Brand personality (human-like characteristics of a brand) has been a popular topic in the marketing literature for over 50 years. However, there is a lack of consumer-focused studies investigating what factors shape perceptions of brand personality. To address this gap, the purpose of the current study is to understand how consumers form their perceptions of the different dimensions of brand personality identified in Aaker's scale (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness), and what product or brand characteristics influence these perceptions. Sixty-six interviews were conducted with graduate students, who were asked to discuss which brands reflected the specific dimensions of brand personality in Aaker's scale. As a result, we identify the kinds of brands consumers perceive as typical for each personality dimension, discover their common characteristics and explain the reasons why some brands are strongly associated with a particular dimension and some are not. Our findings indicate that specific brand personality dimensions are associated with particular product categories. However, brands mentioned as strong on respective personality dimensions share commonalities beyond just a product category. For instance, sincere brands share family-related associations and high morals, exciting brands offer consumers the opportunity to experience exciting feelings and are related to special ‘exciting’ occasions, competent brands are mostly associated with expertise and quality, sophisticated brands are usually of feminine nature, whereas rugged brands are of masculine nature. Moreover, we find that brands which consumers perceive as lacking on a particular personality dimension also share common attributes.
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