It’s been 20 years since Jennifer Aaker published her 1997 study ‘Dimensions of brand personality’ in the Journal of Marketing Research. Unlike a lot of theoretical marketing concepts born out of the 20th century, Aaker’s model has somewhat stood the test of time.
So what are the dimensions of brand personality? In a nutshell, it’s a cognitive framework for understanding how we, as consumers, relate to brands. It concludes that there are five core dimensions of personality: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness.
Here, we’ll explore the brand personality theory in context by applying the aforesaid dimensions to modern-day brands.
Propercorn have come a long way since launching their range of gourmet popcorn back in 2011. Even after six years of rapid expansion and growing success, they still haven’t forgotten about their humble beginnings – and this appears to be a central part of their brand personality.
The story behind how Propercorn came to be is one that places family values at the forefront of its brand identity. The owner, Cassandra, tells a nostalgic story of how she and her father used to experiment with weird and wonderful popcorn recipes at the family home.
Since their inception back in 2013, VICE have rapidly disrupted the news media paradigm. Well-renowned for their hyper-casual tone and edgy content, VICE has adopted a unique and distinct brand personality as far as independent journalism goes.
Primarily targeted at millennials, VICE embrace the postmodernist culture of today’s younger generation by breaking the boundaries of conventional journalism and traditional etiquette with risqué stories. This makes VICE appear to be a daring alternative to mainstream media.
COMPETENCE (SPACEX / ELON MUSK)
SpaceX are planning some pretty extraordinary things for humanity in the future. Promising to emerge as the pioneers of interplanetary space travel, SpaceX aren’t short of ambition – and they’re said to be well on their way to surpassing their state counterpart NASA.
Parallel to the SpaceX brand is the personality of its founder, Elon Musk. As a highly regarded thought leader in technology and innovation, Musk was ranked as the 21st on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People in 2016.
SOPHISTICATION (DOLCE & GABBANA)
Since 1985, Dolce & Gabbana have seemingly upheld a common theme throughout their advertising campaigns. Now considered to be one of the world’s biggest and best luxury brands, D&G have established a robust and distinct brand personality.
Over the years, D&G have personified their brand by selectively utilising celebrity endorsements from A-listers such as Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson and Kylie Minogue. This has given D&G leverage to create a personality that is analogous with these public figures.
OLD SPICE (RUGGEDNESS)
Old Spice is an amazing example of a brand that went from not having much of a personality at all, to having a vibrant and unmistakable persona. Old Spice has adopted a masculine, tough yet humorous theme throughout all of their recent advertising campaigns.
In the series of TV commercials entitled “This is What Your Man Could Smell Like”, public figures Isaiah Amir Mustafa and Terry Crews play the role of the Old Spice man and personified the rugged, no-nonsense characteristics of the brand.