In 2015, Apple was ranked the most valuable brand in the world with a $145.3 billion valuation. Ranked third, Google’s brand was assessed at $65.6 billion, which is even greater than their revenue in the same year. Even though a brand is an intangible asset, it’s arguably the most valuable a company owns. One factor that contributes to its equity is brand personality, which is a set of human characteristics that consumers attribute to a brand based on any part of the company they perceive.
In addition to increasing brand value, a well-developed brand personality helps recognize and relate to a company’s target market across cultural boundaries. It also aids in identifying companies with similar audiences to form marketing partnerships. Moreover, brand personality increases the number of things consumers associate with a company and the frequency they’re reminded of it in their day-to-day lives. All things considered, a strong personality distinguishes a brand from its competitors.
To better understand brand personality, social psychologist Jennifer Aaker outlined five dimensions that should be seen as spectrums – excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication. Every marketable entity is measurable on each spectrum. Companies on the high ends embody those dimensions while those on the low ends have different, not inferior, personalities. Brands closer to the middle have less identity and effectiveness. Now let’s look more closely at each of the five dimensions.
Firstly, the dimension of excitement is daring, spirited, imaginative, and up-to-date. On the high end, Red Bull is a prime example. From the head-butting bulls on their logo to their slogan’s promise to “give you wings”, they sell exhilaration. Coca-Cola, on the contrary, is on the low end of the spectrum because it’s more traditional, timeless, and classic. It appeals to a tamer audience than its highly exciting counterparts. As the fourth most valuable brand in the world, Coca-Cola shows that being low on a scale is not a bad thing.
Next, companies high in sincerity are projected as down-to earth, honest, wholesome, and cheerful. They appeal mainly to family-oriented and small-town markets. One example is the Disney channel. It shows friendly, kid-appropriate programs like Austin and Ally. On the other end of the sincerity spectrum, companies embody an edgier, uninhibited persona like MTV. They appeal to a much more mature audience than their highly sincere counterparts with unwholesome shows like Jersey Shore.
The third dimension of brand personality, ruggedness, analyzes how outdoorsy or tough a brand is perceived to be. Companies high on this spectrum are masculine, western, and marketed primarily toward men. On the opposite end, brands are soft, feminine, and marketed primarily toward women. Old Spice is high on this spectrum with ads showing exaggerated, muscular men promising to make customers manlier while dove shows natural, curvy women promising to make customers feel beautiful.
Another measure of brand personality is competence. Entities high on this scale project reliability, intelligence, and success while companies lower might promote compassion, open-mindedness, or equality. The right wing is high on the spectrum because it promises voters strength and stability by legislating a powerful military, traditional ideals, and fiscal freedom. The left wing, on the other hand, supports public welfare programs, progressive ideals, and a regulated economy to create peace and fairness.
Lastly, sophistication is the quality of being upper class and charming. Companies on the high end sell to those who believe high prices equal high quality and status. To demonstrate, Gucci’s website sells one pair of men’s jeans, and it is listed at $990.00. Conversely, the Levi’s website offers men hundreds of jean options for as low as $16.90. They, as well as other brands low in sophistication, have relatively low prices to appeal to the working-class. In place of glamour and status, they sell practicality.
In conclusion, Jennifer Aaker’s five dimensions – excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication – provide a framework for better understanding brand personality. If well-defined, a brand personality creates a connection to consumers that differentiates their products or services and increases memorability. Using this knowledge, an owner or marketing team can develop and implement a strategic marketing direction to create a valuable brand and ultimately a successful business.