Brand personality dimensions

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It is true that most organizations have a continuous pressure in finding new ways to compete in the market, due to the recent economic recession. For that reason, the literature review will focus on consumers` perceptions within brand personality, which I believe drives consumer behavior. The literature review is implemented by evaluating some key theories on brand personality and by using various arguments raised by authors. After that, the importance of brand personality will be analyzed, but also explain how it helps companies to differentiate and gain a competitive advantage. Next, it will clarify the methodology used to address the new issues raised from literature review. Moreover, to make the literature review more credible a questionnaire will be conducted to collect new information. The study aims to identify new linkages between factors that influence brand personality and areas that need to be further analyzed.

Literature Review

According to Moore, K., and Reid, S., (2008), branding have existed from the ancient world. Evidence show that branding had various forms; from historical periods beginning 2250 BC in Indus Valley, through to 300 BC in Greece. Two key roles played by brands, as witnessed during the periods of interest from ancient times. The first role is the conveyor of information regarding goods and services to consumers; such as origin and quality of products. The second role is to act as a conveyor of image or meaning, which shows the power, value and personality of product. The authors also mentioned that brands are multidimensional constructs which have become more complex through time.

Lee, J., and Rhee, Y., (2008), indicate that the term brand personality has been adopted from that of human personality (originally developed for psychiatric analysis of humans); the concept was developed and evolved in marketing domain according to marketing demands that require a further understanding of the consumer`s perception of brands. Specifically, Mulyanegara, R., et. al. (2009) notice that the connection between personality and purchase behavior was first introduced by Dolich 1996, who suggested that consumers prefer to buy products and brands that best reflect their personality. Lee, J., and Rhee, Y., (2008), continue by criticizing the validity of the concept and explain that so far, theoretical studies on brand personality have been developed to explain a facet of human personality and therefore the term is not well fitted into marketing circumstances. Therefore, the authors assume that traits cannot support an in depth understanding of human and cannot identify a person as a whole. Even if the brand personality has some limitations, the authors admit that brand personality plays a fundamental role in understanding the symbolic attributes of a brand.

Furthermore, a key definition was given for the terminology by Aaker, J., (1997), who states that brand personality is “a set of human characteristics associated with a brand”. Many researches tried to examine consumers` behavior based on this concept. After that, the author explains that consumers easily think about brands as if their celebrities and relate it to their own self, (based on Fournier 1994). For that reason, Aaker categorized brand personality in three forms that emerged due to the strategies used by advertisers to form a brand with personality traits. The three forms are: anthropomorphization, personification and the creation of user imagery. In other words, brand personality tends to serve symbolic or self expressive function (influenced by Keller 1993). Grohmann, B., (2009), agrees with the above statements but also influenced by Fournier 1998 and Belk 1988; who point out that consumers link human personality traits with brands because they relate to brands as would partners or friends; also they perceive brands as extensions of their selves or because marketers suggest that brands have certain characteristics. However, personality traits come to be associated with a brand in an indirect way through product-related attributes, product category associations, brand name, symbol or logo, advertising style, price, and distribution channel. (Lehmann, B., and Singh 1993)

Bosnjak, M., et al. (2007), Research on the symbolic use of commercial brands has shown that individuals prefer those brands matching their own personality. Equally important, by purchasing and utilizing commercial brands, individuals are inclined to maintain, enhance, or seek social approval of certain aspects of their self-concept.

In contrast, Prior, J., (2008) argues by saying that, many marketers should not focus on the intangible personality because the tangible product is the true differentiator. Also believes that marketers must think about the added value, not just the superficial design but as a complete equation of product, service and holistic experience. Nandan, S., (2005), who was greatly influenced by Halliday (1996) and Biel (1993), do not agree with Prior, J., by saying that from a customer`s perspective a brand provides a visible representation of difference between products with unique features. Gardner and Levy,22 in their classic article, proposed that “brands may have an overall character or personality that may be more important to the consumer than the mere technical facts about the product.” In addition, Thomas, J., and Sekar, P., (2008), agree and indicate that a brand is being personified and being given a personality for better gains to the organization and certainly added value to the customer.

Markin, Rom., (1969), illustrates that there is a correlation between brand personality and brand image. The author explains that both personality and image are influenced by external forces; such as economic status, psychology, sociology and anthropology which form consumer`s lifestyle. After that, he clarifies that sometimes consumers like a product whose image matches his/her own self-image. Also, the author states that images can be defined as “the total impressions of options about things”; which in some cases might be unknown to the consumers. Nandan, S., (2005), agrees that there is a correlation between brand image and brand personality and explains that, “brand image refers to consumer perceptions and includes a set of beliefs that consumers have about a brand. The author continues by saying that both image and personality, aim to communicate between the company and its customers; also state that a strong link between brand personality and image can lead to enhanced brand loyalty. It is true that, consumers are vital for the process of developing a brand personality as they use their own interpretations and respond differently to brands. Kim, C., (2001), illustrates that a brand is perceived as attractive when it helps a person to express himself through purchasing a product. Furthermore, Polonsky, M., and Coulter, R., (2009), identify that consumers use brands to show something about their personality.

In Sung, Y., and Tinkham, S., (2005) journal who were influenced by (Roth 1995), identified that culture is an environmental characteristic that influences consumer behavior and many aspects of cultures affect the needs of consumers to satisfy through purchasing and using a product. For example, a UK brand might be perceived differently by French consumers. Thus, examining brand personality dimensions cross-culturally can give insights into cultural differences and help organizations communicate more effectively with consumers. Similarly, Forscht, T., et al. (2008), confirm that a same brand is perceived differently in different cultures in spite of its same positioning. The authors give a solution to this issue by saying that firms have to emphasize the brand personality characteristics that enable consumers to perceive the product in similar way.

Equally important, is that Grohmann, B., (2009) addresses that, masculinity and femininity measurement and contribution to brand personality theories and practices, have not been examined. It is true, that consumers shape masculine and feminine brand personality perceptions. In many cases, by hearing the name of brand, people can identify if a product is designated for a man or a woman. For example, a cigarette brand called Virginia ‘Slim' refers to women consumers. In addition, consumers draw on masculine and feminine personality traits associated with a brand to enhance their own degree of masculinity or femininity. Therefore, the author concludes that gender dimensions of personality appear to be especially relevant to brands that have symbolic value for consumers attempting to reinforce their own masculinity and femininity. Even though, customers have a key role in the process of developing a brand personality, consumer preferences alone are not the only factor concerned. Factors such as price and in-store promotion can moderate purchase decision despite a consumer`s preference for a particular brand. This statement, illustrates for ones more that brand personality is a multidimensional and questionable concept, leading researchers to argue.

Moreover, Mulyanegara, R., et. al. (2009), identified that consumers who exhibit a Conscientious personality demonstrate preferences towards ‘Trusted' brands. In contrast, those who are Extrovert in nature are motivated by ‘Sociable' brands. Findings related to gender reveal that male and female consumers differ in how they express their personality when purchasing a product. Males who are dominant on the Neuroticism dimension prefer ‘Trusted' brand, whereas ‘Trusted' brand is preferred by females who are dominant on the Conscientiousness dimension. Further, the study of Swaminathan, V., et al. (2009) identified a differential preference for sincere dimension vs exciting. Specifically, under conditions of high avoidance and high anxiety, individuals exhibit a preference for exciting brand, however, under conditions of low avoidance and high anxiety, individuals tend to prefer sincere brands.

Maehle, N., et al. (2009) state that both customer-base sources such as own experience, word to mouth and value system are more important for forming brand personality; specifically sincerity and competence dimensions. Aiken, D., and Campbell, R., (2009) identified another influence of brand personality which is the geographic awareness and memory are important factors in drawing out images in the minds of consumers. A similar approach was done by Wang, X., and Yang, Z., (2008), who assert the relationship between brand personality, country of origin image and purchase intention. Specifically, they state that a positive country of origin image can enhance brand personality. For instance, if a person buys clothes, which are made in Italy, the person would be very satisfy and overwhelmed; because the consumer has the perception that the clothes are of a high quality and latest fashion design.

Minjung, S., and Sung, Y., (2008) presented information on brand personalities that attract customers (successful brand personalities) and stated that organizations can identify the characteristics customers look for in a product, which in turn can be used to enhance brand image. Also, influenced by Andteassen and Lindestad (1998), Ruter and Wetzels (2000), Bhattacharya and Sen, (2003), favorable brand personality can benefit an organization as customers will become loyal, it will create a positive perception of quality and enhance consumer attachment to the company and maintaining current sales.

Bosnjak, Michael

Bochmann, Valerie

Hufschmidt, Tanja


Aaker (1997) describe the framework of brand personality of a brand in five core dimensions (Sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness)

In terms of cross-cultural robustness, personality research has shown that the Big Five factor structure is able to describe personality structure well across a wide variety of cultures.

Aaker revealed that these five brand personality dimensions (sometimes called the “Big Five”) appear to best explain the way American consumers perceive brands across symbolic and utilitarian product and service categories

The findings of the study show that some dimensions of The Big Five constructs are significantly related to preferences on particular dimensions of brand personality.

One of the most widely used approaches to the study of personality traits is The Big Five model.

and found that only five factors were proven to be replicable across different contexts

John Thomas and P C Sekar


Explanation of five dimensions

The five dimensions of the scale are Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness.

The dimension Sincerity indicates that the brand is used by family-oriented people, by people living in villages, and is used for practical purposes. The dimension also indicates that the brand is fair and just, delivers whatever it promises, and that promises are based on facts.

Sophistication and Ruggedness, are not found in human personality scales. Nevertheless, these two dimensions are highly relevant to a number of brands, such as Mercedes and Channel V (Sophistication) and Levis and Marlboro (Ruggedness) (Aaker, 1997).

The concept is an effective marketing tool for the identification of brands accordingto their symbolic messages, specifically within the same product category where brands can share similar functional attributes.

Model-Brand personality helps to :

In pursuing the aim of exploring and measuring the meaning of commercial brands by examining how brand personality attributes are structured

Researchers in marketing have explored the impact of consumer personality on perception, preferences and behavior

Limitation of Aakers model is

In other words, Aaker's concept focuses on those (positive) aspects of brand personality associations which are of most interest to marketers, disregarding negative brand-related associations held by consumers.

Kapferer (2003) criticized Aaker's (1997) brand personality concept definition as being too wide and loose. But also several items seem to be not strictly rooted in contemporary definitions of the term ‘personality'.

Azoulay, A., & Kapferer, J.-N. (2003). Do brand personality scales really measure brand personality? Brand Management, 11 (2), 143-155.

Eun-Jung Lee1

Eun-Young Rhee

it is important to maintain customers ' perspective in the identification of brand personality.

Consumers ' perception can be a key to identifying ‘ brand personality as it is ' . Such a principle is also consistent with the market-oriented perspective that puts customers in the center.

Difference between brand and human personality

Perceptions of human personality traits are inferred on the basis of an individual's bebavior, physical characteristics, attitudes and beliefs, and demographic characteristics (Park 1986)

In contrast, perceptions of brand personality traits can be formed and influenced by any direct or indirect contact tbat tbe consumer has witb the brand (Plummer 1985)

Nandan, S., (2005), clarify that brand personality originates from the company, which is responsible for creating a differentiated product with unique features, and comments that it is a way organizations seek to identify themselves.

Kapferer state that brand personality is influenced both internally which is the brand identity and externally which are the consumers.

From the literature review I have developed the following conceptual framework. I will therefore base my research around this framework.

Research Aims:

  1. To examine theories on Performance Management
  2. To give some definitions for the key terminology Performance Management
  3. To identify the key indicators of performance
  4. To investigate the relationship between performance and motivation
  5. To identify some practices of performance management


To be able and review current literature, secondary data will be used. This will help me to examine previous research. Also, it will clarify what performance management really is and how it may affect organizations.

Furthermore, I intent to use qualitative research to gather subjective data on my research topic. It is true that quantitative research would not be appropriate to this situation due to the small sample size of 30 people. In addition to that, I will use a questionnaire, as it is a cost effective data gathering approach. Equally important, is that the questionnaire will be based on the literature review.

Another important issue is that I will try to minimize bias when developing the questions, so that the questionnaire remains valid. Moreover, the questions will be both open-ended and close-ended. This will give me descriptive answers for many problems, as the respondent will answer in more detail.

Thereafter, the questionnaire will be pilot tested, to check the wording. It will be given to 10 random employees within the University of Wolverhampton.

Finally, questionnaires will be handed out to the employees of a small-medium size business. After that, the data will be collected and analyzed by using by using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software such as SPSS.

Timetable/ Resources:

The research will be carried out over a 6/7 month period:



Resources Required

Begin literature search and select sample

1 month

01/04/09- 28/04/09

Þ Books, Journals, Internet.

Review literature on research methods especially survey strategies and quantitative data collection and analysis

0.5 months

29/05/09- 11/06/09

Þ Books, Internet.

Complete Literature Review

0.5 months

12/06/09- 25/06/09

Þ Books, Journals, Internet.

Þ Computer

Design interview questions (draft)

0.5 months

26/06/09- 09/07/09

Þ Computer

Finalise interview questions

0.25 months

10/07/09- 16/07/09

Þ Computer

Conduct focus group and pilot of questionnaire

0.25 months

17/07/09- 23/07/09

Þ Respondents

Þ Car/transport

Þ Space for respondents to answer the questionnaire

Analyse outcome of pilot interview

0.5 months

24/07/09- 06/08/09

Þ Data analysis software

Administering the questionnaires

1 month

07/08/09- 04/09/09

Þ Questionnaires

Þ Respondents

Þ Car/transport

Þ Space

Þ Space for the respondents to answer the questionnaire

Data analysis of responses

1 month

05/09/09- 01/10/09

Þ Computer

Þ Data Analysis Software

Þ Answered Questionnaires

Draw conclusions and finalize

0.5 months

02/10/09- 15/10/09

Þ Computer

It is true that all information used for my research where free due to the fact that I am a student at University of Wolverhampton. Computers at the University enable me to have access to a range of different sources like journals, books and some software like SPSS.

My overall cost, will only include car transport and A4 papers used for the questionnaire.