Branding Case Study: Purchasing a Rolex Sports Watch

The Scenario

AC is a 35 years-old young man living in Geneva, Switzerland. After graduating from the University of Geneva he was hired by one of the “Big Four” multinational accounting firms, where he worked mostly on assignments in London. In 2003 he joined SG, a Swiss financial consulting company, where he climbed the hierarchy ladder step by step up to the present position of Partner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The successful young top manager spends his precious free time skiing (in winter) and boating on Lake Léman (during summer). He also travels a lot, both for business and for pleasure. He is well-off financially.

He just bought himself the latest version of the Rolex sports watch. He thought he deserved it as a prize for his newly-acquired highest managing position in the company, and also that it was a good investment. This is because Rolex is a world widely renowned luxurious and precious brand. In addition, the new acquisition can increase his self-confidence and, most importantly, enhance his image and position in front of his business clients and colleagues

Matching the Rolex Case with Aaker’s Model of Brand Personality

The Rolex brand enjoys a well-deserved international fame. Its watches – most of them hand-made or hand-assembled – are synonyms with exactitude, robustness and reliability. It is also an outward expression of exclusiveness, of the sentiment of belonging to an exclusive club. That is why their selling prices are high.

The Rolex brand is an excellent example of matching a high-class branded product with the dimensions and facets that compose the Aaker’s model in order to see if this is or not a brand (with) personality.

In the first dimension – “Sincerity” – the best matching facet for the Rolex brand seems to be “Original”. This is because the purchase is made by a younger-than-average top manager and is a luxury product valued as a self-awarded prize for his professional promotion.

As far as the second dimension – “Excitement” – is concerned, the most appropriate facet would probably be “Cool” (this being most often the type of excitement produced when buying a Rolex watch). This is particularly valid for professionally successful young people (as AC in this case).

For the third dimension – “Competence” – the facet that matches best with the branded product purchased is definitely “Reliable”. This is because, as already stated before, the Rolex brand is the synonym for exactitude, robustness and reliability.

Given the products’ renowned qualities and their corresponding high prices,  “Upper-class” is the facet under the fourth dimension of Aaker’s model – “Sophistication” – which is the tightest match for the the Rolex purchase, whereas in the fifth dimension – “Ruggedness” - the respective facet is evidently “Masculine”.

The brief description and analysis of the above case study reveals the very strong personality of the Rolex brand. It comes out from the fact that the individual brand’s “borrowed” human characteristics easily match facets mirroring such characteristics in all the five dimensions of Aaker’s brand personality framework.

At the same time, it appears that the Rolex brand’s strong personality is fully consistent with AC’s own concept, namely: successful businessman who made it to the top of his company, workaholic but sporty, financially endowed, who rightly think he deserves a prize for his accomplishments.