Imagine describing your favorite brand as a person. Would they be sincere, rebellious, or perhaps exquisitely sophisticated? It may sound weird at first, but the truth is, every brand has a distinct personality. It’s these individual traits that allow customers to connect on a deep level, transforming them into loyal brand enthusiasts.
In this guide, we’ll help you uncover and refine your brand’s unique personality, ensuring it authentically reflects your voice and core values.
Brand personality refers to the unique personality traits of a brand. It’s about how the brand appears, what it communicates, and how it behaves, which determines how current and potential customers perceive it. Developing a brand personality is a deliberate strategy that helps companies establish a strong connection with their audience and create positive feelings.
In essence, think of your brand personality as the way your target audience would describe your brand if it were a person.
Brand personality is the secret ingredient that makes your brand stand out and connect with your audience. It gives your brand a unique characteristic that people can relate to, facilitating brand recognition and recall.
Imagine a world without brand personalities, where every company and product looks and feels the same. It would be pretty dull, right? That’s where brand personality steps in, adding that much-needed spice and excitement to the mix and making each brand distinct and interesting on its own.
But brand personality does more than just make your brand interesting. It also ensures consistency across all aspects of your business. It sets the tone for how you communicate with your audience and how you market your products or services.
Building trust and loyalty is another important aspect of brand personality. When your brand’s personality resonates with your target audience, it creates a sense of understanding and connection. This, in turn, leads to more sales and revenue as customers trust and feel loyal to your brand.
There’s a reason why customers are fiercely loyal to certain brands but detest other ones. Before you start crafting your own brand strategy, you need to understand the main characteristics of brand personality.
The Aaker method is the most popular brand personality scale in management literature. Developed by Jennifer Aaker, it provides companies with a blueprint of the five dimensions of brand personality—sincerest competence, excitement, sophistication, and ruggedness—helping them build a stronger brand.
The following are the five brand characteristics under the Aaker method:
- Sincerity: Sincere brands are not just honest and trustworthy, but also down-to-earth and positive. They go beyond ethical practices and genuinely care about the community, and prioritize consumer concerns. Example: Patagonia
- Excitement: Excited brands are bursting with imagination, constantly pushing boundaries and inspiring others. These exciting brands are always up-to-date and spirited, focused on making you feel ready to take on the world. Example: Nike
- Competence: When you think of competent brands, think of reliability, responsibility, and intelligence. They excel in delivering high-performance products or services and conduct themselves efficiently. You can count on them to get the job done right. Example: Apple
- Sophistication: Sophisticated brands are the epitome of luxury and refinement, upper-class elegance and charm. They exude prestige and leave a lasting impression with their impeccable style. Example: Rolex
- Ruggedness: Rugged brands are designed for those who crave exploration and a taste of rugged authenticity. These brands embody the great outdoors, toughness, and a touch of masculinity. Example: Timbaland
Psychologist Carl Jung believed humans rely on symbols to understand complex ideas. Drawing from this concept, he identified twelve universal and inherited personality archetypes that go beyond language, time, and culture.
By harnessing these archetypes, you can delve into your target audience’s subconscious and create a brand personality that forges deep, lasting connections with your audience.
Let’s explore the 12 brand archetypes proposed by Carl Jung:
- The Innocent: Radiates happiness, goodness, optimism, and the nostalgia of youth. These brands are like a refreshing sip of Coca-Cola or the pure simplicity of Dove.
- The Everyman: Embraces connections and belonging, known for being supportive, faithful, and down-to-earth. Think of brands like IKEA, where anyone can feel at home, or eBay, where everyone can find what they’re looking for.
- The Hero: Embodies courage, inspiration, and boldness. Just like Nike, pushing us to “Just Do It” or Duracell empowering us with long-lasting energy.
- The Rebel: Challenges authority and seeks revolution, representing non-conformity and breaking the rules. Brands like Virgin and Harley-Davidson embody the rebellious spirit and daring individuality.
- The Explorer: Finds inspiration in risk-taking and lives for the thrill of new experiences. Brands like Jeep and Red Bull ignite our sense of adventure and invite us to explore uncharted territories.
- The Creator: Driven by imagination and inventiveness, building things of enduring meaning and value. Think of Lego, the ultimate creative tool, or Adobe empowering digital creation.
- The Ruler: Brings order to chaos, representing control, responsibility, and professionalism. Brands like Mercedes-Benz and British Airways offer a sense of reliability, precision, and authority.
- The Magician: Transforms dreams into reality, inspiring us with visionary and spiritual experiences. Brands like Apple and Disney captivate us with their enchanting creations.
- The Lover: Ignites intimacy, romance, and unwavering commitment. Victoria’s Secret and Haagen Dazs seduce our senses, effectively transporting us into a world of desire.
- The Caregiver: Protects and nurtures others, personifying compassion and generosity. Brands like Johnson & Johnson and Campbell’s Soup show us the power of empathy and support.
- The Jester: Spreads joy through humor, fun, and mischief, bringing laughter and lightheartedness. Old Spice and M&Ms are the pranksters that tickle our funny bones and make us smile.
- The Sage: Offers wisdom and insight into worldly matters, acting as a thoughtful mentor or advisor. Brands like Google, PBS, and Philips guide us on a journey of knowledge and enlightenment.
Here’s how to build a brand personality for your business:
Step 1: Define Your Brand’s Mission Statement
Define your brand values and create a mission statement encapsulating its purpose. This will serve as the foundation to shape your brand’s personality and guide your business decisions. Look at successful businesses like IKEA (“To create a better everyday life for the many people”) and Tesla (“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”), whose mission statements align with their practices.
Step 2: Know Your Target Audience & Competition
Conduct thorough audience research to identify your ideal customers. Learn about their interests, preferences, and buying motivations to tailor your brand personality. Also, analyze your competitors’ strategies—research their website, social media, and customer feedback—to uncover market gaps and discover unique ways to fulfill customer needs.
Step 3: Capture Your Brand Personality
Capture your brand’s essence by putting its personality traits on paper. Choose 3-5 adjectives that best represent your business. Visualize your brand as a person, complete with likes, dislikes, and appearance. Consider the language and tone that will resonate with your audience.
Step 4: Establish A Brand Style Guide
Develop a brand style guide that outlines your brand’s visual identity like logo, fonts, color palette, and imagery. Ensure that these elements reflect your brand personality and appeal to your audience. Be sure to select colors that align with your brand’s dimensions, such as blues, browns, greens, and grays for competence or reds, oranges, and blues for excitement.
Step 5: Maintain Consistency
Consistency is key to building a strong brand. Stick to your chosen brand personality, fonts, colors, and imagery to establish recognition and connect with your audience. At the same time, remain open to feedback and be willing to make adjustments if necessary to continuously improve your brand’s resonance.
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. exudes sophistication, elegance, and prestige. A quick look at their website shows the serene “Tiffany” blue and white color scheme, setting the stage for its high-end jewelry. Thoughtfully crafted messaging like “unparalleled craftsmanship” and “legacy of brilliance” further elevate the brand’s opulent personality.
Hallmark epitomizes sincerity as a brand, successfully embodying its caring and positive traits. From heartfelt greeting cards to touching movies, their product lines are thoughtfully designed to foster emotional connections and create a more compassionate world.
Airbnb, the hospitality giant, has skyrocketed to a multi-billion dollar valuation by curating unparalleled experiences for its guests. And its brand personality, classified as Aaker’s ‘Excitement,’ is at the heart of its success.
One of the brand’s most captivating endeavors is the ‘Live There’ campaign, which brilliantly showcases Airbnb’s carefree, youthful, and spirited essence. This ingenious initiative cleverly juxtaposes the conventional touristy aspects of travel with Airbnb’s commitment to offering an unconventional and authentic way of exploring new destinations.