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Branding

  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Brand Loyalty
  3. Brand Extension
  4. Brand Personality
  5. Brand Management
  6. Branding

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Brand Personality: Definition & Examples

Updated: November 17, 2022

Branding is a huge part of running a business. When you create your business’s brand, a lot of time and effort go into the process. Often, with larger companies, you’ll hear people refer to brand personality. 

Developing a brand personality is an important step in the branding process. If you’re currently in the process of creating your brand and want to connect to your audience on a deeper level, keep reading. This article contains everything you need to know about brand personality.

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    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • A brand personality is made up of the human traits that usually come through in marketing, values, and the types of customers the company targets. 
    • There are five distinct brand personalities. A brand can embody more than one. 
    • Personifying your brand and developing a set of standards to abide by can help nail down which personality you’re going for. While standards are important the business should stay flexible just like a normal personality.

    What is Brand Personality?

    Brand personality is a term that pertains to the human characteristics of a brand. An effective brand personality creates a persona for the business. So you might be able to imagine having a nice chat with the brand itself or its mascot. Some of the most famous brands in the world each have a distinct personality. So in a sense, you’re able to relate to them like you would with a human personality. 

    Brand personalities vary based on the company developing them. The personality of an extreme sports company is going to be different from the personality of a culinary company. For a brand to be successful, a brand personality has to resonate with the right target audiences. When this happens, it improves brand awareness and the business as a whole.

    Why is Brand Personality Important?

    Brand personality influences just about everything related to a company’s brand. A brand’s tone of voice, marketing materials, and advertisements are all influenced by its established personality. 

    Additionally, brand personality helps a brand find its ideal customers. The ideal customer for any brand is someone who identifies with the brand story and the personality traits it embodies. Sometimes brands might look to establish personality traits that their target customer wants for themselves. 

    Other brands might look to craft a compelling brand story that helps their customers build a strong connection to the brand and its products. This not only allows you to share the why behind your business model but also appeals to people and personalizes your business.

    Without a strong brand personality, a company may have trouble finding and attracting its target audience. This negatively impacts sales, as well as customer retention. It plays a crucial part in

    • Marketing campaigns
    • Increasing brand equity
    • Creating brand-loyal customers

    It is also important to note that the stronger a brand’s personality, the better brand awareness the company has. When you have an easily identifiable personality for your brand, more people are likely to gravitate towards it. They’ll also be able to spot it, even if your advertisements are vague or minimal.

    Different Brand Personalities

    When discussing brand personalities, you’ll find that five main types can be identified. Each personality comes with a set of human personality traits that define it. When looking at the marketing materials for a company with an established brand, these traits are easy to identify.

    Excitement

    Many companies have an exciting brand personality. Many of them are in the sports, outdoors, or automotive industries. Brands that identify with the excitement personality tend to display the following common traits:

    • Passion
    • Adventure
    • Daring
    • Imagination
    • Boldness
    • Enthusiasm 

    Seeing marketing materials from these companies is meant to spark customers to do exciting things. They portray exciting lives and activities that customers might imagine themselves doing. 

    Sincerity

    Any company that focuses on the importance of family is displaying a sincere personality type. Sincere brands are heartfelt, and they will “tug at the heartstrings” of their target customers. The core traits of a brand focusing on sincerity are:

    • Kindness
    • Thoughtfulness
    • Family values
    • Honesty
    • Authenticity
    • Wholesomeness

    Brands that focus on sincerity tend to be family-friendly and endorse time spent with loved ones. These brands present an image of wholesomeness and usually stay far away from anything edgy, adventurous, or crude. 

    Ruggedness

    Often, you’ll find that companies with rugged brand personalities are a bit exciting, as well. These two areas overlap quite a bit. Still, there is a distinct difference between ruggedness and excitement. Ruggedness lends itself to the following personality traits:

    • Toughness
    • Athleticism
    • Outdoorsy
    • Resilience
    • Strength
    • Reliable

    Many of the rugged brands you’ll find focus on the quality of their products. They’re “field-tested” and will stand up to just about anything. This may appeal to a male audience most times but in recent years the marketing has become more inclusive. 

    Sophistication

    Sophistication lends itself to luxurious traits. Many luxury brands want to portray their brand personality as being sophisticated. In reality, sophistication is one of the hardest brand personalities to pull off. The traits related to sophistication are:

    • Elegance
    • Composure
    • Worldliness
    • Prestigious
    • Classy
    • Pretentious

    This brand plays into the audience’s desire to be sophisticated, as well. Though pretentious is usually a negative trait, it works very well for brands with sophisticated personalities. This might also include an air of exclusivity. 

    Competence

    The final brand personality is competence. Younger brands tend to have a hard time pulling off a competent personality. That’s because competence requires years, if not decades, of reliability and knowledge. Some of the most famous brands that now have a competent personality have had to slowly develop the brand to reflect that. The core traits of competence are:

    • Reliable
    • Dependable
    • Intelligent
    • Principled
    • Successful
    • Conscientious 

    Small businesses have a hard time coming off as competent most of the time. Only the most established companies that have built trust in their customer base can make this one work. With competent brands, you expect reliability and intelligence. 

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    Establishing Your Brand’s Personality

    Now that you have an idea of the five main brand personalities, you can start developing your own. One of the most effective ways to start building the personality of a brand is to develop an effective brand story. 

    This can tie in the values, and traits you’re aiming for as well as create an emotional connection with your ideal consumer. Many times this aligns with the mission statement of a company.

    Some personalities, as previously discussed, are harder to establish than others. Thankfully there are concise steps for establishing a brand personality.

    Step 1: Think About Your Values

    A brand’s personality centers around the most important values to a business or business owner. Because your brand is emulating a person, you have to view your business as one. 

    Answering these questions can help you begin to form your business personality:

    • What does your business care about? 
    • What are you trying to accomplish? 
    • What does your business stand for? 

    You should be able to refer to your business’s mission statement to answer these questions.

    Your brand’s values must reflect those of your target audience. If you’re not sure what your target audience values, it’s time to do some target market research. This can help you narrow down your brand’s values, and start to develop its personality.

    In the ever-evolving world of marketing strategies, consumers have learned to tune out empty value statements that don’t seem genuine. Instead, they go for the companies that have a clear mission, purpose, and commitment to what’s important. 

    Obviously, this is going to be different based on what your company values. But the values you choose to represent should also be important to your target customer. They should be woven into how you do business. For example, if your company values sustainability and green living, it wouldn’t make sense to sell products that contribute to the plastic waste problem. 

    Step 2: Refer to Your Audience

    If you’ve got a loyal customer base, then you can base your brand personality on them. Imagine how your target customer uses your product. What type of events would they attend? What societal roles do they take on? 

    By creating a personality that appeals to customers that you already have, you can hope to attract your dream customers. Establishing a brand personality is all about relating to the people who are supporting your business. 

    When thinking about your customer base, be sure to consider their:

    • Preferences
    • Behaviors
    • Expectations
    • Values

    To build upon these, you can ask yourself several helpful questions, which are listed below. 

    • Is my audience looking for affordability or luxury?
    • Are they emotional or logical?
    • What matters to them when they are purchasing products?
    • What do they do for fun?
    • What are they interested in?
    • What don’t they care about?

    As you answer these, you start to build a personality for your brand. In theory, this should make it easier to narrow down a single personality to focus on. Feel free to play around with these answers to find the personality that works best for your brand. 

    Step 3: Personify Your Brand

    It’s time to start thinking about your brand as if it were a person. The goal is for your customers to build a strong connection to the brand. You want your brand personality to reflect how you’d like your company to be perceived. 

    A well-developed brand personality may feel like you can sit down and have lunch with the brand or its mascot. Ask yourself questions about what your brand would do if they were suddenly human. This helps you bring the personality to life. 

    • How does my brand act in public?
    • What does it do for fun?
    • How does it interact with its friends?
    • What causes my brand to behave the way that it does?

    There’s a heavy psychological aspect to building a brand personality, and you have to treat it like it’s a living breathing thing.

    Step 4: Write a Brand Style Guide

    At this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of what your brand’s personality is. As such, there are certain ways that your brand should typically behave. There are also things that your brand should never do. 

    It’s important to write these down for yourself, as well as your employees. A set of guidelines like this is usually referred to as a brand style guide. It’s especially helpful when communicating expectations to a marketing team, and social media managers. A well thought out style guide lays out rules surrounding: 

    • Tone of voice
    • Color scheme
    • Formatting
    • Dos and don’ts
    • Imagery guidelines
    • Fonts
    • Customer service guidelines

    By setting the rules for how your brand operates based on the traits and characteristics you’ve decided on you’re creating a consistent personality. This makes it recognizable to your ideal customers even when you add new products or make other big changes. 

    Step 5: Be Flexible

    As your brand grows, it is going to change. As your brand changes, it’s important to make sure that its personality changes, too. This is especially true for brand personalities that aim for competence. 

    Although you’ve established guidelines for your brand in hope of building a consistent personality, it’s important not to let that overshadow the changes and shifts that your company must make to stay successful. 

    Your brand’s personality should be able to adjust to what your customers need, want, and expect. The same way that a real person will adjust and change over time. Your customers go through different life phases and transitions too. When you’ve built a loyal customer base, you want to meet them where they are to continue inspiring loyalty. 

    Some of the largest brands in the world have changed how they show up. That means your business can too. It all depends on the direction your brand is moving in, and what your customers expect. If you can adapt your brand’s personality to those two things, you’ll always be recognizable.

    Examples of Brands and Their Personalities

    Below you’ll find some well-known brands, as well as the type of personality they have.

    • Excitement: Red Bull, Nike, Tesla
    • Sincerity: Disney, Hallmark, Dove
    • Ruggedness: Subaru, REI, Jeep
    • Sophistication: Gucci, Apple, Rolex
    • Competence: Volvo, Amazon, Google

    Some of these examples might fall into more than one category. For example, Tesla has a brand personality that focuses on excitement but it might also have aspects of sophistication like Apple or Rolex. Something similar happens with Jeep. While their brand is based on ruggedness, there’s also a sense of excitement that comes through in their marketing that’s similar to Redbull and Nike. 

    It can be helpful to focus on one of these personality types when you’re getting started. As you progress, you can integrate other personality types into your brand to attract the target customer you’re looking for.

    Summary

    All in all, a brand’s personality is the way that its customers perceive it. Brand personalities can be developed and changed over time to reflect their customer base. If you’re building a brand, it’s crucial to develop a personality alongside it. Not doing so could result in lower sales, and decreased customer loyalty. This personality is how the brand represents itself and relates to customers.

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    FAQs About Brand Personalities

    How do brand personalities appeal to customers?

    Brand personalities provide something for customers to relate to. They aim to create an emotional connection between the customer and the company.

    Can a brand have more than one personality?

    Yes. Brands often have personalities that overlap with one another. For example, Jeep can be considered rugged and exciting.

    What is brand personality scale?

    The brand personality scale was developed in 1997 by Jennifer Aaker to measure brand personality. The five dimensions of brand personality are sincerity, competence, excitement, sophistication and ruggedness.

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