Power, John and Whelan, Susan (2005) INCONGRUENCY & RUTHLESS BRANDS: MODELLING THE EFFECTS OF TRUST ON THE CUSTOMER - COMPANY RELATIONSHIP. In: 8th Annual Conference of the Irish Academy of Managment, 7th - 9th September 2005, Galway - Mayo Institute of Technology.


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The image congruity theory has received great interest by marketing academics over the decades (Bellenger et al., 1976; Malhotra, 1981; Sirgy and Chenting, 2000). However, to date most of the research concerning image congruity is based on the assumption that the greater the image match between consumer and brand, the more favourable the relationship between the two (Malhotra, 1981; Aaker, 1997). Aaker’s (1997) Brand Personality Scale was validated for a variety of consumers and products, and generally consisted of positive dimensions (e.g. sincere, rugged, competent, sophisticated, excited) and proposed that a good image was determined by those brands which rated highly on positive dimensions. Recently, there has been an extension to the concept of image congruence and its application to corporate image (Davies et al., 2004; Argenti and Druckenmiller, 2004). However to date, the marketing literature has neglected to investigate brand-consumer incongruency, and more importantly to try to offer explanations for this with regard to outcomes such as satisfaction and purchase behaviour. We argue that success is neither about having an image which rates either positively (for example, highly agreeable) or negatively (for example, highly ruthless) on various dimensions of brand personality, nor is it about always having a congruence or ‘match’ between brand image and consumer image as theoretical contributions have suggested. This paper aims to investigate this issue and offer such explanations by investigating brands traditionally viewed as ‘ruthless’ and ‘agreeable’ on a measurement scale (Davies et al., 2002) through the development and testing of a conceptual model. That said, surely it is not only ruthless people who purchase ruthless brands. We propose that corporate image is every dimension of the brand, which is externally perceived by the consumer. It is therefore the aggregate of organisation brand image (product and company) and CEO image. The management of this externally perceived image is clearly of significance to the field of corporate reputation management (Brown and Dacin, 1997). For instance, today there are numerous companies who are perceived as ruthless in their business operations but yet hold a positive image with their publics e.g. Ryanair. Similarly, there are numerous CEO’s that hold somewhat ruthless images but these traditionally negative images are not influential over public perception of the corporate image e.g. Richard Branson (seen as ruthless) and Virgin (seen as an agreeable alternative). We use the metaphor of ‘brand as person’ to present a conceptual framework that illustrates the relationships between consumer, organisation brand (product and company) and CEO image. The influence that brand trust as a moderator (Mayers et al., 1995) has on the consumer - company relationships is examined, and likewise the influence that brand trust has on the relational outcomes of intimacy, self-connectedness, commitment and purchase intention are discussed. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for theory and managerial practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments or Groups: Waterford Crystal Marketing Studies Group
Divisions: School of Business > Department of Management and Organization
Depositing User: John Power
Date Deposited: 24 May 2007 13:52
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:25

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