Human brands and their brand extensions: A reconceptualization and empirical examination of the predictive power of authenticity
Osorio Andrade, María Lucila
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Human brands have proven their relevance in contemporary society and are gaining academic relevance as well. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore human branding research from a strategic brand management perspective and offer an empirical examination of authenticity as a key attribute of human brands. Specifically, four objectives are addressed: 1) Provide a novel conceptualization of human brands and establish a clear differentiation between them and other terms that refer to the branding of individuals; 2) Explore the state of human branding research in the light of a strategic brand management process; 3) Build and test a conceptual framework in which authenticity takes a central role to predict human brand extensions success; and 4) Test that framework cross-culturally in order to identify possible cultural moderators in consumers’ response to human brands’ initiatives. Study 1 further conceptualized human brands and established a distinction between them and personal brands. Then, it explored extant research on human brands in the light of a strategic brand management framework and identified gaps in the knowledge that indicate new research avenues. Study 2 demonstrated the predictive power of brand extension authenticity, its interplay with brand extension fit and idol attachment as predictors of product valuation of human brand extensions and identified boundary conditions in relation to the product type: functional or hedonic. The objectives were achieved using survey data (N=646) analyzed with OLS regressios. These unique antecedents of brand extension success allowed the researcher to distinguish product typology boundaries, as well as identify implications relevant to human brands and their managers. Study 3 examined the impact of cultural differences in the human brand extension model where brand extension fit, brand extension authenticity and selfbrand connection are deemed as antecedents of product valuation of both functional and hedonic brand extensions. This was achieved through the analysis of the conceptual model with survey data using structural equation modeling (SEM). Findings revealed that brand extension authenticity is a reliable and consistent antecedent of brand extension success across cultures and product types.