When people say they love a brand, they’re not merely referring to the product or service. They’re talking about several attributes that collectively make them feel good about the brand. Those features together are what create a brand personality.
That’s what makes some brands seem innovative and playful while others come across as conservative and subdued. Some seem welcoming and inclusive while others are exclusive. Those brands may never have stated that they are creative or traditional in so many words but consumers believe those to be their personalities.
Brand personalities are what consumers are primarily attracted to and what businesses should carefully build and invest in. That’s because most buying decisions are never rational. According to a Harvard study, 95% of all purchasing decisions happen in the subconscious mind, without the individual being completely aware of them.
What sways perceptions in the subconscious mind is the emotional response a brand evokes. This isn’t different from how people perceive others. The way most people have gut instincts about others is similar to how they develop subjective perceptions about brands. So, for your brand to be successful, whether it’s in the B2C or B2B space, it needs to have a convincing brand personality.
What is brand personality?
Brand personality is the set of characteristics a brand evokes in a consumer’s mind. If someone were to describe a brand, all the adjectives they use would define the brand personality of that brand. A brand personality helps to differentiate the brand and make it unique from its competitors.
Put simply, brand personality is how people would describe your brand if it were a person. Would they describe your brand to be bold, friendly, adventurous, young, old, or serious? Whether it’s a tech brand or a neighbourhood coffee house, a brand personality is how people describe the brand using human characteristics.
It’s different from brand identity, which comprises the name, logo, typeface, tone, character, and brand message. While the identity of the brand is what the business determines and sends out, brand personality is what happens as the result of all those in people’s minds. It’s what helps brands create an emotional connection with their consumers.
In other words, brand personality is the vibe that a brand creates.
Categories don’t determine brand personalities. Two brands in the same sector can have completely different brand personalities, like Apple and Samsung or Nike and Adidas. Consumers can describe two identical fast-food chains in completely different ways. This underscores the role of brand personality in differentiation.
This question is important even if you have never wondered about your brand’s personality. That’s because your brand may have a personality without you being aware of it. This is another reason why, if you’re a business owner, founder, or even a freelancer, you need to create a strong brand personality.
How to create a strong brand personality
Brand personality offers an opportunity to create attributes that can determine how people will feel about the brand. It’s how you can make the brand seem distinct and relatable to consumers. But what attributes would you want in your brand personality?
Brand personalities can be categorized into five dimensions, as per the behavioural scientist and The General Atlantic Professor at Stanford, Jennifer Aaker. These dimensions have their own characteristics and strengths which can guide you in creating a brand personality.
These are brands that are trusted, kind, honest, and warm. Consumers associate these brands with traditional family values that stand the test of time. Their customers love brands that associate themselves with this personality. Hallmark is one of the best examples of this trait.
These brands are carefree, imaginative, and dynamic. They are perceived to be young and playful, regardless of their age. They always look to create out-of-the-box marketing campaigns. Examples include Virgin Atlantic and Airbnb.
This signals authority, expertise, intelligence, and success. These are brands that want to be seen as industry leaders and showcase their commitment to quality. These are brands that customers choose when they want quality. Apple is a prime example of this dimension.
Refined, exclusive, influential, and supremely elegant, these are brands that are perceived to be several levels above the rest. This helps them command a premium. Some of the common examples of brands synonymous with this trait include luxury brands like Hermes and Tiffany.
Rooted in the outdoors, these brands are close to nature. Customers believe these brands to be real, unpretentious, and powerful. A classic example would be Timberland that has consistently evoked the feel of the outdoors. Land Rover has also been successful in using this trait.
Best practices while creating a brand personality
Define the traits: You should define your desired brand personality traits, keeping in mind the above dimensions. You should strive to focus on either one or two of these traits. The easiest way to understand the traits is to see your brand as a person and describe the qualities.
Tie it to your customers: The personality you choose for your brand should resonate with your core group of customers. For this, you should know who your customers are and what they want and then tailor the characteristics accordingly.
Understand the competition: It’s important to understand the brand personalities of your key competitors and how consumers are reacting to them. This will give you category codes that you can incorporate or reject.
Be consistent: Once you know your brand personality and the defining dimension(s) of your brand, you must be consistent across all communication points. Every touch-point for your consumer, from the logo to billboards to the website to social media, should reflect the brand personality.
Developing a brand personality will take time. The important thing is to be aware of the key traits and communicate those through all platforms. Periodic market research will also throw light on any inconsistencies or opportunities that you may have missed. Finally, brand personality should be the guiding light when you think of brand extensions through product launches.