- Written by Ronald van Haaften
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126.96.36.199 Brand personality
Brand personality is an important element in branding. Therefore brand personality is an element within many models, such as; the brand essence model of Arnold (figure 10), the brand identity model of Kapferer (figure 15), the brand asset structure of Kapferer (figure 20), the customer based brand equity model of Keller (figure 23), brand identity model of Aaker (figure 16) and the brand equity model of Aaker (figure 22). According to the American Marketing Association (AMA): “Brand personality is the psychological nature of a particular brand as intended by its sellers, though persons in the marketplace may see the brand otherwise (called brand image). These two perspectives compare to the personalities of individual humans: what we intend or desire, and what others see or believe.” (AMA, 12-02-2008: www.marketingpower.com).
Aaker defines the associated personality of a brand as a set of (1) human demographic characteristics like age, gender, social class and race, (2) human lifestyle characteristics like activities, interest, and opinion, (3) human personality traits such as extroversion, agreeableness, dependability, warmth, concern, and sentimentality. The brand becomes a living person and often attached to a metaphor. In this way, it visualizes the abstract intangible assets and characteristics in a more concrete tangible appearance. Hence, customers interact with brands as if they where human been. As it is counts for human personality, brand personality is distinctive and enduring (Aaker, 1996:141-142).
Aaker has developed a framework of brand personality dimensions on the bases of an extensive research across 37 brands (out of 60) with a high salience rating divided over 4 clusters with 114 personality traits (out of 309). The brand personality construct composes five personality factors so called “Big Five”: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. The big five includes 15 facets and 42 traits; they explain 92% of the variance between the brand personality’s (Aaker, 1997:347-352). See figure 17.
Figure 17. Brand personality (Aaker, 1997:354).
Brand personality develops the interaction between the brand, product, service, organization and their users. Nearly everything associated with the brand affects the perceived brand personality. For that, Aaker segregated two groups of brand personality drivers; product related and non-product related characteristics (Aaker, 1996:146);
Table 2. Brand personality drivers (Aaker, 1996:146)
Product related Characteristics
Non-product related Characteristics
User imagery, as defined as the associated set of human characteristics of the typical user, is a powerful brand personality driver. Where brand personality reflects to the brand, user imagery reflects to the typical user of the brand. Hence, user imagery should not necessarily be equal to the brand personality. The difference can be negligible, minor and significant. Nonetheless, both have a strategic value to the brand where user imagery enables the brand to focus on specific user reference groups (specific target markets) without jeopardizing the brand identity, heritage and brand personality (Aaker, 1996:170-173).
Although brand personality can be measured in several ways Keller argue that the most simple and direct way of assessing is by asking questions such as; if the brand were to come alive as a person (Keller, 2006:369);
- What would it be like?
- What would it do?
- Where would it live?
- What would it wear?
- Who would it talk to if it went to a party (and what would it talk about)?
The brand personality construct, as shown in figure 19, can contribute significantly by mapping out people’s perception and attitude towards the brand. Brand managers can build, develop and differentiate brand personality and user imagery by understanding the actual perception using the fifteen facets as strategic options (Aaker, 1996:150). The power of brand personality lies by its long-term sustainability in heritages by the interaction between the brand and its environment. Beyond that, it is almost impossible for competitors to copy-paste brand personality. Consequently, brand personality provides a platform to leverage brand identity, brand communication and even set the basic guidelines for marketing programs (Aaker, 1996:174).