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Brand personality characteristics can be affiliated with human characteristics due to consumers anthropomorphizing products. Bower (1999) discussed how the transfer of humanized characteristics is much simpler due to an increase in those characteristics to inanimate objects. Consumers have a high tendency to attribute human characteristics to products in order to view them less as inanimate objects (Bower, 1999). These characteristics make the product seem more life-like and encourages interaction with the consumer (Bower, 1999). This has become more and more evident in recent times due to the rise of social media and the emphasis placed on creating a personality by the marketer (Aaker, 1997). Symbolism is a major factor in determining a brand’s personality due to the importance placed on image associations (Ogilvy, 1963). When a brand is seen as self-congruent with the consumer, it begins to serve as a symbolic function of self-expression (Govers & Mugge, 2004). The more symbolic meaning that a consumer sees within a brand the more congruent they become and when consumers become highly congruent they begin to get more attached to the brand (Gover & Mugge, 2004). Aaker (1996) discusses how brand evaluation is an important facet of brand personality as it allows for social signaling which increases the overall value of the brand.
Keller (1993) discusses the how the symbolism that a brand personality represents is an important self-expressive function for the consumer. The use of human characteristics when describing brand personalities has meant an increase in the significance placed upon image congruence (Sirgy, 1982). Image congruence is a crucial aspect of self-congruity and relies heavily on symbolic influence to create the brand personality (Sirgy, 1982). Brand Identity Brand identity is another important facet of the overall brand personality. Brand identity originates from the company itself. In order for a company to feel unique from its major competitors, it must have a strong brand identity (Marguiles, 1997). Brands must look to their core values when attempting to create their brand values (Melin, 1997). Brands with strong core values create a lasting impression on the consumer with brands who stay true to their original identity (Melin, 1997).
Aaker (1996) identified four dimensions for which brand is typically formed. The four dimensions are essential for developing a brand identity in-depth. The four dimensions are; brand as a product; brand as an organization; brand a person; brand as a symbol (Aaker, 1996). These four dimensions are key to ensuring a successful brand identity. They relate to various intangible aspects of the brand to creating a strong personality for the brand (Aaker, 1996). There has been a significant amount of emphasis placed on maintaining a high level of brand identity within the company rather than developing a marketing plan surrounding the consumers (Chernatony, 1999). Chernatony (1999) argues that a brand identity is more crucial to the company than the brand image. He discusses the importance of minimizing the incongruence between the consumer and the brand to create a powerful brand. The importance of brands focusing on the image has changed to an importance on identity (Kapferer, 1997).
The brand’s organizational culture plays a vital role in identifying the brand’s values. Corporate identity plays a vital role in determining the brand identity, integrating the values of an organization (Chernatony, 1999). Upshaw (1995) had a similar thought process indicating that a brand’s failure to focus on brand identity shows a more “shallow” reflection of the brand rather than their unique selling point. Upshaw (1995) agrees that investing in the brand would be more beneficial to the revenue in the long-term when discussing creating a stronger brand identity. Customer Brand Engagement Brand engagement is a challenging prospect for any product/service provider. Product-based brands rely on their products to engage the consumer while service-based industries have the brand itself and the consumer to create a connection (Kaltcheva et al., 2014).
Attracting attention to a brand can be difficult in the postmodern era due to the increase in social media channels available to every company (Solis, 2011). This increase the attention that companies need to pay for social media communications. Solis (2011) discusses how crucial incentives are for consumers to incite engagement with a company through social media and conventional communications. Customer engagement (CE) has been an important concept in marketing literature due to the roots being focused on the consumer’s behavior.
Customer engagement involves users, customers, and consumers (Hollebeek, 2011). Van Doorn et al. (2010) discussed the customer engagement as a behavioral demonstration towards a brand after the point of purchase. This results in key brand drivers such as eWOM, customer-to-customer interactions, writing reviews, etc. Brodie et al. (2013) discuss how thinking of CE should be broadened to accept that CE with company activities does not always transfer to CE with the brand. CE may involve customers gaining information through the use of forums about a brand to reduce the risk if/when they decide to purchase (Brodie et al., 2013). Hollebeek (2011) concurs with this assessment mentioning that customer engagement must involve a long process to create a psychological connection between the brand and the consumer.
Brand engagement has seen a quick transition to the emphasis placed upon social media when discussing brand engagement (Yang et al., 2016). ‘Social currency’ has been a crucial factor in the development of brand engagement within the social media spectrum as it relates to the extent consumers share brand-related information as part of their daily lives (Zinnbauer & Honer, 2011).
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