Just as we build connections with like-minded people, your brand has the power to create lasting relationships with its audience. By aligning your brand personality with your audience’s personality and values, you can create lasting bonds akin to friendships.
This article clarifies what brand personality is, explores its benefits for your business, and gives advice on how to cultivate a distinct brand personality.
What Is Brand Personality?
Brand personality is a set of human characteristics assigned to a brand, consistent with its mission and values.
It’s the personality your brand projects outward, creating a distinct identity and shaping how consumers perceive and interact with it.
Like people, brands can exhibit specific personality traits that evoke certain emotions, attitudes, and behaviours. These characteristics shine through all brand experiences, such as brand messaging, visual identity, and tone of voice.
Brand personality can vary depending on the industry, target audience, and brand positioning.
The Psychology Behind Brand Personality
In the 1950s, sociologists coined the term ‘homophily’ (love of sameness). It describes how people are attracted to and form relationships with others who share similar traits, interests, beliefs, values, and backgrounds.
Well, this concept applies not just to people, but also to brands.
People are naturally drawn to brands that reflect their personalities. Consumers tend to choose brands that align with their self-image and values, as it provides a sense of self-expression and identity reinforcement.
For example, a study found that customers with extroverted personalities prefer brands with active personalities, while those with conscientious personalities favour responsible brands.
Another study found that brands with distinct personalities have a more significant influence in establishing trust and fostering loyalty among consumers.
Brands that communicate a distinct personality are more likely to stand out in a crowded market and create a unique connection with their audience.
How Your Business Benefits From a Strong Brand Personality
Having a strong brand personality can bring numerous benefits to your business. Here are some compelling reasons why your brand can thrive by having a well-defined brand personality:
A unique brand personality sets the business apart from competitors, positioning the brand as distinct and giving it an edge over competitors.
A well-crafted brand personality creates a deep emotional connection with your customers, fostering a sense of loyalty and affinity towards your brand.
Consistency and Trust
When your brand consistently embodies its personality, it builds trust with customers, establishing credibility and reliability.
Engaging Brand Storytelling
A strong brand personality provides a platform for captivating storytelling, enabling you to engage your audience and create memorable experiences.
The 12 Brand Archetypes
Brand archetypes, inspired by psychologist Carl Jung’s theory, can serve as a valuable tool in defining your brand personality.
Although I don’t heavily rely on them, brand archetypes can offer a framework for understanding and shaping your brand’s identity and personality.
You might find brand archetypes somewhat simplistic, and I understand that. But when you start combining two or more archetypes, it opens up some possibilities.
I won’t delve into details here. There is a wealth of information available on this subject.
Here’s a brief overview of the 12 brand archetypes:
|The Innocent||Represents purity, simplicity, and goodness.||Dove, Innocent Drinks, Volvo|
|The Everyman||Emphasises being down-to-earth, genuine, and relatable.||IKEA, Budweiser, Subaru|
|The Hero||Portrays strength, bravery, and the desire to overcome challenges.||Nike, Under Armour, GoPro|
|The Outlaw||Represents rebellion, nonconformity, and breaking the rules.||Harley-Davidson, Diesel, Virgin|
|The Explorer||Emphasises discovery, adventure, and the desire to explore new territories.||The North Face, National Geographic, Jeep|
|The Creator||Focuses on innovation, creativity, and expressing individuality.||Lego, 3M, Adobe|
|The Ruler||Represents power, authority, and leadership.||Rolex, Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz|
|The Magician||Portrays transformation, enchantment, and creating extraordinary experiences.||Disney, Red Bull, Lush|
|The Lover||Emphasises intimacy and passion.||Victoria’s Secret, Henry Rose, Swarovski|
|The Caregiver||Focuses on nurturing, empathy, and providing support and care.||World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, Pampers|
|The Jester||Portrays humour, fun, and bringing joy to people’s lives.||M&M’s, Old Spice, Fanta|
|The Sage||Represents wisdom, knowledge, and guiding others.||Google, Wikipedia, The New York Times|
The Five Dimensions of Brand Personality
In 1997, marketing professor and branding expert Jessica Aaker revolutionised the understanding of brand personality by introducing the concept of the Five Dimensions.
These dimensions offer a framework for evaluating and defining the unique personality traits that make a brand distinct. They include:
Sincere brands are honest, trustworthy, and committed to ethical practices. They prioritise customer relationships, support their employees, and contribute to the community and the environment.
The Body Shop is an example. The brand stands strongly against animal testing, promotes fair trade with its ingredient sourcing, and actively supports social and environmental campaigns.
Excitement-driven brands are daring, lively, and innovative. They strive to create a sense of thrill and adventure, appealing to customers who seek stimulation, inspiration and novelty.
GoPro embodies this brand personality trait with its strong association with extreme sports, outdoor activities, and adrenaline-filled experiences.
Competent brands are perceived as reliable, intelligent, and capable. They prioritize quality, expertise, and efficiency to instil confidence and trust in their customers.
An example of a brand that exemplifies competence is Microsoft. With its robust software solutions and technological advancements, Microsoft has established itself as a leader in the tech industry.
Sophisticated brands are characterised by elegance, prestige, and charm. They captivate consumers who appreciate refinement, taste, and a touch of luxury.
A good example of a sophisticated brand is Rolex. Renowned for its exquisite and prestigious watches, Rolex stands for precision, craftsmanship, and exclusivity.
Brands that embody ruggedness are seen as tough, strong, and adventurous. They specifically target individuals who crave a wild, resilient, and outdoorsy lifestyle.
A notable example of a brand that exemplifies ruggedness is Patagonia. With a focus on outdoor apparel and gear, Patagonia appeals to adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Here is a quick summary:
|Brand Personality Trait||Sub-Traits||Examples|
|Sincerity||Genuine, Honest, Wholesome||The Honest Company, Toms, Dove|
|Excitement||Daring, Spirited, Adventurous||Red Bull, GoPro, Tesla|
|Competence||Reliable, Intelligent, Trustworthy||IBM, Google, Michelin|
|Sophistication||Elegant, Luxurious, Prestigious||Chanel, Rolex, Ritz-Carlton|
|Ruggedness||Strong, Tough, Outdoorsy||Harley-Davidson, Jeep, The North Face|
Brand Personality Is Not One-Dimensional
Just like people, brands shouldn’t settle for just one personality trait. That would make them quite bland. Instead, brands show a mix of different traits that make each brand special and unique.
Let’s take Patagonia as an example again.
The brand embodies ruggedness, catering to adventurous individuals who crave wild experiences. But they also show sincere traits, prioritising sustainability and ethical practices in their business operations.
On top of that, Patagonia showcases competence through their high-quality products and expertise in outdoor gear. They continuously innovate and develop gear that meets the needs of outdoor enthusiasts.
By blending these personality traits, you can create a distinct brand identity. Ultimately, it’s all about forging an emotional connection and standing out.
But just like people, brands can have different traits that are more or less pronounced depending on the context. For example, your brand might have a serious tone on LinkedIn, but a more lighthearted personality on TikTok.
Brand Personality Mapping
When defining your brand personality, it can be useful to create a personality map to visualise where your brand falls on a spectrum of traits.
You have several options. Use Jessica Aaker’s brand personality traits or archetypes, or create your own set of specific characteristics. Map them on a slider, a quadrant chart or a spider chart.
The most common way is the brand personality slider. It helps you visualise your brand personality traits on a spectrum. It’s a simple and intuitive way to map each characteristic compared to another one.
Define Your Brand Personality
Understand Your Brand
Start by gaining a deep understanding of what your brand is all about. Define its purpose, mission, vision, and values. This will help you establish a solid foundation for building your brand personality.
- What is your brand about?
- What does it value?
- How can it change the world?
- If your brand was a person, who would it be?
Identify Your Target Audience
Conduct thorough research to understand the demographics and psychographics of your target audience. Gain insights into their preferences, behaviours, and aspirations. This understanding will guide you in shaping your brand personality to resonate with your intended audience.
- What personality traits do they have?
- What do they value and how do your brand’s values align?
- How do they talk?
- What do they talk about?
- Who are their friends?
- What other brands do they buy?
Understand Your Target Market and Competition
Conduct market research to gather insights about your target market and competition. Analyse trends, competitor strategies, and market dynamics. This information will inform your brand personality by helping you identify gaps and opportunities to differentiate.
- Who are your competitors?
- What do they stand for?
- Are there gaps in the market?
- How can your brand stand out?
- What’s its unique position in the market?
Choose Brand Attributes
Choose the specific traits and attributes that represent your brand personality. These can include characteristics like adventurous, trustworthy, innovative, or playful. Select traits that align with your brand values and are relevant to your target audience.
- Which traits best represent your brand’s personality?
- Which characteristics resonate with your target audience?
- How do these traits align with your brand values?
- How can these traits differentiate your brand from competitors?
Apply Your Brand Personality
To effectively apply and evolve your brand personality, consider the following steps:
Craft Your Brand Identity
Develop a distinctive verbal and visual identity for your brand. Develop a brand voice and design a logo that reflects your brand personality. Choose brand colours, fonts, and imagery that align with your brand.
Tell Compelling Brand Stories
Use brand storytelling techniques to convey your brand personality and values. Create narratives that resonate with your target audience and evoke emotional connections.
Maintain Brand Consistency
Consistency is key in reinforcing your brand personality. Ensure that customer interactions, both online and offline, consistently reflect your brand’s desired personality traits.
Establish brand guidelines that outline how your brand personality is expressed across various channels and touchpoints.
Monitor and refine
Regularly monitor and evaluate the consistency of your brand personality.
Gather feedback from customers, analyse data, and make necessary refinements to ensure your brand remains relevant and resonates with your audience.
Brand Personality Examples
Oatly: Quirky, Authentic, Sustainable
Oatly, the Swedish oat milk brand has successfully developed a brand personality that is quirky, authentic, and sustainable. With their playful and irreverent tone, they connect with their audience in a fun and engaging way.
Oatly’s brand values are centred around sustainability and making environmentally-friendly choices, which they express in a rebellious and unconventional manner.
This unique brand personality has contributed to its strong connection with consumers and its positioning as a leader in the plant-based milk industry.
Even Oatly’s website is unconventional.
Allbirds: Innovative, Eco-conscious, Relatable
Allbirds, the renowned footwear brand, showcases an innovative and eco-conscious brand personality. With a strong focus on sustainability, Allbirds is positioned as a brand that prioritises the environment without sacrificing style and comfort.
The brand messaging and visuals exude simplicity and relatability, appealing to consumers who seek ethically-made products.
By combining its commitment to eco-consciousness with its dedication to producing comfortable shoes, Allbirds has successfully carved a niche for itself in the market and gained a loyal customer base, see for yourself.
Lululemon: Aspirational, Empowering, Active
Lululemon, the popular athletic apparel brand, projects an aspirational and empowering brand personality. It inspires its customers to live active, healthy lifestyles while embracing self-improvement and personal growth.
Lululemon’s brand messaging emphasises mindfulness, and pushing boundaries, resonating with people seeking high-performance activewear and a sense of community.
Airbnb: Welcoming, Adventurous, Connected
Airbnb embodies a welcoming and adventurous brand personality. They emphasise the idea of belonging and offer unique travel experiences that connect people from different cultures.
Airbnb’s brand messaging promotes the idea of exploration, cultural immersion, and building meaningful connections through travel.
Have a look at the Airbnb website. Notice how user-friendly and welcoming it is?
Tesla: Innovative, Cutting-edge, Sustainable
Tesla represents an innovative and cutting-edge brand personality. It revolutionises the automotive industry with its advanced electric vehicles and sustainable energy solutions.
Tesla’s brand messaging emphasises technological innovation, environmental consciousness, and a futuristic vision of transportation.
Have a look at the Tesla website.
Your brand’s personality plays a major role in shaping consumer perceptions and fostering connections.
Through understanding and leveraging your brand’s personality, you can effectively communicate your values, engage customers authentically, and create a memorable brand experience.
It is a powerful tool and can help your brand stand out in a crowded market, foster customer loyalty, and drive long-term success.
Title image by Angela Roma on Pexels