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A brand’s personality is a collection of human qualities that are associated with a brand name. A successful brand builds its brand equity by possessing a consistent set of qualities that appeal to a particular consumer segment. A brand’s personality is an additional qualitative benefit that it gains from its functional advantages. A brand’s personality is relatable to the consumer, and if they become a regular customer, they may begin to associate certain aspects of their own personalities with the brand.

A corporation or organization can use brand personality as a framework to influence how consumers perceive its goods, services, or goals. A certain consumer segment experiences an emotional reaction to a company’s brand personality. Developing a brand identity is meant to encourage actions that are advantageous to the company.

A brand’s likelihood of being purchased increases if the customer finds the personality of the brand appealing. There are five primary categories of brand personality that share characteristics:

  1. Excitement: Carefree, spirited, playful, modern, trendy, and youthful
  2. Sincerity: Kindness, thoughtfulness, and an orientation toward family values, environmental sustainability, or care for workers and communities
  3. Ruggedness: Rough, tough, outdoorsy, unfussy, and athletic
  4. Competence: Successful, accomplished, and influential, which is highlighted by leadership
  5. Sophistication: Elegant, prestigious, exclusive, luxurious, and sometimes even pretentious

Brand personalities are even more important, especially in the digital age where automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technology is growing. As much as consumers enjoy being able to shop online or have companies predict their preferences, studies show that people still want personal interaction and direct customer service when it comes to the way they do business with companies.

Just as if you’re describing a good friend or someone you just met, we use adjectives to describe businesses, such as upbeat, young, serious, friendly, or sophisticated. Businesses communicate their brand personality through a developed brand voice and visual identity. With this set of human characteristics, you can enhance the connection and brand experience for a person.

The set of human characteristics of a brand personality can resonate with a large group or among particular demographics—positioning your business to stand out from the competition. For example, the personification of some car brands might be excitement, ruggedness, or sophistication, while other vehicle manufacturers might try to represent themselves as reliable, affordable, or sincere.

Why is Brand Personality Crucial?

When businesses convey human personality to their target audience, it can lead to strong brand recognition and consumer loyalty. Brand personality creates something recognizable and helps consumers relate to the brand. The following are some reasons you should establish your brand’s personality:

  • Enhances your brand story
  • Boosts your brand awareness
  • Differentiates your brand from the competition
  • Creates brand loyalty and emotional connection
  • Enhances your brand story

A brand story shares a company’s principles, and core values, and can build consumer trust. When a company shares intimate details about its brand—such as its humble beginnings—consumers are more likely to feel a strong connection and relate to the business. This is like the saying “Birds of a feather flock together.” Having brand personality traits can help your audience feel like a part of your brand story and can encourage loyalty. Because your story is as important as the products or services offered, make storytelling a part of your brand strategy to reach your target audience.

  • Boosts your brand awareness

Brand personality can boost consumer recognition, not only leading to new customers but also strengthening the relationships you have with current customers. If your brand personality is unique and memorable enough, you’re more likely to be noticed over your competitors, which builds brand equity. We can describe brand equity as consumer awareness or the feelings and perceptions associated with a brand based on their experiences. So, if your brand personality leads to positive customer experiences, they’ll be more likely to consider you for any future needs.

  • Differentiates your brand from the competition

Brand personality can help differentiate your business’s products or services from those offered by your competitors and build brand loyalty with consumers. It’s an essential component of brand differentiation because it gives your business more depth and nuance.

Read Also: Understanding Brand Cycle

Businesses can have the upper hand when a product is perceived to offer consumers more value, such as what we see with Apple products and their consistent pricing. In fact, Apple doesn’t offer discounts or sales because they’ve developed a brand personality that conveys sophistication—customers perceive Apple products as high-quality and are willing to pay the tag price.

  • Creates brand loyalty and emotional connection

Corporations and business owners want repeat customers. They can achieve this in a number of ways, including understanding customer needs, solving a problem that their target audience has, and connecting on an emotional level.

People encounter brand ads at a record rate. To cancel out the noise, companies must offer more than just a product or service. Successful brand personalities supply a helpful attitude and an effective solution to the consumer’s problem and meet the customer on their level as if they’re meeting someone for the first time.

  • Brand personality frameworks

A brand personality framework can help your business organize goals and develop a strategic brand personality. Companies rely on Jennifer Aaker’s model and Carl Jung’s psychological theory of the collective unconscious and 12 brand archetypes. Jung theorized that people across all cultures recognize and sort specific symbols as personality traits. Marketers use this tool to communicate brand personality.

However, Aaker’s model is the most commonly used and breaks down the five dimensions of brand personality that exist.

The five brand personality dimensions identified by Stanford graduate Jennifer Aaker stem from the existing research and evidence in personality psychology. She applied these human dimensions to the construct of brand personality. These dimensions include:

  • Sincerity

Brands that usually reflect sincerity have traits like wholesomeness, cheerfulness, honesty, and down-to-earthness. In a way, they’re typically family-friendly, like Disney or Hallmark. Because consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand if they share a similar personality, this personality type might work best for your business if you’re in the food, hospitality, or safety industry.

  • Excitement

Brands that portray excitement are often perceived as spontaneous, sporty, extroverted, edgy, and on-trend. These brands are often geared toward younger demographics. You can see this in the energy-loving brand Red Bull, which caters to athletes, musicians, and those who live an active lifestyle. Red Bull stays active and connected with its target audience through celebrity endorsements, concerts and music, social media, and extreme sports.

  • Competence

Brands that exemplify competence often stand out as reliable and intelligent and meet high standards. They’re also often seen as thought leaders and industry experts—businesses that customers can trust to solve their pain points. One brand that comes to mind when discussing competence is Microsoft. The brand has been at the forefront of innovation for decades and continues to release computer products that consumers can rely on.

This personality dimension might fit your business if you’re in health care, finance, insurance, or even logistics.

  • Sophistication

Brands that are grouped under the sophistication dimension often bring to mind traits like elegance, luxury, and the upper class. When you think of sophistication, you might think of brands like Louis Vuitton, which sells designer handbags and clothing. Sophisticated brands essentially offer prestige. If your brand is looking to sell higher-end products, you might try encapsulating sophistication to resonate with the right consumers.

  • Ruggedness

When people hear the word “rugged,” they might think of traits like tough and long-lasting. A rugged personality dimension can appear hearty and outdoorsy. A prime example of a rugged brand is Harley-Davidson. Consumers know this brand for its rebellious sense of adventure and unending quest for freedom and independence. If your business is looking to attract customers who want to express themselves and see everything the world has to offer, you might try developing a rugged personality.

Real-World Examples of Brand Personality

There are many examples in the corporate world of how brand personality works. Here are some common, well-known ones.

  • Dove

Dove chooses sincerity as its brand personality. In doing so, the company hopes to attract feminine consumers who don’t like the superficial image associated with many personal care and beauty brands.

One of Dove’s major marketing pushes was the Real Beauty campaign, which features videos that explored how brand images are retouched and photoshopped. It also uses models with diversely-sized bodies in its advertisements and features interviews with celebrity activists on its websites. All this creates a brand personality that feels thoughtful and genuine, which appeals to customers who don’t want to be associated with traditional beauty standards.

  • Nike

Nike has an exciting brand personality that motivates athletes to identify with it. The company’s motto “Just Do It,” evokes a driven, athletic person who is always willing to pursue new goals.

Nike’s products and marketing tend to feature bold colors, such as neon accents, that feel energetic and modern. Its commercials show people overcoming obstacles or achieving goals while wearing Nike apparel. Its brand personality feels active, ambitious, and inspirational, which are all personality traits that athletes tend to associate with themselves.

  • Luxury Brands

Luxury brands, such as Michael Kors and Chanel, aim to create a sophisticated, glamorous brand personality, which attracts a high-spending consumer base.

These brands use images that evoke elitism and luxury, with elegant settings and glamorous clothes. Michael Kors calls its rewards programs “VIP,” while Chanel has a section on its website devoted to “haute couture.” Their goods are priced above what many shoppers can easily afford, and since they have highly recognizable logos, customers who buy them can flaunt their ability to make those purchases without having to say anything directly. All this creates a brand personality that showcases the upper-class, trendy lifestyle that their ideal customers want to be associated with.

  • REI

REI is an outdoor recreation retail store. It has a rugged brand personality that outdoorsy, adventurous customers can identify with. The REI website uses phrases like “Gear Up For Adventure” in its copy, while branding is done with bold, unfussy, colors that are associated with the outdoors and action, such as pine green and dark orange. Event the website is organized not by type of item but by type of activity: Camp & Hike, Cycle, Snow, Water, et cetera.

REI’s brand personality feels strong, resilient, and exploratory, which is how its ideal customers want to see themselves.

  • Starbucks

Starbucks has positioned itself as having multiple components to its brand personality, including sophistication, sincerity, and excitement. It uses different components of its business to achieve each of these.

  • Sophistication: Starbucks advertises its coffee as high-end. Employees are educated about the different types and blends, and Starbucks offers its own exclusive line of coffee for sale. The company has introduced many branded drinks that become cultural touchpoints, such as the Frappucino.
  • Excitement: Starbucks encourages membership by offering rewards, including seasonal games such as “Adventure Awaits” in summer, when customers can win prizes. The company usually has seasonal drinks that are only available for a limited time, which drives social media excitement.
  • Sincerity: To counter the dislike of customers who see Starbucks as “too corporate,” the company has a strong environmental and social message. It includes sections on environmental impact and diversity on its website, as well as running partnerships with different charities or offering discounts to groups like veterans.

By creating a brand personality with so many different but complementary aspects, Starbucks is able to appeal to a wide variety of customers who associate themselves with different priorities and traits. For example, customers who define themselves as socially conscious might generally avoid buying from large corporations. But they can still feel good about associating with Starbucks because the brand supports ESG goals and talks about how they treat their workers.

Bottom Line

Brand personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name. Common ones are excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication. Brand personality is different than its imagery, though these creative assets should reflect a company’s brand personality.

A company’s brand should appeal to its target customers. When companies define and display their brand personality, customers who see themselves as having that personality can identify with the brand.

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