I’m with the Brand: Brands and Personal Identity

Last year we gave you a sneak preview of our latest research study, I’m With the Brand, which studied how the brands consumers interact and identify with impact and shape their identities. We surveyed 1,000 people across the country and will be releasing our findings over the next few months. Here is the first set.

How Do Brands Fit Into Personal Identity?

Personal identity is multifaceted and unique to each individual. On average, participants selected 16 areas that they found important in defining their sense of self. Among the most common sources of identity were family, mental abilities, friends, physical appearance, and physical abilities.

While brand relationships aren’t necessarily the most important way to define oneself, just over half (56%) of participants say that the brands they use or associate  with are important in defining how they see themselves. Additionally, brands serve as a way to enhance more important aspects of their identity such as family relationships or friendships.

Fifty-five percent of participants also agree that the brands they see others using say something about who those people are.

“Annie’s Mac & Cheese makes me feel a little bit better as a mom.”

What Brand Categories are Most Important in Shaping Identity?

When asked what brands represent them as a person, respondents gave a variety of answers:  the brand of car they drive, the clothes they wear, the food in their kitchen, and the organizations they belong to.

Overall, clothing and accessory brands (e.g., Nike, Levi’s, Lululemon) were mentioned by almost a quarter of participants as being the brand category that most closely represents who they are as a person. Other top categories include technology, retail, and automotive brands.

Not surprisingly, the top brand categories with the strongest link to personal identity are the ones that are most likely to be seen by others. These are also brands that can help communicate other important aspects of personal identity (e.g., being a parent, being an athlete).

We are looking at choosing a car right now and wondering what that choice will say about us as parents.”

What is the Impact of a Brand That Shapes Personal Identity?

When we know more about consumer relationships with brands, we can communicate more effectively, position products appropriately, and develop new products that meet true consumer needs.

Those with strong brand relationships tend to be incredibly loyal – participants say they have been using the brand that they most closely identify with for an average of 16 years, 79% recommend the brand, and only 5% say a negative experience would influence them to end their relationship with the brand.

I’m an Apple girl. Nothing is going to change that.”

Forty-one percent of those surveyed anticipated their brand use to increase within the coming year, and 89%  said they would go out of their way or pay more for a brand they really like. With an average yearly spend of $1,900 (across all brand categories), it’s clear that when people identify with the brands they use, they become more valuable customers.

We hope knowing that people are saying, “I’m with the Brand!” will help organizations make better, more informed decisions about their products and services. Check back soon for our next set of findings!

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