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Research Article

ISSN 2229 3795

Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K.1, Prakash O2, Khattri V3
1- FORE School of Management, Delhi
2- Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida
3- Amity Business School, Amity University, Noida

Only a few researchers, such as Plummer (1985) and David Aaker (1996), have pointed on
the importance of brand personality in building competitive advantage and brand loyalty.
Jennifer Aaker (1997) presented the empirical results of her research on the measurement of
brand personality. The rapidly shifting marketing dynamics and sensitive competition of
global market has augmented the task of brands to a supreme level. One important element of
branding is establishing visual standards for a brandcolours, logos, treatments. From a
consumer point of view brand personality is a way for them to express their personalities and
define their lifestyles through material possessions. Brand personality encompasses brand
voice and brand characteristics. The human like traits found in brands, help consumers to
establish a connection with the brand. Marketers strive to make their brands seem like its
consumers own. Brand Personality gives the brand a face. That face is of utmost importance,
because consumers base their choice not only on a differentiating, functional positioning but
also on a likeable personality. Strong brand equity is related to distinct brand personality. The
proposed research paper aims at identifying the parent brand personalities of three cola
brands as perceived by the consumer. To understand brand personality the study incorporates
the use of Jennifer Aakers Brand Personality Scale (BPS) and measure
the brand personality of the three cola brands, namely, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Thumbs Up.
The aim is to explore the model validity of Jennifer Brand Personality scale in Indian
Keywords: Brand, Brand Personality, Brand Personality Dimensions, Perceptual Mapping,
Discriminant Analysis.
1. Introduction
Its a sea of brands out there. Everyone wants their brand to sell. But why that is some brands
fail and some manage to flourish with time. Given the constantly evolving consumer
behaviour, what does essentially make a brand tick? Majority of the companies are trying to
get the consumers attention by creating a distinctive brand image. Cola, which is a brown
carbonated drink that is flavoured with an extract of cola nuts, or with a similar flavouring, is
just a drink. What makes marketers want to give cola brands, an image? Mountain Dew
emphasized the image of highly energetic, brave and daring and that of Pepsi projected
itself to be novel, fresh and youthful through various young actors from time to time. These
kinds of human characteristics associated with a brand are called brand personality.


Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V

Brand extension today is an imperative strategic tool to revitalize and revive an active brand.
Strong brand equity is related to distinct brand personality. Research findings state that strong
brand personalities are likely to generate positive attitude with consumers. As a result the
concept of brand personality contributes to a unique brand identity. It helps gain an in-depth
understanding of consumer perceptions of and attitudes towards the brand. Often differences
in responses by different consumers (regarding brand personality of a brand) provide useful
insights. It is quite possible that the users of a product perceive a brand different from nonusers. The role of the brand personality takes a front seat when all the rational merits of two
rival products (or brands) are deemed equal. All the efforts that a marketer does to create a
brand personality lead to the creation of sustainable brand differentiation.
2. Materials and Method
2.1. Brand Personality Cognizance
A lot of conceptions regarding the brand personality are published in the marketing literature.
In advertising copy, brand personality term was used for non functional dimensions of the
brand. Gradually, researchers identified the contribution of all the elements of marketing mix
in the creation of brand personality. Attributes like price, product form, packaging, symbol
etc were seen as the sub components for its creation. The definitions in Table 1 indicate
brand personality cognizance of various academicians and researchers. These definitions are
collated from several published studies. This study regards brand personality as a set of
human like characteristics associated with a brand (Aaker 1997).
Table 1: Brand Personality Definitions and Perspectives






Author & Year

Reeves, R. (1961).

of Brand Personality Definitions and Perspectives

In copy strategies brand personality was used as a common,

practical, but rather loose, word for assessing non-productbased, nonfunctional dimensions of the brand; it captured the
singularity of the source of the product as if it were a person.
Seguela, J. (1982)
Recommended that all brands be described along three
facets: the physical one (what does the product do and how
well does it perform?), the character (brand personality facet)
and the style (executional elements for advertising and
Plummer (1985)
Brand Personality is the human personality traits or
characteristics to a brand in order to help communicate to
consumers its physical elements or attributes.
suggest that the personality of a brand is created over time,
Lehmann and Singh by the entire marketing mix of the brand its price (high or
(1993) as cited by low, odd or even), retail store location (imagery
Ouwersloot & Tudorica associations), product formulation (ingredients, benefits),
product form (solid/liquid, etc.), packaging details (color,
size, material, shape), symbol used in all phases of the brand
communication, sales promotion, and media advertising.
Upshaw (1995)
the brand personality serves to suggest to the consumer
whether the brand is appropriate or not appropriate for
his or her particular situation. It can also be the facilitator of
consumer and brand, the link through which the


Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V



communication evolves.
set of human-like characteristics associated with a brand
Brand Personality reflects how people feel about a brand,
rather than what they think the brand is or does
VanAuken (2004)
Brand personality refers to adjectives that describe the brand
(such as fun, kind, sexy, safe, sincere, sophisticated, cheerful,
old fashioned, reliable, progressive, etc.). How consumers
perceive a brands personality is often discovered through
qualitative research by asking people to describe the brand as
if it were a person or an animal.
Gonzalez Richard W., Brand personality cant be conceived as just a marketing
Brand tool invented through creative genius and
Dimensions, Whitepaper embedded in advertising slogans. Rather, brand personality
is a whole brand, whole experience, whole organization
Aaker (1997)
Keller (1998)

2.2. Brand personality dimensions

A framework of brand personality dimensions was developed by Jennifer L Aaker. She
postulates that the symbolic nature of brands can be understood at the same level as the
utilitarian nature of brands which tends to be captured by models that are generalizable across
product categories by having 631 respondents rate each of 37 brands on 114 personality traits
- with these brands being carefully selected to represent a broad array of product/service
categories, a few brands per category. She factor analyzed the between-brand variance after
averaging the scores of each brand on each personality trait across multiple respondents. In
other words, the data matrix she factor-analyzed was based on pooled data from 37 brands
across multiple product categories. Using this aggregated category/brand matrix, she found
five factors, labeled Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness.
Figure 1 shows the final brand personality framework developed in her research. The sub
components of each broad factor are listed in the figure. She developed a reliable, valid and
generalisable scale to measure these dimensions.

Brand Personality



Down to Earth








Figure 1: Brand Personality Framework given by Jennifer L Aaker

Source: Aaker, Jennifer L. (1997), Dimensions of Brand Personality, Journal of Marketing
Research, 34 (August), 347-56.
Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V

3. Research Methodology
In the light of the framework discussed by Aaker (1997), this study investigates the brand
personality dimensions of colas. A product category wherein the price and taste, two
dominant attributes are same for many, brand personality becomes the way to register in the
minds of target audience. A dipstick amongst 25 respondents found out that there are
stringent brand loyal customers in the cola category (Coke, Pepsi and Thums Up). Also, if
their preferred brand is not available, they may look for their second preference in the
category. A blind test was done to see whether they can identify the taste of the respective
cola brand. Only 4 out of 25 respondents, i.e. 16% identified the right cola brands after
tasting the three colas without knowing the brand name of the drink. The findings of the
dipstick led to an elaborate study of the brand personality dimensions given by Aaker. Out of
a target of 200 respondents, 192 respondents contributed in all the questions. Hence 192 were
regarded as the sample size for the study.
3.1. Research Objectives
The following were the objectives of the study
1. To study the concept of brand personality and its dimensions.
2. To measure the brand personalities of the Cola brands (Coke, Pepsi and Thums Up).
3.2. Data Analysis and Interpretation
The below mentioned parameters had the following results mapped on a scale of 5 (1-Not at
all descriptive- 5- Extremely Descriptive).
3.2.1 Brand Recall: The highest recall was of the brand Thums Up with 32.84% followed by
Pepsi with 31.86% and Coca-Cola had a recall of 28.92%. Brands like 7up. Mountain Dew,
Sprite etc. had a recall of 6.38% altogether
3.2.2 Top of the mind: For Coca Cola, color red, refreshing and thanda were the terms
topping the charts. For Pepsi, the keyword Youngistan from its tagline was most recalled.
Sweet and blue were other terms associated with the brand. Strong, Akshay Kumar and
thrill were on top of the mind recall of the respondents for the brand Thums Up
3.2.3. Down to Earth: Pepsi was considered to be the least on down to earth vis--vis other
cola brands. Coca Cola scored neutral whereas the response for Thums up was quite evenly
spread out across all the parameters.
3.2.4. Honest: Coca-cola was considered to be most Honest brand followed by Thums Up
and Pepsi was rated least on this brand attribute.
3.2.5. Wholesome: Thums Up is the brand that is considered most wholesome followed by
Pepsi. Neutral responses were given to Coca-cola.
3.2.6. Cheerful: Pepsi is considered the most cheerful brand closely followed by Thums up
and Coca-cola, but on the whole all the three brands were considered to be cheerful.


Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V

3.2.7. Daring: Of all the three cola brands Thums Up was the only brand that was highly
associated to being daring.
3.2.8. Spirited: All the three brands were regarded as spirited in nature. Thums Up was the
least amongst the three.
3.2.9. Imaginative: Coca-cola was rated as the imaginative brand.
3.2.10. Up-to-date: All the three brands are considered up- to- date.
3.2.11. Reliable: Coca-cola and Thums Up were rated as highly reliable. Neutral responses
arose for Pepsi.
3.2.12. Intelligent: Coca-cola scored the maximum in this parameter.
3.2.13. Successful: Coca-cola and Thums Up were rated to be highly successful.
3.2.14. Upper Class: All the three brands were regarded Upper class as their brand
personality attribute.
3.2.15. Charming: Thums Up was not regarded as charming. Amongst the three, Coca
Cola scored the maximum in this parameter whereas Pepsi scored neutral.
3.2.16. Outdoorsy: Thums Up is an outdoorsy brand while Coca-cola and Pepsi are rated
neutral on this attribute.
3.2.17. Tough: Thums Up is considered a tough brand, Coca Cola the least tough and
Pepsi neutral on this attribute.
3.2.18. Over all Brand Personality: All the three brands have shown distinguished brand
personalities. Coca-cola scored most on the broad attribute Sincerity. The rest two colas
maintain a average rating on sincerity scale. All the three brands score similar score in
Excitement attribute. Coca-cola and Thums Up are high on Competence than Pepsi. Coca
Cola and Pepsi are considered Sophisticated while Thums Up the least sophisticated brand.
Thums Up is rated high on Ruggedness scale relative to other Colas.
3.2.19 Perceptual Map Using Discriminant Analysis
The perceptual map shows that all the three brands possess a distinct personality attributes.
Coca-Cola is strongly associated as a very Successful and Down to earth brand. Pepsi is
strongly associated with Up to Date, Charming and Spirited as its personality attribute.
Thums up is a Tough and Honest brand (Figure 2).
4. Discussions
4.1 Brands and Advertisements
Coca Cola from the results proved to be high on competence with low rating on
ruggedness. The brand in its advertising campaign has generally showed a celebration mood.
For a reasonably long time, its tagline has been Open Happiness. Its campaigns are
Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V

innovative and fresh. It has rarely been person centric and always emphasized on gatherings
and the factor of being together. Hence, it has scored a low ranking on ruggedness
parameter. Also, it has never portrayed any action oriented or adventure sports. The brand
ambassador is Amir Khan who brings a level of sincerity and sophistication to the brand. It
may be argued of Coca Cola being a perfectionist as the celebrity Amir Khan is often
considered as Perfection Personified.

Figure 2: Perceptual map

Pepsi has been rated high on excitement factor and very low on competence. On sincerity,
sophistication and ruggedness factors the brand has been rated average. The brand has always
been portrayed as a young brand for the youth with the brand personality that related to
excitement. The tagline over the years talked about Youngisthan. The use of cricket stars
makes the brand being perceived as outdoorsy and tough. The irony is although youth are
used in its campaign, still it scores low on competence thereby making it evident that
success, intelligence and reliability are traits not related to youth.
Thums up has been rated very high on ruggedness and low on sophistication. On sincerity,
excitement and competence the brand has received average rating. The brand is exciting and
very rugged and portrays the image of a wild energetic action oriented person. Its brand
ambassador, Akshay Kumar is commonly termed as the stunt man. Its campaign show the
guts and chivalry to get to the bottle of Thums Up. This can be related to the brand being
tough and outdoorsy which gives it a rugged personality. The brand also has a rugged tagline
of taste the thunder. The image of Akshay Kumar as a successful and competent actor adds
to the competence and excitement of the brand as well.
Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V

4.2. Perceptual Map

Figure 2 represents the perceptual map. The vectors are shown for each of the personality
dimensions Down-to-earth, Honest, Wholesome, Cheerful, Warning, Spirited, Imaginative,
Up-to-date, Reliable, Intelligent, Successful, Upper Class, Charming, Outdoorsy, and Tough.
These vectors represents the effect of discrimination on each dimension. Longer arrows
pointing more closely towards a given group centroid, represent variable more strongly
associated with that particular brand. Vectors pointing in the opposite direction from a given
group centroid (brand) represent lower association with the concerned group.
Variables with longer vectors in a given dimension, and those closer to a given axis
(dimension represented by discriminant function) are contributing more to the interpretation
of that dimension. Looking at all variables that contribute to a given axis (dimension), we can
label the dimension as a combination of those variables.
As seen from the figure the brands have their unique position on the map. In addition, on the
same map, values of the attributes on the same two dimensions (each discriminant function
represents a dimension) are plotted. Going by the rationale of longer vectors, Dimension 1
seems to be successful, Dimension 2 seems to be Tough as it is the vector that is closest to
the vertical axis.
The creation of Perceptual Map clearly indicates the adjectives that are associated with a
particular brand of cola. If Pepsi rates low on the adjective successful (Refer Figure 16), it
can give insight to the marketer, if they want to showcase their brand with this adjective.
Marketing communication featuring Pepsi can thereby focus successful youth icons.
5. Conclusions
The above study will definitely facilitate brand personality statements which are an integral
part of advertising development. Brand personality is crucial for building a sturdy brand,
creating loyal customers and diversifying form the competition. It is what that gives the
marketers the uniqueness, the competitive edge to differentiate themselves. These links,
beliefs and ideas that the consumer holds about a brand will go some way in achieving brand
equity which is the total value of the brand as a discrete asset. This will permit lucid
evaluation and measurement of the overall effectiveness of the marketing efforts, the
dynamic mix of the four Ps that have been exhausted on the brand, and judge the future
implications. It is an invaluable method for future success and growth of the brand. Cola,
being a FMCG has to keep innovating and deliver something novel with new thoughts.
Consumer market does not require their one brand to be everything to them, but to be what it
stood for, what it stands for.
Trying to appeal everybody should be avoided and marketers should try to help consumers
identify themselves in a better way through their brands. Making the brand what the
consumers want it to be. Brand personalities of certain brands succeed because they are
distinctive than their competitors and do not try to be jack of all, but only master of one trait,
character or personality that makes the consumer loyal to the very same brand. It is essential
for marketers to know the consumers more than they know to serve this need, because its not
just the consumer behaviour that is evolving, its the brand characteristics clubbed with cutASIAN JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT RESEARCH
Volume 3 Issue 1, 2012


Brand Personality Mapping: A study on Colas

Das J.K., Prakash O, Khattri V

throat competition, too. Hence its time to look-out for their brand and watch-out for their
A fruitful opportunity for future research can be to further study the consequences of each
sub dimension (e.g. down to earth, honest, wholesome and cheerful) or umbrella dimension
(e.g. sincerity). Another opportunity could be to study the impact of promotional activities on
the brand personality dimensions. Promotional activities like a hype being created over an
issue or a cause, or an event being sponsored by a brand, or an offer being clubbed with
another brand and its impact on each of the brand personality dimensions. Differential
positioning strategies can be identified for the same.
5. References

1. Aaker, Jennifer L. (1997), Dimensions of Brand Personality, Journal of Marketing

Research, 34 (August), pp 347-356.
2. Keller, (1998), Strategic Brand Management, Upper Saddle River, Prentice Hall.
3. Ouwersloot Hans & Tudorica Anamaria, (2001), Brand Personality Creation through
Advertising, MAXX Working Paper Series, MAXX Working Paper 2001-01,
February 2nd, 2001, Maastricht Academic Center for research in Services
4. Plummer J (1985), How Personality makes a difference, Journal of Advertising
Research, 24,(December-January), 27-31.
5. Reeves, R. (1961), Reality in Advertising, Knopf Publishing Co., New York, NY
6. Seguela, J. (1982), Hollywood Lave Plus Blanc, Flammarion, Paris France.
7. Upshaw L. B. (1995), Building brand Identity: A strategy for success in a hostile
marketplace, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc
8. VanAuken Brad (2004), Understanding the language of branding, The Brand
Management Checklist, Kogn Page, Chapter 2, pp 14-22.
9. Gonzalez Richard W., Amicus Brand Dimensions,
Personality its all in the customers mind, Whitepaper #6



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