BRAND PERSONALITY - THE RELATIONSHIP BASIS MODEL
Some people may never aspire to have the personality of a competent leader but would like to have a relationship with one, especially if they need a banker or a lawyer. A trustworthy, dependable, conservative personality might be boring but might nonetheless reflect characteristics valued in a financial advisor, a lawn service, or even a car – consider the Volvo brand personality. The concept of a relationship between a brand and a person (analogous to that between two people) provides a different perspective on how brand personality might work. To see how the relationship basis model works, consider the personality types of people with whom you have relationships and the nature of those relationships. Some of the types might be as follows:
Down-to-earth, family oriented, genuine, old-fashioned (Sincerity). This might describe brands like Hallmark, Kodak and even Coke. The relationship might be similar to one that exists with a well-liked and respected member of the family.
Spirited, young, up-to-date, outgoing (Excitement). In the soft drink category, Pepsi fits this mould more than Coke. Especially on a weekend evening, it might be enjoyable to have a friend who has these personality characteristics.
Accomplished, influential, competent (Competence). Perhaps Hewlett-Packard and the Wall Street Journal might fit this profile. Think of a relationship with a person whom you respect for their accomplishments, such as a teacher, minister or business leader; perhaps that is what a relationship between a business computer and its customer should be like.
Pretentious, wealthy, condescending (Sophistication). For some, this would be
or Lexus (with gold trim) as opposed to the Mazda Miata or the VW Golf. The relationship could be similar to one with a powerful boss or a rich relative.
Athletic and outdoorsy (Ruggedness). Nike (versus LA Gear), Marlboro (versus Virginia Slims) and Wells Fargo (versus Bank of America) are examples. When planning an outing, a friend with outdoorsy interests would be welcome. Two elements thus affect an individual's relationship with a brand. First, there is the relationship between the brand-as-person and the customer, which is analogous to the relationship between two people. Second, there is the brand personality--that is, the type of person the brand represents. The brand personality provides depth, feelings and liking to the relationship. Of course, a brand-customer relationship can also be based on a functional benefit, just as two people can have a strictly business relationship. THE BRAND AS A FRIEND
One important relationship for many brands is a friendship link characterized by trust, dependability, understanding and caring. A friend is there for you, treats you with respect, is comfortable, is someone you like and is an enjoyable person with whom to spend time. This type of relationship was a driver for much of the Saturn programme. General Foods, in fact, defines brand equity as a "liking" or a "friendship" relationship between the customer and the brand. WordPerfect, a software company that has always been a leader in customer service, would rate high on the friendship dimension. A friend relationship can involve very different brand personalities. Some friends are fun and irreverent. Others are serious and command respect. Others are reliable and unpretentious. Still others are just comfortable to be around. A focus on the friend relationship rather than the brand personality can allow more scope and flexibility in the implementation of the brand identity. Fred Posner of Ayer Worldwide has observed that people live in a world characterized by stress, alienation and clutter. Noting that people cope by developing escape mechanisms and meaningful friendships, Posner suggests that brands can provide these roles by being either an "aspirational" or a "trusted" associate. Escape can take the form of...
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