have a strong call for action. Studies have shown that purchases are made based on emotions (Finucane et al., 2000) and that brands holding symbolic meanings are often used by consumers to express their multiple selves (Aaker, 1997), satisfying their social and psychological needs (Chernatony et al., 2011). Various studies have also suggested the validity of self-image congruence, that consumers prefer brands that enhance or maintain their self-image and psychological well- being (Hosany & Martin, 2012). In the recent research by Aguirre-Rodriguez et al. (2012), it was said that brands having strong ““brand-as-person” personality (versus brand-user image) can foster strong self- congruity experiences with targeted consumers” (p.1185), affirming the importance of personification of brands in consumer behavior.
  5. 5. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       4   By examining the theory of self-concept, “the totality of the individual’s thoughts and feelings in reference to themselves as an object” (Schiffman et al., 2005, p.119), one can better understand why consumers may choose to use those brands with strong personality to project their own personality. Self-concept, which was influenced by the ‘Big Five’, the situation and the consumer’s history (Schiffman et al., 2005) was identified by Nobel and Walker (1997) as a construct of 5 types of perception of self; i.e. actual self-image (how consumers see themselves), ideal self-image (how consumers would like to see themselves), social self-image (how consumers feel others see them), ideal social self-image (how consumers would like others to see them) and expected self-image (how consumers expect to see themselves at some specific future time) (Schiffman et al., 2005, p.120). In different situations, given the perception of others in the specific situation, consumers will select a different self-image (actual self, ideal social etc.) as their situational self-image to guide their attitudes and behavior (Schenk & Holman, 1980). The situational self-image “includes attitudes, perceptions, and feelings the individual wishes others to associate with him/her” (Sirgy, 1982, p.289). Motivated by self-esteem or self-consistency or both  (Epstein, 1980), consumers will then use brands projecting symbolic meanings congruent to their self- image in order to make expressions about their personalities, and avoid brands that are not. The stronger the brand personality, the easier it is for consumers to comprehend the brand’s symbolic meaning, and thus, increasing the likelihood of consumers selecting the brand to project its self-image. For example, when a person is attending an important office dinner, motivated by self- esteem, he may choose its ideal social self-image as his situational self-image because he wants to be perceived as someone mature, sophisticated and stylish to impress his boss who is sophisticated and affluent. His brand choice in this case would perhaps be a Hugo Boss suit that holds similar symbolic meanings. In a family dinner where, motivated by self-
  6. 6. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       5   consistency, he may choose a GAP jacket to express his ideal self as a laid-back chap instead as he is not under any pressure to impress. Another concept to consider is the influence of values on consumers’ choice of brands in different situations. Culture peer groups influence consumers’ values. These values that consumers hold forms the basis of their beliefs and drives behavior (Chernatony et al., 2011). Consumers often use brands in different situations that are inline with their values to achieve their desired consequence. For example, a person who values being seen as part of a team will use the brands that the team uses when he is out socializing with them. Shetht et al. (1991) suggested the 5 values i.e. functional, conditional, social, emotional and epistemic value, determines consumer brand choice in any given situation. The values that consumers are particularly concerned with differ in situations and brands that can best maximize the required values are often chosen. For example, when going for a college camp, a person wants to be perceived as sporty and trendy as he valued being seen as one of the cool kids in school. He will choose a brand of shoe that is able to best maximize the social and emotional value, e.g. Nike, which also holds symbolic meanings that is congruent to his ideal social self-image. In another situation, if he is just going to play a match with his pals, he may choose to use his Adidas shoes that can best maximize the functional value at also aids to enhance his ideal self-image as oppose to a pair of Pumas that may holds similar function but does not hold symbolic meaning congruent to his situational self-image. The above example illustrates that consumers not only use brands to communicate their values in different situation, it also facilitate the projection of their situational self-image, thus reflecting consumer’s personality. Therefore, the personification of brands as discussed in the earlier part of the essay is exceptionally important. Such brands are able to effectively communicate their brand values and allow consumers to better identify and relate to, and in turn, consumers use those brands to communicate their values in different situation and to enhance or maintain their self-image.
  7. 7. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       6   Conclusion Given that the psychologist definition of personality isolates cognitive elements of a person, the measurement and definition of brand personality must seek to do so too. The widely used Aaker brand personality framework failed to effectively measure brand personality, but it enables us to measure the brand identity as a whole. Through the examples, it can be noted that the anthropomorphism and metaphorical processing of the brand identity itself holds more meaning to consumers than brand personality. The value of using a personality metaphor in brand marketing is of great importance as consumers evaluate products not on what it do for them but what it means. Thus, brands with strong personality are able to communicate values and symbolic meanings to and for consumers effectively. Consumers project personality through the brands they use, their attitudes towards different brands and the meanings the brands have for them (Chernatony et al., 2011, p.131). The brand choice takes into account the congruency of the brand symbolic meaning with the situational self-image as well as the value that the brand holds that enables consumers to achieve their desired consequence in different situations.
  8. 8. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       7   Bibliography    Aaker, J.L., 1997. Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(3), pp.347-56.  Aguirre-Rodriguez, A., Bosnjak, M. & Sirgy, M.J., 2012. Moderators of the self- congruity effect on consumer decision-making: A meta-analysis. Journal of Business Research, 65, p.1179–1188.  Azoulay, A. & Kapferer, J.-N., 2003. Do brand personality scales really measure brand personality? Brand Management, 11(2), pp.142-55.  Bloch, J. et al., 1997. Dictionnaire Fondamental de la Psychologie. France, Paris: Larousse-Bordas.  Caprara, G.V., Barbarabelli, C. & Guido, G., 2001. Brand personality: How to make the metaphor fit? Journal of Economic Psychology, (22), pp.337-95.  Chernatony, L.D., Wallace, E. & McDonald, M., 2011. Creating powerful brands. 4th ed. UK: Butterworth-Heinemann. Available from: 23 September 2012.  Coleman, D., Chernatony, L.d. & Christodoulides, G., 2011. B2B service brand identity: Scale development and validation. Industrial Marketing Management, 40, pp.1063-71.  Delbaere, M., McQuarrie, E.F. & Phillips, B.J., 2011. Personification In Advertising. The Journal of Advertising, 40(1), pp.121-30.  Epstein, S., 1977. Traits are Alive and Well. Personality at the crossroads, pp.83-98.  Epstein, S., 1980. The Self-Concept: A Review and the Proposal of an Integrated Theory of Personality. Prentice Hall.  Finucane, M.L., Alhakami, A., Solvic, P. & Johnson, S.M., 2000. The Affect Heuristic in Judement of Risks and Benefits. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 13(1), pp.1-17.  Hosany, S. & Martin, D., 2012. Self-image congruence in consumer behavior. Journal of Business Research, 65, pp.685-91.  Kapferer, J.N., 2008. The New Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. 4th ed. London: Kogan Page.  Kapferer, J.-N., 1992. Strategic Brand Management. London: Kogan Page.  Kapferer, J.-N., 1998. Strategic Brand Management. 2nd ed. London.  Levy, S.J., 1959. Symbols for sale. Harvard Business Review, 37, pp.117-19. Levy SJ. Symbols for sale. Harv Bus Rev 1959;37:117–9 (July/Aug)..  McCrae, R.R. & Costa, P.T., 1990. Personality in Adulthood. New York: Guildford Press.  Nobel, C.H. & Walker, B.A., 1997. Exploring the relationships among liminal transitions, symbolic consumption and the extended self. Psychology and Marketing, 14(1), pp.29-47.  Plummer, J.T., 1985. Brand Personality: A Strategic Concept for Multinational Advertising. In Young & Rubicam. New York, 1985.
  9. 9. University  of  Birmingham  –  Advertising                                                                                                                          (Essay  4)   _____________________________________________________________________________________________       8    Schenk, C.T. & Holman, R.H., 1980. A Sociological Approach to Brand Choice: The Concept of Situational Self Image. Advances in Consumer Research, 7, pp.610-14.  Schiffman, L. et al., 2005. Consumer Behaviour. 3rd ed. Australia: Pearson Education Australia.  Sirgy, M.J., 1982. Self-Concept in Consumer Behavior: A Critical Review. Journal of Consumer Research, 9(3), pp.287-300.  Sheth, J.N., Newman, B.I. & Gross, B.L., 1991. Why we buy what we buy: A theory of consumption values. Journal of Business Research, 22(2), p.159–170.