01 Apr Brand names as signal to identity
Brand names can send signals on product quality, performance, reliability, and reputation (Aaker, 1997; Brexendorf, Bayus, & Keller, 2015). These signals may help shape brand identity in consumers’ minds (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). Consumers often use brands to signal to others that they possess a trait(s) associated with the brand (Park & John, 2010). Brands are signals of identity and choice of brands that consumers prefer is driven by desires to communicate identity, self- expression, and uniqueness (Chan, Berger, & Van Boven, 2012).
Marketers communicate brand identity through signs and symbols using logos, name, taglines, and images. In the context of social media, marketers often use brand names in their messages to fans/followers. Customers tend to become fans/followers of familiar brands on social media sites that reflect their identity and often share messages related to those brands (Wallace, Buil, & de Chernatony, 2014). For marketers, one way to trigger brand identity in their brand communication messages is to include their brand names. We argue that the use of brand names in social media message context would elicit sharing of messages due to customer brand identity (Berger, 2014; Chan et al., 2012).
Brand names can act as primes by increasing a brand’s accessibility which may affect the probability that it is retrieved and considered for choice (Nedungadi, 1990). Brand names could activate brand identity- consistent traits and concepts, thus influencing behaviors (Brasel & Gips, 2011; Fitzsimons, Chartrand, & Fitzsimons, 2008; Hudson, Huang, Roth, & Madden, 2016; Park & John, 2014; Wänke, 2016). Since brands are seen as extensions of self and have personalities, they tend to pro- vide psychological value to customers by depicting their personality and identity related motivations (Aaker, 1997; Belk, 2013; Fitzsimons et al., 2008). Customers often relate to brands that reflect self-enhancement (want to build connection with brand and the self) and self- verification goals (want to be like others who use the brand) (MacInnis & Folkes, 2017). Indeed, consumers do use brands to signal who they are to others (Park & John, 2018).
Social media provides a unique opportunity for individuals to depict their opinions, values, identity, affiliations, and self-enhancing traits to others. On social media sites, consumers often become fans/followers of familiar brands and share brand related posts to elevate their self-enhancement and self-verification goals (Berger, 2014; Swani & Milne, 2017). The mention of familiar brand names in content is likely to impact its sharing. This should be true specifically when the familiar brand name in the social media content is congruent with one’s self- identity or an image that one would like to portray in the eyes of others. One of the primary motivations for consumers to share content is to elevate their self-presentation or self-enhancement in the eyes of others (Berger, 2014). Familiar brands that may elevate such traits to enhance self-presentation are likely to be shared and consumed more than those brands that fail to do so (Berger, 2014; Lovett, Peres, & Shachar, 2013).
- Aaker, J. L. (1997). Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research, 347–356.
- Keller, K. L. (1993). Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand Journal of Marketing, 1–22.
- Brexendorf, T. O., Bayus, B., & Keller, K. L. (2015). Understanding the interplay between brand and innovation management: Findings and future research directions. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43(5), 548–557.
- Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2003). Consumer-company identification: A framework for understanding consumers’ relationships with companies. Journal of Marketing, 67(2), 76–88.
- Park, J. K., & John, D. R. (2010). Got to get you into my life: Do brand personalities rub off on consumers? Journal of Consumer Research, 37(4), 655–669.
- Chan, C., Berger, J., & Van Boven, L. (2012). Identifiable but not identical: Combining social identity and uniqueness motives in choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(3), 561–573.
- Wallace, E., Buil, I., & de Chernatony, L. (2014). Consumer engagement with self-expressive brands: Brand love and WOM outcomes. The Journal of Product and Brand Management, 23(1), 33–42.
- Berger, J. (2014). Word of mouth and interpersonal communication: A review and directions for future research. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(4), 586–607.
- Nedungadi, P. (1990). Recall and consumer consideration sets: Influencing choice without altering brand evaluations. Journal of Consumer Research, 17(3), 263–276.
- Brasel, S. A., & Gips, J. (2011). Red Bull “Gives You Wings” for better or worse: A double- edged impact of brand exposure on consumer performance. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(1), 57–64.
- Fitzsimons, G. M., Chartrand, T. L., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2008). Automatic effects of brand exposure on motivated behavior: How apple makes you “think different”. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(1), 21–35.
- Park, J. K., & John, D. R. (2018). Judging a book by its cover: The influence of implicit self-theories on brand user perceptions. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 28(1), 56–76.
- Swani, K., & Milne, G. R. (2017). Evaluating Facebook brand content popularity for service versus goods offerings. Journal of Business Research, 79, 123–133.
- Lovett, M. J., Peres, R., & Shachar, R. (2013). On brands and word of mouth. Journal of Marketing Research, 50(4), 427–444.