Consumer identity: What do brands say about you?
What brings someone to tattoo a brand logo on their body? The basic role of branding is to create a clear system defining what the brand stands for in people’s minds. When you see a logo or hear a brand name, specific associations will likely come to mind. For example, hear “Nike” and you might think of athletic performance.
If carefully managed, branding will help differentiate from competitors in a meaningful way. BMW’s associations as the ultimate driving machine differentiate the brand in terms of drivability and handling, meaningful attributes for car buyers.
But at its best, the values and ideals of a brand will be perceived by the consumer to be aligned with their own so much so that the brand comes to represent their own identity and sense of self, and their self represents the brand. This is sometimes called identity loyalty, and research suggests this can have powerful effects.1,2
Anyone who has heard devoted iPhone users debate Android users on which phone is better will recognize this effect. Such a discussion usually ends with one person saying something like “You wouldn’t understand—it’s an Apple thing.”