Self-brand congruence: we know it’s valuable, but what is it driven by? Floortje Wijnands and Tripat Gill look into the underpinnings of self-brand congruence.

Think about this question for a second: “If you could be a car brand, which one would you be?” We did this little thought experiment with a number of audiences, and they always reacted the same way you probably just did. You immediately thought of a brand and if you take another few seconds you can probably also come up with reasons for your choice. Maybe you’re a Jeep, or even a Porsche?

Time and again, research has shown the importance of this connection that consumers feel between their own versions of self and a brand: ‘self-brand congruence’. Namely, self-brand congruence has been found to improve key business metrics such as brand loyalty or the willingness to pay a higher price for a brand’s products. It is no surprise that brands actively try to create this connection with their customers. However, what drives self-brand congruence, and how brands can measure and improve it, is still up for debate.

To fill this gap, we introduce Brand Affective Congruence (BAC) as a determinant of self-brand congruence. BAC is based on Affect Control Theory, which has a rich history in psychology literature. Affect Control Theory states that we intuitively form assessments of people, objects or situations around us which dictates how we interact with them. These assessments can be measured on three core dimensions:

  1. Evaluation: To what extent is this inherently good or bad?
  2. Potency: To what extent is this inherently strong or weak?
  3. Activity: To what extent is this inherently fast or slow?

The premise of our research is that people form assessments of brands just like they do of other people, objects or situations that can be measured on these same three dimensions. If this is true, the similarity between customers’ perception of self and their perception of a brand on these dimensions (BAC) should influence the degree to which they feel this brand is similar to themselves. This is particularly interesting for researchers and brand practitioners alike, as BAC can be measured on a simple, six item scale and only requires quick, intuitive answers from respondents. This makes it an easy to implement, and parsimonious measure.

In our paper, we validate Brand Affective Congruence using an empirical study with over 500 participants and 12 brands.

Our results show that BAC is an effective determinant of self-brand congruence and has positive downstream effects on brand-self connection, brand trust, purchase intention, and willingness to pay a higher price.

Read more about BAC and its applications in our new paper: “You’re not perfect, but you’re still my favourite” Brand Affective Congruence as a new determinant of self-brand congruence and reach out to us to continue the conversation.

Read the original research article: Wijnands, F. & Gill, T. (2020) ‘You’re not perfect, but you’re still my favourite.’ Brand affective congruence as a new determinant of self-brand congruence. Journal of Marketing Management.

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Floortje Wijnands

Floortje Wijnands (MSc) is a former Lecturer at Maastricht University, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management. Her research interests surround branding, with a particular interest in self-brand congruence, and consumer behaviour. Currently, she is working as an analyst in the food industry.

Tripat Gill

Tripat Gill is Associate Professor of Marketing and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON, Canada. His research interests are in brand management, consumer behaviour and the adoption of innovations. He has published in leading marketing journals including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Business Research, Psychology & Marketing, International Journal of Research in Marketing and Marketing Letters.

Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this posting are the views of the Author(s), and are not necessarily the views of the JMM Editors, Westburn Publishers Ltd. or Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.