Meet Bob. His favourite colour is grey. He smells like photocopy toner. He speaks in a low droning voice. His interests include memorising tax regulations and shuffling spreadsheets. Most people find Bob boring. Until tax time.
Then there’s awesome Becky. She’s a cliff-diving superstar DJ who sweats neon, bleeds mojito and never sleeps before 3am. She likes yellow and fruit gums and yoga and Scorpios. On social media people trust her for everything. But not tax advice.
People have different personalities. Brands too. We’re attracted to people with strong personalities, and to brands with strong personalities. A strong brand personality is memorable.
Brand personality must also be appropriately and consistently expressed for audience and occasion. A clearly defined, appropriate personality helps attract and engage people with your offering.
That’s why clarifying and amplifying a winning personality for a product, service or organization is such an important part of wholehearted brand building.
A clearly defined, appropriate personality helps attract and engage people with your offering.
Personality is an expression of who you are. The way you talk, think, interact and behave. It’s an anchor for how people expect you to behave.
Many marketers call brand personality “tone and manner”. Tone relates to voice. Manner relates to social behaviour. Tone and manner guide how your brand talks and conducts itself. How it speaks, acts and manifests across communication touchpoints.
How you say something is as important as what you say. Your tone affects how your audience feels. Strong brands take on human characteristics to emotionally connect with audiences and help them recognise and identify with their offering.
Winning brands have winning personalities
For example, Hong Kong Tramways’ personality is easygoing, friendly and cheerful. We know Starbucks for being warm, comforting and optimistic. The smart personal tech brand PowerWatch is bold, rugged and adventurous.
Even B2B brands, often thought in simple terms like “professional”, can convey powerful and attractive personality traits like resilience, dependability, care and courage to resonate with audiences. PowerWatch’s science-based parent company MATRIX has a personality that’s cool, energetic and ambitious.
What’s your brand’s personality?
A winning brand personality is built on several carefully chosen characteristic traits channelling your brand’s purpose, positioning and promise.
Creative teams use these words as guidance to express your brand’s messages and shape design language. For many brands, a compelling personality is a strategic differentiator to get noticed in the competitive landscape.
Your brand personality can be fatherly, funny, seductive or even snobbish and annoying – whatever is most interesting, attractive and relevant to your audience.
...a compelling personality is a strategic differentiator to get noticed in the competitive landscape.
Balance your behaviour
Personality adapts to context. Bob might become a dancing romeo on Valentine’s Day. Becky might show a softer side on Mother’s Day.
Yet brands can’t be contradictory, suddenly changing voice and behaving out of character. An inconsistent or inappropriate tone and manner weakens audience comprehension and undermines trust. This is easily done when multiple teams are tasked with expressing your brand without any cohesion. Consistency gives personality stability.
Brand builders can easily stray when managing personality. It’s tempting to stretch personality to appeal to everyone, but this waters down its impact and relevance. It’s also tempting to play too rigidly within your own rules. Wholehearted brand builders seek the sweet spot to create a stable yet malleable personality that fosters meaningful connection with audiences.
Develop a winning brand personality
A successful brand personality helps develop an emotional response in its audience.
To appropriately express your personality, take inspiration from one of the four Frenemies of the Brandocalypse, the creative tension between surprise and consistency. Your audience expects familiarity from your brand – but there should also be some unexpected novelty to keep their attention.
Your personality helps your audience want to get to know you. Make sure your brand is always on its best behaviour.