Brand measurement scales and underlying cognitive dimensions

Marco Visentin, Mariachiara Colucci and Gian Luca Marzocchi

University of Bologna

Background

In this paper we present the results of an exploratory study aimed at comparing two perceptual representations of competing brands obtained through two measurement scales: the Aaker brand personality scale and an empirical scale based on a focus group. We then advance a solution as to what causes the underlying cognitive dimensions of the two scales to converge, and discuss the challenges implicit in our findings for current accepted theory in this field.

A perceptual map is a multidimensional representation of brands built on a number of relevant attributes, and depends on the theoretical background underlying the measurement scale used (Shocker & Srinivasan 1979; Green et al. 1989; Steenkamp et al. 1994). From the measurement scales available for measuring the construct of brand personality, we use the brand personality scale (hereafter BP scale) developed by Jennifer Aaker (1997). Despite some recent criticisms, this scale has gone unchallenged and its use has become widespread. The general tenet of the literature on brand personality is that a higher correspondence between human traits and the characteristics of the brand corresponds to a higher preference for the brand (Sirgy 1982; Malhotra 1988). Furthermore, the ability of consumers to decode the metaphor of personality and to correctly answer questions about the personality of the brand is supported by growing empirical evidence (Caprara et al. 2001; Geuens et al. 2009).