The brand management literature has long acknowledged the strategic importance of managing brand identity. However, prior research has largely ignored brand attractiveness in building such identity in the eyes of consumers. In a recently published article in Tourism Management, HRSM and SmartState team members Kevin So, Simon Hudson, and Fang Meng investigated the role of brand attractiveness in fostering customer brand identification. Focusing on the airline industry, the team found strong support for critical role of brand attractiveness in identification development. They also found that brand prestige, brand distinctiveness, and memorable brand experiences have a significant indirect effect on customer brand identification through brand attractiveness, while brand social benefits contribute directly to such identification. In fact, memorable brand experiences formed the most important predictor of brand attractiveness, suggesting that while brand identity characteristics primarily constructed through external communications (e.g., brand prestige, brand distinctiveness) enhance brand attractiveness, memorable brand experiences play a more important role in forming consumers’ perceptions of the attractiveness of the airline brand’s identity. This finding reinforces the well-established thinking of Berry (2000) that for service brands, “regardless of how well the brand is presented, nothing will salvage a weak brand experience.” Perhaps this explains the success of Richard Branson with Virgin Atlantic Airways – for Branson, flying with Virgin is all about flying in the face of ordinary.
The article can be downloaded HERE