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Captivating brand personality: 6 essential things you need to know

by Rolling Stone Culture Council / Bold Branding

To get the attention of the right customers and clients for your organization, relevance and resonance are absolutely necessary, and those are best expressed through a bold brand personality.

First, your audience needs to be convinced that your offer is relevant to their needs and desires. Second, they have to feel a resonance with your brand's personality and values. 

Here are six things to know about brand personality so you can provide creative leadership for your team members. These brand strategies will help your target audience grow in trust and loyalty to your brand.

1 - What is brand personality and why is it important?

Your brand personality traits are what makes your target audience feel a connection to your brand. To some extent you can control how your brand is perceived and the personality it conveys. To another extent, the brand personality develops based on the type of people who are attracted by the relevance and resonance of your brand messaging, and how they share their experience with your brand to others like them.

The brand personality you want to convey should be aligned with the needs, desires, and values of your target audience. If your brand were a person, what kind of person would it be? How would it speak and behave?

Giving human characteristics to your brand makes it more relatable. When you have a strong brand personality framework, you'll be able to:

  • Build trust and loyalty with your target audience
  • Differentiate yourself from your competition
  • Appeal to just the right people who are most likely to follow your brand
  • Create an emotional connection with your target audience
  • Generate repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing

2 - Start with your audience

Learn as much as you can about your target audience. What are their needs, fears, and desires? What motivates them? How do they make decisions? The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to develop a brand personality that resonates with them.

When creating personality for your brand, keep in mind that people like familiarity. We are attracted to people who remind us of ourselves or who share our values.

3 - Language matters

Think about the language you use to describe your brand in your marketing. Do you use first person pronouns like "we" and "us"? Second person pronouns like "you" and "yours"? Or third person pronouns like "they", "he", or "she"? The pronoun you use will help create a certain feeling about your brand.

For example, using first person pronouns communicates that your brand voice is friendly and approachable. Second person pronouns make your brand feel more like a partner or friend. Third person pronouns can make your brand seem more professional or even slightly detached.

The words you use to describe your brand can also help create personality. Do you use simple, straightforward language or more complex language? Do you use industry jargon or common terms? Jargon can make your brand feel more competent, but it can also alienate people who don't understand it.

The visuals you use are also important. The colors, shapes, and images you use will all communicate something about your brand. For example, using lots of blue can communicate trustworthiness, while using lots of yellow can communicate optimism.

Remember, you don't have to be one thing. You can be many things as long as they are all authentic to your brand identity and are both relevant to and resonate with your target audience.

Language matters and so do the people with whom you surround yourself. Join other arts and culture leaders in
Rolling Stone Culture Council.
Click here to see if you qualify.

4 - Get familiar with the 5 dimensions of brand personality

As developed by Jennifer Aaker, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business there are five dimensions of brand personality to consider. Each dimension has a set of human traits associated with the brand archetype:

  • Sincerity - down-to-earth, honest, trustful, cheerful, and genuine. These brands typically communicate ethical practices and concern about the community and their audience. They value good customer relationships and support their employees, society, and the environment. Patagonia and Toms are good examples of sincere brands.
  • Excitement - bold, imaginative, up-to-date, inspiring, edgy, and spirited. They may use colorful logos, unusual fonts, and show up at big sports and music events. They like to be known for "thinking outside the box". Nike and Red bull would be good examples of exciting brands.
  • Competence - reliable, responsible, intelligent, and efficient. The market considers these brands to perform well, both in product and in organization. Their fonts and colors convey trust. UPS and Apple are considered competent brands.
  • Sophistication - upper class, charming, romantic, pretentious, glamorous, and fashionable. Luxury brands like to have a sophisticated personality. Sophisticated brands can be found in all sorts of industries including cars, clothing, perfume, hotels, accessories like watches, and more. They tend to use delicate and thin fonts, and simple designs. Rolex, Mercedes, Rosewood, and Louis Vuitton are all sophisticated brands.
  • Ruggedness - tough, outdoorsy, masculine, and adventurous. These types of brands are often male-oriented. They tend to use dark colors, thick, strong fonts, and portray their products in outdoor and even extreme scenarios. It's for people who don't want to think they live an ordinary life. Examples include Taylor guitars, Land Rover, Timberland, and... Patagonia. You don't necessarily have to have one personality in marketing.

5 - How to create a strong brand personality

Build your brand by creating an emotional bond between your brand and your target audience; consider which human traits will best align with their needs and desires. For example, if you're targeting millennials, you might want to focus on creating a brand personality that is bold and imaginative.

Once you've identified the human traits you want to associate with your brand, it's time to start infusing them into your branding. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Use everyday human language in your branding (see above)
  • Create relatable characters or mascots
  • Use real people in your marketing
  • Tell stories that highlight your brand personality
  • Show, don't just tell

Be consistent with the human traits you associate with your brand. The more consistent you are, the stronger your brand personality will be. When your target audience sees that you're consistently infusing human traits into your branding, they'll start to develop a strong connection to your brand.

6 - How to communicate your brand's personality

Your brand's personality should come through in all of your marketing communications, from your website and social media posts to the way your team members answer the phone and greet customers in your brick-and-mortar store or office. Pay attention to the words you use and the tone of voice you convey. Be consistent in how you present your brand personality across all channels.

Be authentic; don't try to be something you're not. Be true to your brand's personality and values.

Be bold; don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd. A strong brand personality will help you do just that.

Just as people tend to share personality traits that attract us to each other, your brand can convey a personality that will attract the right section of the market. As a creative leader, help your team strategize the best ways to communicate this brand personality most effectively in your marketing. Be creative and bold, and it won't be long before you build a dedicated group of customers and followers who appreciate your brand for everything it is.