Many people confuse brand personality with brand values. While these two compliment each other, they are not the same. Brand values are the things your brand stands for, whether it be transparency or quality, or innovation, etc. These are the principles that your brand is determined to uphold.
A brand personality is similar to that of a person’s. It is the combination of human characteristics or qualities that form the brand’s distinctive character. A brand’s personality influences how consumers feel about the brand and has the power to attract consumers and make their experience with the brand memorable. These qualities should be consistent across all mediums and platforms in order to be truly effective.
If our relationships with brands so closely mirror those with our fellow humans, shouldn’t we think of brands as people?– Ignyte
There are five main brand personality types to consider when building your own.
Competence evokes reliability, experience, proficiency, skillfulness, and expertise. A tried and true brand like Google is an example of this. Microsoft Office suite used to be the go-to office software for most people. Nowadays, Google Drive seems to be the go-to office software because of it convenience and ease of use. Not to mention the fact that it’s free.
When composing a document on Google Docs, Sheets or Slides, the document is automatically saved as you make changes. Additionally, you can pick up where you left off on any device. If that doesn’t scream reliability and proficiency, I don’t know what does.
Sincerity includes traits such as genuineness, goodwill, and trustworthiness. I personally, think of Whole Foods and Amazon. And it’s no surprise that Amazon decided to acquire Whole Foods in 2017. The Whole Foods brand markets itself as having high quality standards. It prides itself on the vibrant stacks of produce, animal welfare rated meat, responsibly farmed and sustainable wild-caught seafood and body care products with ingredients that consumers can trust. Since what you see is what you get, buyers feel a greater sense of trust toward the brand.
When we think of sophistication, we often think of cultured, refined, elegance and class. Designer brands such as Chanel and Dior are prime examples of a sophisticated brand personality. They exude elegance and status, which draws in customers who are attracted to those traits.
Common traits of excitement are exhilaration, emotion, thrill and enjoyment. Oftentimes, those characteristics are also associated with youth. Universal Parks & Resorts uses thrilling commercials and showcases an image of being joyful with it’s current “Let Yourself Woah” slogan (as of 2020).
Strength, grit, and athleticism are all traits of ruggedness. Recreational Equipment, Inc., commonly known as REI, a company that believes a life outdoors is a life well-lived, serves as a good example of ruggedness. REI, sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment, and clothing.
Now that we’ve defined some brand personality types and traits, how can you build your own brand personality?
Know Your Demographic
Once you’ve figured out what your passion is, you need to develop it into a brand. An essential part of building your brand is knowing who the brand is for. Your brand’s personality should cater to the customer. Who is your product or service for, and what will they find attractive? Identify who your average consumer is and what they are like and build a personality that’s relatable to them. A good brand personality should connect emotionally with the customer.
Old Spice, for example, uses ruggedness to appeal to their demographic of young men. The face of their brand, the Old Spice guy, is typically an attractive, muscular man. The brand uses what are viewed as traditionally masculine traits to appeal to its consumers. The Old Spice guy is aspirational—he’s suave, he’s fit, and he’s manly. While the people who use Old Spice tend to be young men, the brand has also strategically tried to attract women with campaigns like “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” since women are more likely to do household shopping.
Brand personality traits provide a general idea of how to reach your target demographic, but make sure to really zero in on who your customer is.
For example, once you’ve identified your target as millennial women, consider the fact that millennials have increasingly expressed interest in a brand’s values and authenticity. Love Beauty and Planet, Unilever’s personal care brand that launched in 2017, targets socially aware millennials. The brand markets vegan and cruelty-free products that are environmentally conscious at a time when interest in natural products is growing.
Differentiate Your Brand Personality From the Competition
When developing a brand personality, take stock of your competition. A good way to build a successful brand personality is by capitalizing on what makes you different from other brands in your market.
Let’s re-examine the brand Love Beauty and Planet. Many personal care brands exist, such as Dove, Pantene, and the like. Additionally, other natural and cruelty-free products exist, but at a higher price. However, the brand’s target audience will trust it more because of its commitment to vegan, cruelty-free, and environmentally conscious practices. Its brand personality emphasizes these qualities in a way competitors at the same price don’t.
An effective brand personality extends to a brand’s design and behavior. Most people can easily identify an Apple product by its once-bitten apple logo. And like the logo, the design of the product is simple, clean, and sophisticated.
A brand’s behavior on social media influences the way people see it. A small, trendy jewelry store might utilize Instagram because visual platforms work particularly well for jewelry. It gives the brand a chance to convey the glamour and sophistication of its products.
The way a brand interacts with customers on social media can increase its appeal as well. For example, customers notice when a brand cares about their experience with a product or service and can sense that sincerity in social media interactions.
Building an effective brand personality is essential to attracting loyal customers. Customers who feel a connection with your brand will stay with you. By knowing your demographic, differentiating yourself from the competition, and staying consistent, you can develop a successful brand personality.