Emotional Branding Scale and Its Role in Formation of Brand Trust

—from Paradigm
Academically, the topic of branding has gathered immense attention as academicians intend to study how and which brands are able to capture consumer’s attention in ever-changing marketplace (Keller & Lehmann, 2006). This importance has increased due to ever-increasing need for a product being projected as different from other similar offerings.

Branding considered as being the pursuit of differentiating one producer’s products from another has been in forefront of fulfilling this endeavour (Keller, 2003). Various studies have shown that appropriate branding strategy can be instrumental in beating competition and leveraging established position in new markets (Holt, Quelch, & Taylor, 2004).

In one of studies, Holt (2004) categorized these branding strategies into different levels. At first level, brand reflects core values of the product such as their functional benefits, availability and pricing. Such focus by a brand is primarily used for utilitarian and low-involvement products like soaps and toothpastes where only few key benefits needs to be projected to influence a customer (Christodoulides & de Chernatony, 2010; Hoeffler & Keller, 2003).
For example, the promotional campaign of Pepsodent advertisements focus primarily on distinctive benefit (cavity fighting and gentleness) supported with rational arguments (dentists’ recommendation). Similarly, Dove propounds its benefit of being gentle on the skin as each bar contains one quarter cleansing cream.

At second level, after the initial experience with the product a consumer expects more. This augmentation is fulfilled by the brand through emotional connections with the consumer (Thompson, Rindfleisch, & Arsel, 2006). At this stage, it satisfies both emotional and functional needs of the consumer (Brakus, Schmitt, & Zarantonello, 2009).

Emotional branding (EB) as it is termed creates touching ties with the consumers (Gobe, 2001; Lindstrom, 2005).
For instance, Coke transformed itself from communicating drink’s benefits to touching feelings of pride and enjoyment among youth. However, with increasing understanding and association with product and its features, it is only creativity that limits the extent to which the brand can mature to its full potential level (Lederer & Hill, 2001). Carroll and Ahuvia (2006), for example, highlighted brand love as such a construct targeting sentiments resulting in higher levels of loyalty.

Up to 1990s, first level of branding popularly termed as mind share branding (Acuna, 2012; Holt, 2006) focussed on providing consistent and timeless communication to the consumer. Constructs measuring only functional benefits of brands in mind share branding allowed its formal operationalization (V. A. Briciu & Briciu, 2016).

Focus on evoking emotions was never considered. However, EB being a study of incorporating additional layers in the form of psychological connections with the consumer to core brand was considered difficult to formalize. It is related to a change in the consumer mindset due to evolution of marketplace, making it abstract in nature (Rossiter & Bellman, 2012). 
Considering this lack of availability of structured tool to measure EB, step 1 of this study is to develop a scale for its measurement. The study in step 2 examines the association of EB constructs formulated in step 1 with the most important attribute of establishing trust and confidence.

Trust is considered to be cornerstone of any positive and long lasting relationship (Chaudhuri & Holbrook, 2002). EB aims to form such relationships. Thus, studying trust as an outcome of EB strategy was considered to be relevant. So, objectives of the study were twofold; first, formalizing a scale to measure EB, and second, its association in creation of trust or doubt towards the brand.

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