Branding, Guidance, Identity, Strategy

Does your brand have a personality?

And, more to the point, is it one people will like, relate to and develop loyalty to? It might seem like stating the obvious but we’ll state it anyway – it’s probably safe to say we all find people who lack personality dull and unengaging. And the same goes for personality-free brands.

Or in the words of Arek Dvornechuck on some time ago, ‘It’s better to be a jerk than have no personality – at least by being a jerk you’d be interesting…’. Rather less controversially, the same author also points out that people want to see the humanity in a business and that an engaging brand personality enables them to do just that. 

First things first, though – we need to be clear about what we actually mean by a brand’s personality. Contrary to what many people believe, it’s not just your logo and your slogan or strapline. Yes, they’re important elements in it – but they’re just two features and it takes much more than that to create a unique, expressive and engaging face.

It’s the integrity of a brand’s personality that inspires loyalty through trust – and a fake just won’t cut it

Nor is a brand personality fake. OK, you could argue that the aura you build around your brand is, by definition, manufactured – but we’d argue back that there’s nothing ‘fake’ about creating something – especially if it (and you) have integrity. It’s the integrity of a brand’s personality that inspires loyalty through trust – and a fake just won’t cut it, any more than the ‘knock off’ Rolex you bought in Thailand for a tenner will convince anyone (even if it tells the time just as well as the real thing).

As the term suggests, a brand’s personality is all about being a likeable and attractive ‘person’ to the people you want to like your brand. Because we tend to like people we have a lot in common with – or we who aspire to being like – and the same goes for the brands we warm to and grow to love. With this in mind, it’s great to work with an agency that is passionate about using impeccable branding as a vehicle for your business growth and creating a brand identity that stands out in your field.

Yes, of course, that distinctive visual identity and associated words make the brand instantly recognisable – but to truly set your brand apart and make it unique you need to create an emotional connection – communicate with ‘your people’ on a more profound, more meaningful and intuitive level. And that’s not just marketing waffle – as Arek Dvornechuck points out, a research institute’s two-year study of 100,000 retail customers showed that “emotionally connected customers have a 306 percent higher lifetime value”.

Once you truly know who your brand is; really understand its character, that personality can shine through and inspire the tone, style and attitude of every facet of every communication across every medium. So, how do you know a) whether your brand has a personality and b) if not, how to endow it with one and c) ensure it’s the right one?

The general consensus, and we wholeheartedly agree, is that the best way is much like the way you make new friends: look at those you warm to, with whom you have the most in common and who you aspire to emulating. Ask yourself, ‘what’s their personality all about?’

Of course, we all know brilliant, hugely successful brands – and there’s no room here to analyse what’s great about the likes of Apple, Nike, Coca Cola, the BBC, Amazon, Red Bull and countless others. Generally speaking, we all know their personalities intimately, even if we’ve never given them much thought – and that’s the point. Apple, for instance, is all about sophistication – it’s artistic, creative, non-conformist, cool and non-corporate. Which is weird and amazing too because we simultaneously buy into that irreverent, rebellious vibe while being fully aware that it’s a monolithic global corporation! The brand personality is as powerful today as it ever was because both things are true and therefore aren’t mutually exclusive.

Caroline Forsey sums up this while personality thing brilliantly – and we reckon her words here are a good starting point when you start thinking about ‘who your brand really is’….

“If  I could go out to dinner with any brand, I think I’d have to choose Trader Joe’s. Now, I know that may sound weird, but stay with me. Nike, as you know, would be too energetic, which would embarrass me — let’s play it cool here, okay, Nike?

Apple, on the other hand, would be both sophisticated and a little pretentious, which would make me nervous. And Timberland is just too outdoorsy and gritty. We wouldn’t have much in common….

While we all know I can’t actually go out to dinner with Trader Joe’s (or any brand, for that matter), I’m willing to bet you’re able to picture what it would be like to hang out with your own favorite brand — or how a dinner with Peloton might differ from a dinner with Netflix.


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