What’s your level of emotional attachment to your favorite brand? Does associating yourself with a brand make you smarter? Sexier? Happier? More confident? Brand strategists have always believed brands can influence not only people’s behavior, but their perceptions of themselves, and research confirms that the intangible relationship a brand may have with its consumer is the most compelling. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research revealed that associating yourself with a particular brand that has a strong personality can reflect on how you perceive yourself.
In the study, entitled Got to Get You Into My Life: Do Brand Personalities Rub Off on Consumers?, MBA students were given a pen with an MIT logo to use to take notes for six weeks. Those students with the MIT logo pen felt like they were smarter and better leaders, even after they’d been told they did poorly on a math test.
One of the most fascinating parts of the study, according to the authors Ji Kyung Park and Deborah Roedder John, was that the people who were most affected by the study seemed to see brands as the path to self-improvement. These people were less sure about their own personal worth and hoped to signal their positive qualities to other people through brand-association. People who were not as affected by brand-name associations believed that they could change for the better themselves.
This study plays upon two types of theories about intelligence, as defined by psychologist Carol Dweck and others some years ago. “Entity theorists” treat intelligence as fixed and stable. They have a high desire to prove themselves to others; to be seen as smart and avoid looking unintelligent. “Incremental theorists” treat intelligence as malleable, fluid, and changeable. They see satisfaction coming from the process of learning and often see opportunities to get better. They do not focus on what the outcome will say about them, but what they can attain from taking part in the venture. Ironically, it was the entity theorists, or those who had certain fixed beliefs about their personality, who experienced the greatest reactions to the brands. Self-perception was improved with the help of outside means—a brand.
Land Rover continues to raise the brand bar and has recently expanded its digital marketing reach, in concert with its 70th anniversary by launching a new video series entitled, “Well Storied”. Made expressly for social media, these beautifully shot video shorts tell compelling, intimate stories of individual Land Rover owners’ personal journeys and how the brand and the product have become an integral part of their life, reflecting the brand’s pillars and how they feel about themselves.
As brand strategists and practitioners, we’ve always believed that brands have emotive and transformational power if developed correctly. We dig deep to uncover the compelling truths of a brand, which help to define that brand’s purpose, in our discovery and definition phase. Those truths or “pillars” are attributes that are omnipresent in every brand touchpoint. If conveyed in the right way, and manifested through the brand’s products and communication, the pillars can have immediate meaning, creating value to the consumer, which ultimately drives preference. It seems this could be coming from the brand’s ability to change our perception about ourselves.
This belief can create an even greater impact and results when thinking how a brand can, when properly deployed as an ecosystem, influence behavior and culture within an organization. Building a brand from the inside out, starting with these compelling truths and purpose to create a culture of brand, transform employees into brand ambassadors.
Tiffany. Apple. Harley Davidson. Land Rover. These brands have iconic and immediate perception attached to them. All have created a visual and verbal set of constructs; a recognizable mark or product or symbol—think about the Tiffany box / bag—that conveys their attributes emotionally as well as physically to their targets.
It’s sometimes hard to admit, but we’ve all imagined ourselves owning a particular vehicle, bag, or watch that appeals to our senses, but we can’t exactly explain why. According to research, this feeling could be the brand at work, redefining our own perceptions with what we believe to be true about that brand—and ourselves. If we’ve gotten your wheels turning, give us a call.
Blog image: photo of cover of “ICON: The Official Story of the Series Land Rover and Defender” © 2017 Jaguar Land Rover LTD