A host of approaches and methods are used today for researching and analysing consumers’ behaviour. None of them, however, is more enigmatic and, at the same time, more scientifically rewarding than the personality research that has its roots in the field of psychology (Plummer, 2000, p. 79-80). This is, actually, where brand personality comes into the limelight.
The intimate relationship between customers, on one hand and products, services or companies, on the other hand becomes even closer when the latters’ brands are given a set of human characteristics (Foster, 2010). In other words, brand personality resides in the human characteristics or traits that could be attributed to a brand (Keller and Richey, 2006, p.74). In general terms, when referring to a product or a service brand personality relates to consumers and their mental image about the respective product or service brand. When it comes to a corporation, the brand personality reflects the core values and actions of all its employees be they white- or blue-collar.
In a world economy where competition grows fiercer, defining and applying the concept of brand personality becomes more and more important. According to Foster (2010), there are two key points from which the importance of brand personality can be judged: the consumer’s and the company’s. From the consumers’ point of view brand personality represents a modern way for expressing themselves by affirming their personalities and defining their standards of living by means of material possessions.
As far as companies are concerned, from their point of view brand personality serves at distinguishing their goods or services from those of their competitors, and at the same time as a means to inform customers about the advantages they can derive from buying their respective goods or services and/or the status connotations of using them. To gauge the personality content of a specific brand, two elements are of essence: (i) what a company wants its customers to think or feel about its brand, and (ii) what the respective customers actually think or feel about the company’s brand.
It is worth mentioning that brand personality also implies a significant emotional quotient. It is exactly this human characteristic that contributes to creating the customer’s brand attachment. Matching the brand’s personality with the customer’ self (actual or ideal – an issue still under debate) constitutes probably the main way towards achieving such an attachment (Malär, Krohmer, Hoyer and Nyffenner, 2007). In the long-run the attachment may evolve into a brand loyalty (Fournier, 1998).