Brand identities have a dual nature that appeals to the head (rational appeal) and to the heart (emotional appeal) of their consumers. Furthermore, consumers can process information in a predominately analytic or intuitive cognitive style (CS) manner. This study aims to analyze the influence of brand identity-cognitive style (BI-CS) fit on the perceived value of a brand. It also analyzes how different forms of social influence affect the perceived value of the brand.
Using a two-step experimental design, Step 1 examines the effect that BI-CS fit has on consumer-based brand equity (CBBE); Step 2 evaluates the effect that the three elements of social influence–compliance, identification and internalization–have on CBBE.
Both the BI-CS fit, and the identification and internalization forms of social influence have a significant and positive effect over the perceived value of the brand. A rational brand identity is given a higher perceived brand value by analytic CS consumers than intuitive CS consumers. Conversely, an emotional brand identity is given a higher perceived brand value by intuitive CS consumers than analytic CS consumers. However, whether the brand identity is more emotional or rational is less important than the values and beliefs that the brand communicates to create social influence.
This study contributes to the branding literature by introducing the CS concept to better understand the influence of emotional and rational brand identities on consumers with either rational or intuitive cognitive thinking styles and reinforce the importance of the brand duality concept.
The results demonstrate the importance of brand duality and show how firms could present emotional or rational brand identities depending on their consumers’ CS to increase the effectiveness of their messaging to build stronger brand images that increase the perceived value of the brand. These findings could have important implications for market segmentation.
Brand identities can be emotional or rational, and this creates more or less value depending on the consumers’ CS, but what is more important is that consumers internalize the brand’s message or identify with what the brand represents. Although this has been discussed in prior literature, the original contribution of this paper is tying all these concepts together.