Brand identity expert, Alina Wheeler famously said, “brand is the promise, the big idea, the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company. Branding is about making an emotional connection.” A brand is not just a look, a logo, and a color scheme, but a promise to meet consumers’ expectations or perceptions about a product or service.
Consumers typically treat brands like individuals, hoping that their products will result in their acquiring of certain qualities which are presumably imbued by a brand. It’s that relatability that results in brand personality, which is the personification of a brand by attributing to it human characteristics.
If a brand is seen as embodying certain traits and characteristics, consumers that believe they too embody these characteristics or wish to be associated with these attributes are more likely to want to associate themselves with this brand and purchase its products. Inversely, those who do not find a brand to be relatable can effectively write it off and choose not to associate themselves with the brand.
While brand personalities can be multifaceted and complex, there are five dimensions that make up brand personality: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.
Brands that want to appear sincere are typically down-to-earth, genuine, wholesome, and cheerful. Examples of brands that have sincere personalities are Disney and Hallmark, which are both known for family-friendly, feel-good programming. Pampers is also a good sincere brand as it revolves its messaging around parents’ love for their babies and wanting to give them the best.
Brands that are exciting are daring, imaginative, and current. Many athletic and sports-oriented brands fall under this umbrella. Tesla, for instance, exudes excitement, being a car company that sells fast, technologically current vehicles.
Competent brands are smart, reliable, and hard-working. People who believe they possess these qualities likely love brands like Google – the keeper of all the internet’s knowledge – or Volvo, a car brand that is known for reliability and quality.
Sophisticated brands cater to those who identify or wish to identify as upper-class, charming, or glamourous. If you have an American Express black card, you are likely to be drawn to sophisticated brands. Luxury jewelry brand, Tiffany & Company falls under this dimension, as does technology giant, Apple.
Finally, rounding up the brand personality dimensions is ruggedness, which encompasses outdoorsy, masculine, and tough traits. People who value these attributes are likely to be inspired by brands like Jeep and Harley Davidson.
What’s your dimension?
Now it’s time for you to put this framework into action. I’m sure you noticed that many of the aforementioned brands can find a home in more than one of these dimensions. When coming up with your brand’s personality, assess the competitive landscape and decide what you would like your consumer to imbue. You can take it a step further and one-up the competition by making your brand sophisticated and exciting, for instance. No matter what you end up choosing, make sure the brand speaks for itself and allows room for others to see themselves within the brand.