Though brand image long has been recognised as an important concept in marketing (e.g., Gardner and Levy 1955), there is less agreement on its appropriate definition (Dobni and Zinkhan 1990). Consistent with definitions by Herzog (1963) and Newman (1957), among others, and an associative network memory model of brand knowledge, brand image is defined here as perceptions about a brand as reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory. Brand associations are the other informational nodes linked to the brand node in memory and contain the meaning of the brand for consumers. The favourability, strength, and uniqueness of brand associations are the dimensions distinguishing brand knowledge that play an important role in determining the differential response that makes up brand equity, especially in high involvement decision settings. Before considering those dimensions, it is useful to examine the different types of brand associations that may be present in consumer memory.
Brand associations take different forms. One way to distinguish among brand associations is by their level of abstraction (Alba and Hutchinson 1987; Chattopadhyay and Alba 1988; Johnson 1984; Russo and Johnson 1980)-that is, by how much information is summarised or subsumed in the association. Along this dimension, brand associations can be classified into three major categories of increasing scope: attributes, benefits, and attitudes. Several additional distinctions can be made within these categories according to the qualitative nature of the association.
Attributes are those descriptive features that characterise a product -what a consumer thinks the product is or has and what is involved with its purchase or consumption. Attributes can be categorised in a variety of ways (Myers and Shocker 1981).
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