It has almost been a decade now since the iPhone, the pantheon of Apple design, was released, and ever since, all I’ve heard is, ‘What? You don’t have an iPhone?’ Well, I have finally decided to join the technology elite and pre-order the latest iPhone, the iPhone 7, scheduled to release next month. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with my Nexus. It’s just that it has lost its personality.
Personality you say? Since when do cell phones have personalities? Well, all you need to do is stand in front of an Apple store, and you’ll see all the personality you can imagine, enclosed in one product.
The concept of brand personality has been a part of the branding theory since a long time. Brand personality enables a company to influence the way people feel about its product. A company’s brand personality stimulates an emotional response among consumers, with the intention of instigating positive actions that benefit the company.
In 1997, Aaker studied brand dimensions and proposed the ‘big five characteristics’ model regarding brand personality, which includes the following five dimensions:
- Sincerity refers to traits such as being down-to-earth, honest and genuine. Apple is accepted by people because it is genuine, although the price isn’t exactly cheap. However, this may not be perceived as a problem by all since Apple products also have great quality.
- Excitement refers to traits such as spirited, daring, innovative and cutting-edge. Apple products have a daring and spirited personality owing to their screen dimensions and display quality. Moreover, Apple invests billions into research to make the products innovative.
- Competence refers to traits such as intelligence, reliability, efficiency and dependability. Apple products are reliable and intelligent.
- Sophistication refers to traits such as charm, glamour and pretension. Apple products have great quality and are perceived as elegant, luxurious and glamorous.
- Ruggedness indicates the strength of a brand. Apple products are tough and strong and thus not easily destructible.
Now-a-days, consumers embrace a brand because they can relate to its personality. This may be either because the brand has personality traits similar to theirs or because they want their own personality to be more like that of the brand. Aaker (cited in Teimouri et al. 2016, p. 2) suggested that people prefer brands with different dimensions of brand personality. Brand personality influences the trust and the attachment a consumer has towards a particular brand, which increases customer loyalty. The more the consumer perceives the brand as being sincere and competent, the more he trusts it. The levels of sensitivity and involvement modify the impact of brand personality on consumer behaviour (Bouhlel et al. 2011).
Apple’s Brand Personality
Apple has the highest brand loyalty than its competitors (Andu 2013). This is because Apple sells products that radiate fun, excitement and a sense of style. It sells imagination, lifestyle, liberty, passion, innovation, aspirations and power to the people. This partially explains how Apple dived into the cell phone market and seized millions of minds, hearts and credit cards.
Over the years, Apple has mastered the fine art of consistently conveying a ‘hip’, ‘youthful’ personality. In fact, I asked a colleague what he thought about the ‘personality’ of Apple, and mind you, he has never used any Apple product. He said,
‘Apple is totally innovative and definitely upscale. It is easy to use, is very stylish and has excellent quality’.
Although he has never used ANY Apple product, he just ‘knows’ this to be true.
How important is brand personality to you?
Think about it with regards to your shopping habits as you flip through the pages of your weekly magazine. For example, you wish to buy a Hallmark greeting card? You perceive the brand to be ‘down-to-earth, genuine, family oriented and old-fashioned’. You prefer Pepsi over Coke? — ‘Spirited, up-to-date, young and outgoing’. Drive a Lexus or a Mercedes instead of a Ford or a Toyota? — ‘Pretentious, condescending and wealthy’.
But seriously, we all are smart enough to understand how these branding schemes work. We are better informed, not remotely as loyal and much more critical than ever before. Nevertheless, Apple is, well, Apple.
My tech-savvy brother has always been recommending iPhones to me. He knows that I’m an ‘early adopter’, and is, therefore, amazed that it has taken me almost a decade to jump on the iPhone express.
So, completely based on ‘irrational consumer lust’, emotion and respect for this ‘must-have’ toy, I will get my new iPhone with all of its ‘wow factors’, load it with lots of apps and embrace a very cool personality. Then on, instead of hearing, ‘What? You don’t have an iPhone?’, I’m sure I’ll hear, ‘Of course you have an iPhone!’
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