Last week I went to the Vegas Speedway to race some Lamborghinis and Ferraris. While waiting for my track time, I had the pleasure of speaking with my new bud- Peter, a professional racer from Exotics Racing. It didn’t take long before the conversation shifted over to brands. (Gee, I wonder why!) I couldn’t resist asking Peter the question, “Peter, what’s the difference between the Ferrari brand and the Lamborghini brand?” Since Peter is a professional driver, I expected a response related to the technical specifications/performance metrics of the brands- like some of the data presented in the chart below. But, his answer really surprised me: Brand personality. (Check here for a 10 second excerpt from his answer.) The prof in me had to probe a little deeper so I followed up with a few “brand audit” type questions related to brand personality. Peter held very clear distinctions between the brands as is evident by these responses.
Anyone who studies brands is familiar with Jen Aaker’s work - The Dimensions of Brand Personality. In this ’97 classic, Aaker suggests that brands take on human traits and characteristics. Using the psych literature as her launchpad, Aaker argued brand personality can be broken into 5 distinct dimensions: Sincerity (down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, cheerful); Excitement (daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date); Competence (reliable, intelligent, successful); Sophistication (upper class, charming); and Ruggedness (outdoorsy, tough). To hear that brand personality is the key differentiator between Lambo and Ferrari - from a technical expert – shows just how relevant brand personality is. From Peter’s “quick and dirty” response, we can project that Ferrari would score higher on competence and sophistication dimensions- and Lamborghini would rank higher on the “excitement” scale.
Of course, brand personality is not only relevant to automobile brands. Consumers have clear perceptions, associations, and attitudes towards intangible aspects of many brands. The intangible stuff is the stuff that makes the brand valuable. Just think of some competing brands and do some quick brand personality comparisons (e.g.Energizer vs. Duracell, Nike vs. Adidas, Apple vs. Microsoft...) Very quickly we see just how relevant and common brand personality is in creating brand differentiation. If you have some time, add a few other brands with stark contrasts in their personalities in the comment section below.
Ferrari and Lamborghini: A few selective technical/performance/attribute comparisons: