Brands sway consumer behavior by clicking with consumers’ self-image. Advertisements depict lifestyles and levels of happiness that consumers want to experience, and those serve as symbols of what marketers want their brands to represent. The ultimate effect of a brand on consumer behavior is largely based on how consumers subjectively perceive and relate to the brand.
The effect of planting a clear brand message in consumers’ minds is that consumers can personalize the message and begin to adopt the brand. The message put out to a target audience, if consistent and memorable enough to get consumers’ attention in the first place, really is more of a seed planted in consumers’ minds that then begins to develop into the brand’s image. A brand’s image is not the product itself, nor is it the exact marketing message designed by advertisers, but rather it's a personal perception of the product grown in the mind of each consumer, according to the Association for Consumer Research.
Brand packaging, advertising, media attention on a brand and peer perception of a brand contribute to a brand’s identity. A brand that meets or exceeds a consumer’s expectations can end up adopted into a consumer’s life and shared with others. Consumers then can begin to see a part of themselves symbolized by the brand. For example, your favorite brand of beer, line of sportswear, cell phone or restaurant may have been introduced to you because each brand’s message and quality somehow clicked with you; however, certain brands become your “favorites” when you perceive them as somehow more integral than competing brands to your self-image, culture, creative expression or lifestyle.
For many consumers, when their family members or friends have adopted and trusted a brand, they are more likely to trust that brand as well and extend that trust to all products made by that brand, suggests a 2012 study by Rajdeep Grewal of Penn State's Smeal College of Business. Marketing that highlights the personality of the brand rather than product features or pricing speaks to those consumers more clearly, which can lead to greater brand championing and sales.
Digital interaction via smartphone apps allows marketers to build deeper connections with consumers than ever before. A branded app that provides information useful and relevant to consumers’ lives instills in those consumers greater appreciation of the brand sponsoring the app, according to a 2011 study by Indiana University professor Robert F. Potter. For example, the study found that an informational app sponsored by Target that offered product reviews proved to have more impact on consumer behavior and brand favorability than a game app sponsored by Gap. The effect of a brand that provides downloadable and interactive information on a category that its products fall under is that consumers begin to talk back to the brand by providing feedback, offering their own information and caring about the brand enough to support it and keep it on top.