My, But That Brand Becomes You! Or…Vice-Versa?

Do we take on the attributes and behaviors of the brands we purchase?

I know that buying a BMW certainly wouldn’t make me a superb driver just because I now own the Ultimate Driving Machine.

Rather the opposite, in fact.  Get that ticket pad ready, officer.

Research shows brands are important to how we self-identify,  especially when it comes to apparel, luxury and similar lifestyle brands.

“For example, if I want to convey an image of being adventurous, I might buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle or wear casual clothes from outdoor adventure companies such as REI,” says Deborah Roedder John, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota and one of the authors of the study published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Well, sure.  Of course.

We’re belaboring the absolute obvious: they’re brands, after all, and successful brands get that way by their ability to speak to specific desires or aspirations we hold.

Naturally a person who buys a Vuitton bag will strut down Rodeo Drive with their head — or nose — held a little higher; it’s why they’ve acquired that “tribal badge” in the first place, to affirm their sense of self.

Jagger nailed it fifty years ago: He can’t be a man because he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me. Before the Stones started pioneering corporate sponsorship of music tours. of course.

There are all kinds of reasons we embrace brands. Emotional ones that skate well under the surface: one study showed we assign higher value to brands that can be more easily classified as “male” or “female.”

But some individuals who are differently-integrated into social morays, who doesn’t seek out brands as an expression of self, may not have these kinds of reaction.

Which is why it’s important that brands offer both emotional hooks and functional benefits for their users.  Interesting how, as we escalate up the price range in categories, the former grows and the latter shrinks; a BMW or Audi has buckets of style and Germanic sangfroid, but also can get the kids to and from band practice, whereas the neighbor’s Lamborghini isn’t much good at anything you can really exploit in the everyday except…well, being a Lamborghini.

They’ve paid for the pure emotional and totemic power of the brand, not for practicality.

It makes them feel good about themselves. Does it make them really seem sexier, smarter, more dynamic to the rest of us? Are we that shallow?

On a side note: anybody know the lease cost on an Aventador..?

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