Role of Advertising in Creating Brand Personality


J. Varaprasdreddy
A. Ramesh
Asst. Professor
TKRIMS, Hyderabad


Advertising is one of the key elements in building a brand personality, which is equally important to the marketer & consumers.  Brand personality is distinct, non preemptible enduring and associates the brand with certain values.  Brand personality acts a potent brand differentiator and offers sustainable competitive advantage.

Advertising by creating or reinforcing brand's personality enhances brand value or equity , which in turn can be leveraged through brand extension.  Brand personality also helps brands to gain market share, command price premium and insulates from discounting Brands.

Consumers as  part of self-defining process, use possessions to describe themselves  and also to which group they belong,  especially in socially conspicuous product categories such as clothing, automobiles etc.(what is me is related to what I have)   Brands make personality statements, users associate a brand with a strong personality.

Key advertising elements such as endorser, user imagery, symbols and execution elements contribute to Brand personality.

Role of advertising in creating Brand Personality

Human beings have a personality, which is essentially a summation of traits.  Brand personality can be defined in several ways, with emphasis on emotion, human and tangible aspects of the brand. It can also be defined as sum of the tangible and intangible aspects of the brand. Even for industrial product like steel, SAIL uses emotional connect with 'punch line' there is bit of SAIL in everybody's life.  Brand personality, is process of transforming the brand into a person or humanizing the brand.  Thus brands can also have characteristics (Ex: Sex, Gender, skills & abilities etc). Marketers deliver the personality using  advertising, features, packaging etc.

Users and non users differ in perceptions with respect to Brand personality users attach a distinct personality to the brand.  Established brands have unique personality   which is generally consistent and may be implicit.  Brand personality enables to establish relationship between brand & consumer with emotional content.  The degree of proximity between brand and consumer personality, will influence the purchase intension and brand loyalty.  Brands need to update personality to stay contemporary and relevant, as target audience personality may change over a period of time, due to changes in cultural, economic, media exposure etc.  Brand personality should not be confused with target audience characteristics. Personality may be existing or aspirational.  Projective techniques can be used to describe brands.  Consumers can be asked to associate the brand, with adjectives (word association, sentence completion etc.) and also can be asked about user imagery.

For example:

Brands                                           :      Personality
Moods                                    :      Sensitivity
Thumbs up                              :      bravery / daring
Amul                                      :      humour
MTV                                       :      wacky
Indiakings                               :      Sophistication (upper class)
Woodlands                              :      Ruggedness & outdoorsy
Mahindra Scorpio                      :      Ruggedness
Marlboro                                 :      Ruggedness
Ruff & Tuff                              :      Bravery
Sona chandi Chavanprash          :      Bravery
Britania little hearts                  :      Love & Affection

Brand                                             :      Adjective
Liril                                        :      freshness  & Lime
Lux                                        :      Beauty,softness
Dove                                      :      Softness
Bisleri                                     :      Safety
Bajaj Pulsar                             :      Power
Yamaha                                  :      Power
Titan                                      :      Style, elegance
Cinthol                                    :      Freshness
Mysore Sandal                          :      Traditional
Medimix                                   :      Traditional

In all of the above brands, advertisement elements such as selection of the endorsers and execution etc., delivered the Brand personality.

Using of Film stars for the Lux beauty soap is logical and the attractiveness of celebrity is high.  This is critical and leads to credibility.  Endorser personality gets transferred to the brand . Thumb up soft drink has distinct personality owing to chivalry based ads, which also communicates about user imagery. The name 'Marlboro' evokes Wild West imagery, thanks to ads and consistency of the marketers in maintaining the same brand personality.  Ads for multi utility vehicles like Mahendra scorpio , shows the ruggedness personality.

Nokia Powerful technology brand.

'Nokia' one the world's most valuable brand has distinct personality.  The slogans.' We call this human technology', 'only Nokia  human technology enables you to get more out of life' and 'connecting people' emphasize  human side of technology, thereby resulting in brand personality of trusted friend.  It also stands for reliability and quality.  The ads also played prominent role in contributing to the distinct personality.

The ads of Sprite cool drink primarily positioned on thirst quenching platform, depict  the no nonsense type, down to earth personality of cool drink laced with humour &  spoof, complimented by distinct shape and colour of the bottle.


The selection of an endorser is critical, as the personality of the endorser can get transferred to the brand.  Hathway shirts has acquired strong image owing to presence of sophisticated and mysterious endorser.  Marlboro cowboy gave macho image to the brand.  Endorser may be real or fictional. Using celebrities as brand endorser  has advantages & disadvantages. celebrity enjoys instant recognition & goodwill that can be transferred to the brand.  Local celebrities can be used in local / Regional markets Ex. Pavan Kalyan for Pepsi in A.P. Celebrities can also be experts in some situations such as Michael Jordan expert in basketball shoes.  The using  of Film stars for  Lux beauty soap and highly successful sports persons for Nike is logical and shows brand fit.

Sachin, Shahrukh Khan and Big 'B' endorse number of brands.  Choosing the right celebrity & levering their qualities is important, otherwise celebrity endorsement may end up as futile exercise also involving wastage of money.

Sachin stands for style, power play, technique and excellence or performance.  Sharukh Khan represents energy & entertainment and style.  They cut across all demographic groups and have mass appeal.

For 'Boost' Health beverage brand fit with Sachin is excellent.  Similarly, King Khan is also played role in the success of 'Santro small car'  Rahul Dravid was brand  endorser for Max New York life insurance, as he stands for  trust, reliability, Which can be transferred  to the brand.  The same is the case with Steve Waugh endorsing ANP SANMAR Life insurance.

'Exide' has signed the new batting sensation MS Dhoni for  his power play and talent.

Jhon Abraham is the latest upcoming star, is endorser for brands like Yamaha, Samsung etc., because of his rugged looks, good physique and youthfulness.

Endorser stands for certain favorable values of the brand such as performance, style and reliability etc.

Personality of the brand and celebrity should complement each other.  Reliable celebrity ensures instant awareness, acceptability and positive attitude towards the brand, which is precursor to buying.

Use of  Cheeranjevi, Big' B' King Khan in publication ads, to salvage the brand image of brands (Thumbsup, Pepsi, CDM) after setbacks is excellent way to leverage on the celebrity credibility

This will be provide much needed assurance to the consumers and also protect brand image  & values.

The element of creativity is critical while using celebrity endorsements.  Otherwise celebrity may overpower, and overshadow the brand (vampiring effect). Boost advertisement featuring Sachin etc is a classic example of effective celebrity endorsement.

The Visa TV involving Hollywood star RichardGere, depicts the essence of Visa brand power (convenience, wide acceptance) through emotional appeal. This is excellent way of adapting the communication to local markets.

Indian celebrity can connect foreign brand with the Indian consumer with great effect.

S. Kumar's has Big ' B' is brand  Ambassador for Reid & Taylor, as it will enable them to Indianise the brand personality.,Shahrukh Khan the Bollywood superstar is brand ambassador for Tag Heuer.  The core values of the brand, pride, passion, precision and perfection closely matches with  the personality.

Singapore Girl for Singapore airlines also played key role in brand personality  of Singapore airlines.

Endorser                    -   Attributes
Amitabh Bacchan      -   resilent, professional, charismatic unassuming
Sharukh Khan           -  Youth Icon. Stylish, successful
Sachin                    -  (Excellence, determination faith hardwork)
Rahul Dravid             -  Mr. Dependable ,( Reliable, composure Consistency)
Virender Sehawag     -  Swashbuckling
M.S. Dhoni               -  Sheer power play
Rani Mukherji            -  Youthful, enthusiastic,

User Imagery

It describes who or what type of person, might use that product / brand.  Somebody may identify himself as Mercedes owner or Volvo driver. The recent TVC of Raymonds,( playing with puppies) focuses on soft side of man (i.e. caring and loving) and also on subtle aspects of life styles of executives.  Here the focus is on emotional aspects rather than on functional attributes).

User imagery also communicates about the life style of the user.  User imagery results in user-driven image which is transferred to the Brand.  Brand personality needs to be updated with change in user imagery and information so that the brand remains contemporary and relevant.

The Thumbsup, Marlboro, are classic examples for 'user imagery' contributing to brand personality & success.  In fact, some of the brands have become cult brands in which brand personally played prominent role.

Kingfisher attained distinct personality as fun, frolic and lively supported by their ads and event sponsorships. Smirnoff attained youthful and innovative personality and all their innovative promotions are in tune with the brand personality. MTV has become coolest brand among the youth as channel, with sensible promotions(MTV youth icon award)and believed in  talking to the audience/youth and localization of the content.

Executional  elements:

The elements like layout, colour etc (in print ads) and  visual appeal, music etc in broad cast advt.  also contribute to the Brand personality.  Intelligent and creative  ads  deliver brand personality. IBM. Intel are excellent techno brands, in which advertising also played  prominent role in their success.  Mozart symphony played in Titan Ad. Complements the brand personality of Titan as sophistiscation, elegance etc. success of absolute Vodka in U.S.A. is also attributed to clever execution of the advt  in which bottle image figures always in  intelligent way, with Withy Puns.

Tangible aspects of the Brand.

Brand's  tangible  aspects like package and other elements like price are also key elements. Nirma's  price & transparent package, Yellow colour of the detergent powder, symbolize 'Down to Earth' personality  of Nirma.

Smell package of Medimix and Mysore Sandal (including soap shape) gives distinct personality to them.  Absolute Vodka, transparent liquid and shape of the bottle played key role in brand personality.

Symbols & Logos

Symbols can also be used effectively to communicate brand values and characteristics. Mascots may also be part of the logo of a brand.  Eicher uses head of the horse in the past , representing power and sturdiness of the Tractor.  Eicher now uses galloping horse after diversifying its operations.  Goodlands Nerolac uses Guddy tiger, signifying bright lasting colours. 

Apple computers uses as it represents fun and  friendliness.

These symbols / mascots have become endearing and shombitSengupta designed wipro logo of rainbow colours.

LIC used hands of logo where represents safety, UTI has 'Kalash' as it is considered sacred and signals good things.  Royal stag brand uses 'Horse' symbolizing naturalness and purity.

ITC welcome group has W-Namaste as its logo, which captures the Indian tradition of welcoming  the guests.

Logos should be

* Unique but easy to recoginize
* Worth remembering and represent  ideas etc.
* Look simple and yet capture wider meaning.
* relevant and in tune with the time.

Nike represents action, Swoosh symbol represents it. 

Britania little hearts  uses  'heart logo' symbolizing love and affection.

Slogans / Punchlines

They also reflect Brand personality.

Peter England                              -     Honest Shirt (sincerity)
LIC                                            -     Try Thy name is LIC (Trust)
L & T switch gear                         -     Safe & Sure (Trust)
Bajaj                                          -     Inspiring confidence (Competence)
Videocon                                     -    The Indian Multinational (Competence)
Vantlensen                                  -     Power  Evolved (Sophistication- upper class)
Bank of Rajasthan                         -     Dare to Dream (Excitement)
The New India Assurance Co. Ltd.    -    Assurance of the leader (Competence)
Mahindra Scropio                          -     Nothing else will do (Ruggedness)
Bank of India                                -    Bank that cares (empathy)
Nike                                           -     Just do it (Motivation, excitement)

Slogans enhance brand recall and have strong linkage with brand's essence / key values. Logos support brand names, provide ease in processing visual information lead to brand recall.  Logo can be textual, abstract design and may be real.

They convey a clear meaning or suggest something about product category / brand / values / features / benefits  of the brand.

Executional Elements:

Semantics of the ad and Big 'B' presence, played prominent role in delivering the Brand essence of Dabur Chyanvanprash  highlighting the traditional and natural,  effective way to strengthen mind & body.

Brand personality plays prominent  role in product categories such as alchohol, cigarettes, cool drinks, and perfumes. Brand personality may dominate functional attributes though which are equally important, thereby influencing consumer's preference.

It also acts as differentiator in case of Brand parity with respect to brand features. The key differentiating factor between brands such as  Coke , Pepsi, Thumpsup, Wiilsflake and India Kings is their distinct personality.

Consumers have actual and ideal self concept, which has bearing on buying behavior.  Self concept is sort of individual perception on his/her characteristics, abilities etc and also what others opinion on him/her is  there.  The proximity between self image and brand's image, will determine the attitude towards the brand.  Consumers see brands and their associates, as means to express..  Marketers through ads try to activate self image / concept of consumer, which may be existing or aspirational through various elements such as Execution, celebrity, logos / symbols etc.

Ads work on image congruence and try to influence consumer attitude and preference thus evaluations.

The problem arises when brand self image is not in sync with that of consumer and vice-versa.  The need arises to determine the brand personality (existing) and change it so as to match with that of consumer self image. For example, Brand which is considered as old, cannot be targeted to young target audience.

In case of incongruence, Advertising needs to highlight functional aspects, and emphasize brand image in case of image congruence. Thus brand image may become dominant factor influencing buyer behaviour. It also helps to nullify the weaknesses of the brand contributing to poor perception.  


To conclude, Brand personality being potent tool needs to be leveraged to achieve key objectives for existing & new brands. Consistency is also important, failing which dilution of brand personality or absence of it may occur.  Other mix elements like distribution, pricing, promotion  and packaging (apart from advertising) should support and strengthen brand personality.


1. AAKER, David building strong Brands, 1996.
2. Sengupta, subrato  Brand positioning Strategies for competitive advantage" Tata Mcgraw Hill, New Delhi 1990.
3. Upshaw, Lynn B.   Building Brand Identity, Jhon Wiley & Sons 1995.
4. Moorthi, YLR  'Brand Management The Indian Context Vikas publishing 2005. 5. Kapferer, Jean Noel, Developing New Brands, Pitnam publishing 1973.
6. Rajeev Batra, Myers Jhon.G, Aaker David, Advertising Management  5th edition, Pearson Education Asia.

J. Varaprasdreddy
A. Ramesh
Asst. Professor
TKRIMS, Hyderabad

Source: E-mail April 13, 2006


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