“As a consuming population we have formed deep emotional bonds with our brands, to the extent that they now determine who we are and how we are perceived”. (Isaksen and Roper, 2008). Brands are everywhere we look. They are simply unavoidable. We wake up in the morning: brush our teeth with a brand of toothpaste, use our branded shampoo, put on several brands of clothes and then eat our branded toast. We simply cannot escape from them. So the questions I pose are: Why do we choose the brands we do? What do our brands say about us?
Brand ersonality “refers to the set of human characteristics associated with a brand” (Aaker, 1997). When I talk about brand image or brand personality I am basically asking if this brand were a person who would it be? Or else when we buy these brands what do they represent? Our modern culture has become obsessed with brands so what do they mean? If you buy a BMW people will assume you are rich, if you are seen walking around with a pair of Beats you are seen to be cool. Every product we buy or service we use says something about us whether we want it to or not.
Everything comes with an age or has a stigma attached to it. Even the music we listen to and the celebrities we admire have become brands in themselves. Take Kim Kardashian as an example she wasn’t heard of up until 2007 and now she is one of the most famous women on the planet with business ventures such as perfume, clothing stores, a T. V show and over 16 million followers on Twitter she has completely made a brand out of herself. Aaker (1997) suggests that “the personality traits associated with a brand, such as those associated with an individual, tend to be elatively enduring and distinct”.
Such as when you hear Mercedes you think luxury, Guinness is tradition and Chanel is elegance. In colleges all across the country every student not only has the burden of exams and QCA’s but also how they look and it’s the brands they buy that decide this. You will be questioned if you’re not wearing the latest ‘Hollister’ gear or carrying a shiny new ‘iPhone 5’. ‘Hollister’ originated in California in 1922 and is a brand associated with the beach and surfing yet in most schools and colleges it has been turned into popularity contest of who can have the ost or the best or the newest.
Brands are completely consuming us and it’s not Just spoilt teenagers anymore it is ranging from everyone from young kids of 5 years old right through adolescents up to adults. Primary school kids are coming home crying because they don’t have the latest brand of lunch box like their friends and middle aged men are going out buying ridiculously expensive phones and cars Just to stay feeling young because they believe that’s what those brands can offer them. They are willing to pay for Just a couple more years of feeling young and on trend.
This leads into Bhat and Reddy (1998) and their theory of how brands can be functional, symbolic or both. “Functional brands satisfy immediate and practical needs. Symbolic brands satisfy symbolic needs such as those for self-expression and prestige, and their practical usage Is only incidental” (Bhat and Reddy,1998). People have taken a brand that was originally meant as functional such as clothing, phones and cars and turned them into something so symbolic that they actually covet them. You keep certain clothes for “good wear”; spend hours cleaning your car and people Jump ore now to save a talling phone than a talling baby.
Bhat and Reddy ( 8) were able to prove this theory through different research groups and methods “For example, to owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, their motorcycle is not Just a mode of transportation”. (Bhat and Reddy, 1998). They have said “It is an experience, an attitude, a lifestyle, and a vehicle to express who one is” (Aaker,1996). Adolescents are influenced the easiest when it comes to symbolic positioning of brands. “As cognitive development progresses, adolescents are able to understand the complex ymbolism of brands and their role in defining the self”. Chaplin and Roedder-John, 2005) They want everything theyre friends have and are surrounded by images of celebrities showing off the latest fashions and technology. Several brands are even endorsed by the celebrities they look up to. Young girls are influenced so easily by the “beautiful people on television” so why wouldn’t they want to buy shampoo that will make their hair look like Cheryl Cole’s hair or make up that will make them look like Beyonc© or even clothes that will make them look like Rihanna.
Even teenage boys are seeing images such as David Beckham sprawled across a billboard half naked so why shouldn’t they buy ‘Armani’ boxers to look like him and why shouldn’t they want to drive the luxury car brands like soccer players? Companies continuously aim products at teenagers through different mediums such as television, music, and celebrities. Isaksen and Roper (2008) suggests “brands which are placed in popular teenage television programs are likely to benefit from a positive image and be popular among adolescent consumers”. Teenagers have become walking brands but t isn’t their fault it is what they are surrounded by.
In summary brands have completely taken over our lives. Everyone buys into them whether they mean to or not and we can all pretend to hate them yet they are such a big part of our everyday lives there is no escaping them. Companies have realised this and know exactly how to market their brands to the different markets so we have to accept them. We are influenced by them in ways we don’t even realise. They are part of our society and culture and the fashion of brands is only growing stronger so my final question is which brand are you?