Humanizing a Brand: Consumer Relationships Through an Anthropomorphic Lens

By Kristen Calabro
Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications
2014, Vol. 5 No. 2 | pg. 3/3 |

Conclusion

Though they may not be right for every brand, this study shows that spokescharacters have an undeniably positive effect on brand personalities. The results indicated that having personality traits that the target demographic associates with an ideal self-concept or social identity is not always enough to guarantee the brand’s success. Intelligent and clever use of spokescharacters can personify a brand so effectively that consumers will develop a real relationship with the brand, perhaps one that results in brand love. Spokescharacters support the abilities of consumers to interact with, identify to, and aspire to be what the brand chooses to represent. Marketing professionals should not underestimate the power of spokescharacters and the integration of ideal traits in their own communication strategies or in the strategies of their competitors. Future research will permit the advertising industry to better understand how this personification technique can help elevate brands’ success.

Suggestions for Future Research

While current research proves that the anthropomorphism of brands through spokescharacters strengthens the consumers’ resistance to negative information about brands, little research exists that directly supports the enhancing effect of spokescharacters on brand identification this study examined. Possible follow-up studies could include research that quantifies this effect spokescharacters seem to have on brand identification, as well as further examine the role that specific personality traits play in the brand experience.

Limitations

Due to the limited scope of this study, its results are subject to dispute. The process of selecting the brands and their traits was subjective. Gender may have played a role in respondents’ brand preference due to the masculine associations of beer and the classification of the body washes as a men’s product. Subjectivity of the traits is also a culpable limitation. Synonyms of the words may have elicited a different response; for instance, being mysterious versus and enigmatic may have differing effects, even though in essence both words share the same definition.

The traits chosen for each brand do not have the support of quantitative data; other traits may have been a stronger representation of the brand’s personality depending on constituent’s perceptions. Lack of demographic information was also a limitation, which did not allow me to account for gender bias, among other demographic related factors. Since women are already making more than half of all body wash purchases, gender may not have been a factor in the Old Spice and Dove Men+Care comparison, but it may have played a larger role in beer brand appeal (“Old Spice,” n.d.).

Watching the commercials embedded in the survey was also not mandatory and it was impossible to determine how many respondents viewed them. If not all of the respondents viewed the same commercials, their brand experience will vary, along with their relationship with the brand and their perception of the brand.


Acknowledgements

This author is thankful to Dr. David Copeland at Elon University for his supervision and advice, without which the article could not be published. The author also appreciates numerous reviewers who have helped revise this article.


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Appendix A: Survey

Title: Capstone Survey

Description: The purpose of this survey is to identify which traits should be incorporated into brand identity to build brand loyalty.

I. Select three characteristics that you believe are apart of an ideal personality.

a. Laid back
b. Protective
c. Confident
d. Mysterious
e. Fun
f. Interesting
g. Caring
h. Sexy

II. Section Header: Please watch the 30-second commercial spots before selecting your brand preference.

III. Embedded Video: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” Old Spice Commercial (Old Spice, 2010).

IV. Embedded Video: “Outer Layer Care” Dove Men+Care Commercial (Benim, 2013).

a. Select your preferred body wash brand.
b. Help Text: Ladies – select which brand you would prefer men to use.

  1. Dove Men
  2. Old Spice

V. Embedded Video: “Shoes” Corona TV Commercial (SpotTV, 2014).

VI. Embedded Video: “The World’s Most Interesting Man” Dos Equis TV Commercial (LovePinkCouture, 2010).

a. Select your preferred imported beer.

  1. Dos Equis
  2. Corona

Appendix B: Survey Results

Select three characteristics that you believe are apart of an ideal personality. Select your preferred body wash brand. Select your preferred imported beer.
Laid back, Confident, Fun Old Spice Corona
Confident, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Laid back, Protective, Confident, Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Laid back, Confident, Fun Dove Men Corona
Confident, Fun, Sexy Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Laid back, Confident, Fun Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Interesting Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Protective, Caring Dove Men Corona
Confident, Interesting, Sexy Old Spice Corona
Confident, Fun, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Protective, Confident, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Protective, Confident, Mysterious, Fun, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Corona
Confident, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Corona
Laid back, Confident, Fun Old Spice Corona
Confident, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Fun, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Corona
Laid back, Fun, Interesting Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Laid back, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Dove Men Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Confident, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Confident, Fun, Interesting Old Spice Corona
Confident, Fun, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Corona
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Confident, Fun Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Confident, Caring Old Spice Corona
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Interesting, Caring Old Spice Corona
Confident Dove Men Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Protective, Confident, Caring Old Spice Corona
Protective, Fun, Caring Dove Men Corona
Protective, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Sexy Old Spice Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Interesting Dove Men Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Mysterious, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Confident, Fun, Interesting Old Spice Corona
Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Corona
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Confident, Fun, Interesting Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Confident, Interesting Old Spice Corona
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Dos Equis
Fun, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Laid back, Fun, Interesting Old Spice Dos Equis
Laid back, Interesting, Caring Dove Men Dos Equis
Confident, Fun, Caring Old Spice Corona
Laid back Old Spice Dos Equis

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