Brands play a fundamental role in the marketing strategy of a company. They are not just a vital marketing element of the manufacturer but also they provide a very rich source of consumers” information (Grace and O’Cass, 2005). Well constructed brands that create significant images in the minds of consumers therefore, are those brands that are really powerful and with a convincing reputation, leading to an acceptable consequence of consumer’s buying behavior (McEnally 1999).
Lustic & Koester (2010) explain that, the marketing and establishments of brands in various countries is fast becoming a challenging talk among marketers and businesses put to the fact that they are oblige to consider some of the cultural differences that are likely to pose a hindrance or likewise influence the way their brands will be perceived by individuals. This is to mean, global brands do not necessarily need to be perceived the same way across different cultures taking into consideration that culture very well shapes an individual’s and society’s social practices, beliefs and norms (Lustic & Koester, 2010) . In this light, individuals in different cultures may have different usage patterns for products, different needs and different wants. As such, the most important primary steps to take into consideration before implementation any marketing program of any sort is to first of all identify what the brand stands for in the minds of the consumers. This therefore helps the marketers to create some kind of communication measures and activities geared towards the taste and desires of the targeted consumers.
A number of researches therefore have laid emphases on consumer with the motive to unveil the knowledge structures of the brand; meaning for example the brand already stored in the memory of the consumer. This thus gave birth to what is known as the brand personality concept. Aaker, (1997, p. 347) defines brand personality as ”a set of human characteristics associated with the brand’. This concept has been applied in order to facilitate the understanding of the symbolic and emotional connotation that consumers attach to brands, and subsequently facilitate marketers to create a proper and constructive marketing strategy.
Brand personality cites to the human attributes associated with brand. Since brands are envisaged by consumers as human beings, brand personality dimensions can be related as an add-on of the dimensions of human personality to the world of brands.
This review therefore, seeks to compare how branding is perceived by people in different personalities and cultures.
1.2. Problem Discussion
The Theoretical framework of Aaker’s (1997) regarding brand personality dimensions have posed a significant stepping stone so as to help marketing researchers better examine an illustrative meaning of a brand. Aaker (1997) brainstormed brand personality by evaluating consumer perception about America’s commercial brands. In effect, she developed 42 traits and 5 brand personality dimensions which include, Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness.
Nonetheless, some researchers have greatly questioned the validity and hypothesis of Aaker’s framework. For example, Caprara et al. (2001) did examine how human
attributes are able to serve as comparisons to describe attributes of brands. This is because, the same word may have different connotations in different cultures (waldie, 1981) and thus significantly applies and demonstrates across different countries and different cultures (craig & Douglas, 2000)
In an attempt to use Aaker’s 5 human personality dimension (Big Five) to identify other brands, it significantly posed different meanings. This therefore made Austin et al. (2003) to argue that, the brand personality dimension is most likely to be richly utilized when using a summation data across multiple product categories, whereby the dimensions may have remarkable restraints when examining the summation data within a specific product category.
Despite the mixed views on the Aaker’s brand personality dimensions and framework, a number of empirical studies have made use of this framework in order to test the consumers’ behavior and their predictive roles in brand personality.
More so, some researchers are making attempts in the elaboration new dimensions, and Aaker’s (1997) already existing factors in different cultures and consumers. It is widely discussed whether Aakers’ work actually is a valid measure of brand personality and whether or not the dimensions provided actually correspond with the identified dimensions provided. Some examples vital in personality build-up which have been approved but not incorporated in Aaker’s model includes is to gender, age or class (Emile and Lee, 2012).
The purpose of this review seeks to compare how Jennifer Aaker’s personality dimension is perceived in different personalities in different cultures
1.4. Research Question
What are the similarities and differences in Aaker’s (1997) Brand Personality Dimension as compared to other Cultures?
This chapter thus throws light on the principles and uses of source criticism in order to write a reliable paper. In this study, the fundamental method used is literature review. In search for the differences and/or similarities that exists between Aaker’s (1997) Brand Personality Dimension in other culture, search engines such as, One Search and Google Scholar has been mostly used in order to facilitate the finding of scientific articles and relevant material. The author also made use of some useful quotes found in some scientific articles, the main literature review and read further so as to have a greater knowledge of the said theme. The author so far evaluated if the articles found were scientific or not by using the criteria’s stated above as well as using Ulrich web to see if the journals were peer-reviewed.
2.1. Source criticism
When a literature review is being conducted, the researchers recognize existing research in the areas where further research can be needed (Rowley & Slack, 2004). The most suitable way to find and use information that is reliable according to Denney & Tewksbury (2013) is through academic journal articles which are safe and available and also considered to be strong. Coniam (2012) sited that, ‘Peer review is one of the criteria that articles need in order to be taken into consideration when referring to articles as scientific or academic. Literature review also helps to strengthen already existing statements by contributing to contrasting findings (Boote & Beile, 2005). The author of this study has therefore focused on the following topics and questions geared towards evaluating an article
‘ Authority: Who is behind the source? Can you find information about the author and his/her qualifications? Is the source attributed to an institution that you trust?
‘ Objectivity: What is the purpose of the article? Does the source provide facts or opinions? Does the document come from a false website?
‘ Authenticity: What information is presented? Are the facts correct? If the source refers to other sources for factual information ‘ go to the primary source to check the facts. Are there references to other sources?
‘ Relevance: When was it written? Has the website been recently updated?
(Linnaeus University, 2013).
The Author commenced by exploring the subject chosen for the literature review, which is Brand Personality across cultures. Articles on this subject were further collected by using the search engines such as Google search and ‘One Search’. From these articles the authors was able get an overview what cultural branding and brand personality was all about. The articles were found by the search terms ‘Brand personality and culture, ‘relationship between brand personality and brand culture’, ‘validating Aaker’s (1997) brand personality dimensions’, ‘Aaker’s Brand Personality Dimensions’, ‘Brand Personality Dimension’, ‘Brand Culture’, ‘Brand Personality in various cultures’ and a mix of these. A lot of articles were also found by reviewing the reference lists of saved articles. By so doing, the authors could find pioneers within the area of research and see the development of the research. Books and Internet sources were also used to get more knowledge on the subject and a broader perspective. After a lot of articles were gathered and having met some sort of saturation, the authors went through the articles more thoroughly and deeper to collect the ones that were relevant to the subject.
When selecting the articles that were to be used the author also looked at the scientific perspective of the articles. To decide if they were scientific the structure of them were checked, if the journal they were published or had peer reviewed on Ulrich web, if found the journal trustworthy and how many times they had been cited by other authors.
After all the above necessary checks were done, the author moved right away to start writing the literature review proper. The Author also reviewed 4 different researches about the validity of Aaker’s (1997 )brand personality dimensions between other cultures When all these was done and data was evaluated and understood, the author could then write the theoretical framework, followed by the analysis of what was found and then make a conclusion if there exists differences and similarities in Aaker’s model and in other cultures.
3. Theoretical Framework
In this chapter, the Author has reviewed 4 different studies carried out in 5 different countries and cultures. Each time personality and culture are being mentioned, the author always imagines that the world would be a boring place if suddenly everyone looked very much the same, did and had similar things with absolutely the same values and aim in life.. Consumers’ personality is defined by their Cultural values in Hofstede’s model (1988 ; 2004) where he distinguishes culture according to five dimensions: Power distance, individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-/short-term orientation. In this review, the author made use of the Hofstede’s (1984) cultural dimensions between countries in this study include, Spain, Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States of America (USA). The authencity whether or not Aaker’s (1997) brand personality dimensions have also been attained with emphasis made on masculinity, femininity and power distinction.
3.1. Aaker’s Brand Personality Dimensions
The research carried out by Aaker (1997) as far as brands are involved deals with a swap of brands popularly used in the measurement of human personality (Ferrandi et al., 2002)
The brand personality scale functionally met various qualities such as content validity , test and retest reliability and internal reliability. More so, nomological and construct validities were also established. Even though Aaker’s (1997) validity and generalization of her framework has been questioned by most researchers time-in-time-out, it still however, widely acceptable worldwide and remains the main subject in numerous researched being carried out even up to this age and time. (Austin et al. 2003 and Caprara et al. 2001)
The brand personality research has been analyzed and reviewed such that, the pertinentity of brand personality across product categories and across cultures could be properly examined. It is in this light that, both company’s efforts and customers’ perception are said to play a big role in molding a brand’s personality (Batra et al.,1996; Plummer, 2000; Okazaki, 2006). Brand personality also gives room for marketing strategists to achieve differentiation (Ian & Kong 2000)
Aaker’s (1997) factor analyses resulted in 15 facets and 5 main personality dimensions. These five dimensions includes: Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness. These dimensions indicates that, the brand is used by family-oriented people, used by those who live in villages, is fair and just, delivers up to its promises, promises are based solely on facts, is a pioneer , provides physical and mental satisfaction, reveals that the brand’s color and other aspects are bright, provides help like a friend and is used for sentimental reasons (Eisend et al., 2013 and Aaker, 1997). In this chapter therefore, the differences and or similarities that there-in in the consumers’ perceptions of brand personality have been looked upon by previous studies (Aaker, et al., 2001; Supphellen & Gr??nhaug, 2003; Sung & Tinkham, 2005; Chu & Sung, 2011) and have been considered to have existed thanks to cultural differences
3.2. Brand Personality Dimensions of other Cultures
3.2.1. Brand Personality Dimension USA, Japan & Spain (2001)
In 2001, Aaker carried out another research in order to determine how figurative and suggestive attributes incorporate with commercial banks are organized and how this organizational structure deviates in three different countries. Namely, United States of America, Spain and Japan. In this study, a group of brand personality dimensions which appeared to share the same values in USA and Japan (ex. excitement) were identified. Also, the dimensions, peacefulness and ruggedness that have more of a cultural meaning were also identified. There primary structures in their findings that dealt with differences and similarities (J. L. Aaker et al., 2001) in trying to build a computation for accessing purposes, Aaker (2001) defines brand personality as a whole rather than a part. That is, ‘the set of human characteristics associated to a brand’ (Azoulay et al., 2003)
Aaker (1997) made reference to the limitation of cultural globalization in her seminar work on brand personality. This limitation was mentioned because of the studies she carried out on American consumer whereby the stability of her brand product done across product categories and across different cultures were questioned by her very own self. In 2001 therefore Aaker experimented her brand personality dimension in Spain’s and Japan’s cultural contexts. In this light, McCracken (1986) suggested that brand express an extended meaning and are more of consumptions symbols. This simply means that, brands mirrors points of views, values and behavioral figure of individuals.
With all these being found, Aaker assumed that, there probably may be some differences in her brand personality dimension across cultures and so went further to investigate. To this effect Aaker (2001) scrutinized the brand personality dimensions in both countries. Even though all the personality dimensions that were scrutinized did not match the personality dimensions recognized in the American context, at least four brand personality dimensions Competence, Excitement, Sophistication and Sincerity as a result, were typical between the USA and Japan. But on the other hand, ruggedness was replaced with peacefulness and thus asserted as the brand personality dimensions definite to the Japan culture. In general, Excitement, sincerity and sophistication are the only dimensions shared by both Spain and the USA. The last two dimensions pointed out for Spain were Peacefulness (which is identical to Japan) and Passion proportionately.
In all, five component solutions which includes, excitement, competence, peacefulness, sincerity, sophistication was found in Japan with discriminated and convergent validity regarding the culture common dimensions including excitement, sincerity, sophistication and competence. In Spain, five dimensions; excitement, sincerity, sophistication, peacefulness and passion were also found to represent the Spanish brand personality with a mixture of competence associations in the sophistication dimension. When it came to cultural dimensions, peacefulness represented Japan, ruggedness for USA and passion for Spain
3.2.2. Russian brand personality Dimension (2003)
Supphellen & Gr??nhaug, (2003) were the first to carry out a research on the performances and structure Aaker’s (1997) brand personality dimension in Russia. Phau & Lau (2000) stipulated that, in order to better understand the cultural brand personality in a country, it is important to link its cultural dimensions to that identified by Hofstede.
It should be noted that, the transitions in Russia brings about a large amount of social inequality (Wallechinsky 1997) and thereby making the poor poorer and a small upper-class unbelievably wealthy.
Meaning, there also exist great power distance among the people in Russia (Hofstede 1984), and thereby causing consumers to dine just with those of the same class or aspired classes. In the Russian brand personality dimensions;
a) Successful and contemporary which is a blend of all except one of Aaker’s dimensions
b) Excitement dimension includes traits such as, Independent, contemporary and up to date.
c) Successful, , secure, reliable, leader and corporate belong to the Competence dimension in the Aaker dimension.
d) upper-class comes from the Sophistication dimension,
e) Western and outdoorsy comes from the Ruggedness dimension of the Aaker scale.
Russia’s personality dimension also involves five factors of brand personality which includes; sincerity, excitement, sophistication, ruggedness, & successful and contemporary . Successful and contemporary thus reflects a clich?? of Russia’s new economic upper class. There also similarities and differences Russian brand personality and western brand personality. These western brands also have a great influence on brand behaviors amongst consumers in Russia and heavily slackened by the ethnocentrism of consumers. These ethnocentric consumers are therefore influenced by foreign brand personalities. And thereby causing brand personality to have an influence on the evaluation of brands. In summary, there exist some significantly important differences in the ways in which brands are perceived in Russia as compared to how they are perceived in the West.
3.2.3. Brand Personality Structures in the United States & Korea (2005)
McCracken, (1986), noted that, a total awareness into the distinctive use of Korean culture can advance a great understanding of brand personality structure in Korea. ‘East Asian cultures are themselves distinct, and it is misleading to lump them together as if they were culturally equivalent (sung & Tinkham 2005. Pp 335)’ According to Hofstede (1991) the family is fundamental to the life of Korean culture and has been historically, a key component in encouraging collectivism as a cultural value Korea
‘By comparing brand personality structures across cultures, values and needs of these cultures may be identified that are relevant to the way brands are perceived. Cultures that are quite different in their values and needs (e.g., Western vs. East Asian cultures) are more likely to exhibit culture-specific differences in brand personality'( Sung & Tinkham, 2005 Pp. 335)
In the study of Sung & Tinkhan (2005), they found that, passive likeableness factor found in Korea did not merge together as separate dimensions as that found in the USA whereby lots of there exits the makers of Likeableness (such as, sentimental, funny and warm), Traditionalism (such as, family- oriented and small-town oriented)
traits in the Passive Likeableness factor in Korea did not come together as a separate dimension in the United States, where most of them were markers of Likeableness (e.g., funny, warm, and sentimental), Traditionalism (e.g., small-town and family-oriented), or fall short to provide a strong and outstanding pile on any single factor, such as, easy in the model found in U.S. in Korea, Masculinity and femininity were most leading characteristics in Korean structures than in the U.S. structures and therefore play a significant role in every culture. To this effect, Masculine piles on Ruggedness and feminine piles on Sophistication in the Korean factor structure . while in the United States, masculinity and femininity had their highest piles on Androgyny, which appears to be the weakest element of that structural factor (Sung & Tinkham, 2005).
In effect, Six factors that are similar across the two cultures as far as the dimensional differences are concerned were recognized which led to a splendid design of convergent and discriminated validity in a two-way cross-validation analysis of discriminated and convergent validity. Nonetheless, both cultures produced two specific cultural factors which are very distinct from each other and don’t intersect with any of the six standard factors (Sung & Tinkham, 2005)
3.2.4. Chinese brand personality dimension (2011)
In as much as a considerable high amount of researches have been conducted to better conceptualize brand personality, there has so far been little or no research carried in order to examine china’s brand personality dimensions. It is in this light that, Shu & Yongjun (2011) carried out a research based on Aaker’s (1997) brand personality dimensions. In their theoretical analysis, they identified 6 brand personality dimensions of which 3 dimensions (Excitement, competence and sophistication) are identical to that of America and the other 3 (Traditionalism, trendiness and joyfulness) supports the Chinese brand personality structure which involves changing cultural values and the traditional values in the Chinese society.
Even though the brand personality dimensions of Aaker (1997) appear somewhat reasonable enough to some cultures and probably applied in china, there still exists that question of whether the structure found in USA can be replicable and suitable when it comes to describing china’s contemporary commercial brands (Shu & Yongjun, 2011).
With a couple of disagreements from other researchers who questioned Aaker’s (1997) brand personality dimensions it prompted Aaker together with other researchers to further look into these personality dimensions and critically examine how they relate in most cultures. Aaker et al. (2001) therefore carried out a study in the United states, Spain and Japan and only part of the initial five dimensions appeared in Spain and Japan. Sung and Tinkham (2005) also carried out researches in South Korea with the use of global and domestic brands also came to the similar conclusion. In line with these findings, Chu & Sung (2011) and Supphellen & Gronhaug (2003) also identified differences and similarities between China and Russia respectively and the Western cultures.
In the question of hypothesis of the dimensions of brand personality across cultures, the five dimensions recommended by Aaker which have been found appears not reliable with countries other than USA even though some other dimensions do match up with their various country’s culture examples of such countries includes, Japan, Russia, China and Spain ). This therefore implies that, all brand personality dimensions are not fixed across cultures.
Different supporting studies suggest that the brand personality dimension of Aaker cannot be practiced equivalently across product categories and across countries. Nonetheless, the scale developed by Aaker (1997) still greatly contributes to the brand personality concept and submits a strong groundwork for researches in the future.
Put to the fact that, researchers do have mixed remarks about the brand personality dimensions scale of Aaker, her dimensions are still being widely used in a variety of empirical studies so as to better scrutinize the importance of brand personality in the purchase intensions of the consumer.