Brand Personality Framework – The How and Why
We live in the age of the human brand. According to Accenture's Strategy Study, 83% of customers want human interaction - which makes developing a personality framework essential for brands wanting to cut through the noise and forge long-lasting emotional connections.
Describing a brand’s personality involves defining its human characteristics. In other words, it’s how you’d describe a brand as if it were a person. Struggling to picture a brand as having a personality? How about this: What qualities do you appreciate in your friends, or would put you off taking a relationship to the next level?
Outdoorsy, upper class, down-to-earth, hard-working, charming, energetic. Normally, we use these words to describe a person’s personality traits, but they can also be used to describe brands.
Brand trust is formed in the same way that human trust is built. It is your personality – the set of human characteristics that make your brand unique and recognisable – that allows your audience to connect with you – or not.
By developing a well-defined personality framework as a part of your strategic brand strategy, you can carefully associate your brand identity with these human attributes. The result? Brand personality traits that appeal to your target audience, boost brand recognition, increase brand loyalty, and assert market dominance.
There’s no denying that a well-developed brand personality is an integral part of any marketing campaign today. In today’s cluttered marketplace, a brand with a strong, well-defined personality stands out from the crowd and becomes relatable, desirable and trustworthy.
Consumers today want to feel like they know a brand and can relate to it. The truth is – customers might look elsewhere if a brand isn’t relatable and instantly recognisable and approachable.
If you’re looking to kickstart your brand personality adventure, polish your existing strategy or simply want to learn more about the process – look no further.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can use this branding strategy to build – and retain – lasting customer relationships, boost brand awareness, reinforce brand equity, and boost brand loyalty.
What is brand personality?
Essentially, it refers to the personification of a brand – the sum of its emotional, psychological, and behavioural patterns.
Consumers don’t just relate to these human characteristics and traits – they buy into them. Your brand’s personality is what your customers identify with, relate to and decide to invest both their trust and time in. As a result, it plays a crucial role in customer acquisition, loyalty, and equity building.
What is a brand personality framework?
Before delving into Jennifer Aaker’s infamous Brand Personality Framework – which we get to later – we thought we’d spend some time discussing the more general features of personality frameworks.
Think of personality frameworks as a strategic tool to bring a brand and its intended audience closer together. Your brand’s personality is the most effective tool for humanising it, and the first step is to develop one using a proven framework. A company or organisation can use this framework to shape people’s perceptions of its products, services, or missions.
Essentially, a brand personality framework identifies your brand’s essence – be that daringness, trustworthiness, earnestness, reliability, or so on. While reinforcing and encouraging brand loyalty, a good brand personality framework can increase brand awareness and provide diversity and variation.
In both B2B and customer-facing businesses, brand personality is crucial. In both areas, customers want a human brand that is relevant to them. As customers increasingly seek out brands that are authentic and transparent, an effective brand personality framework captures a brand’s unique personality traits and piques customers’ interest.
More than a means of reaching and retaining your target audience, the personality of a brand is an important element of its overarching brand identity. Your brand’s personality plays an instrumental role in its positioning and differentiation, and an effective brand personality framework gives a brand depth, individuality, variation and a competitive edge.
Communication style, tone of voice, and behaviour can all contribute to its effectiveness, as can in-market communications that actively cultivate consumers’ perceptions.
Think of how Brewdog has come to be known as playful and provocative, Coca-Cola as classic and family-orientated, Redbull as adventurous and Nike as socially conscious and empowering. Instantly recognisable and highly relatable, the best brand personalities are captivating and commanding.
Through compelling personality frameworks – these brands are not just bought, liked, and adopted by customers. A distinctly human connection is felt between them. This emotion-based connection lies at the heart of brand relationships and allows brands to feel familiar, safe, and trustworthy.
Why is a personality framework important?
Almost everywhere you look, brands compete to connect authentically with audiences. For a brand to remain healthy, it must have an easily distinguishable and attractive personality.
A well-defined and effectively implemented brand personality is beneficial in many ways, but chiefly it:
Boosts your brand story
Creating a brand story is an excellent way for a company to share their principles, values, and build consumer trust. Shared intimate details about a brand’s history or humble beginnings can help consumers relate to your company and feel a stronger connection. Having a brand personality can help your audience feel as if they are part of your brand’s story, and it can enhance loyalty.
Be sure to make storytelling a part of your brand strategy and remember that your story is every bit as important as your products or services. It’s always worth remembering that your brand voice should match your personality. So too should your language choices and tone of voice reflect the personality you want to convey.
Enhances competitive differentiation
To differentiate your brand from your competitors, brand personality is critical. Depending on the personality of the marketer, the same product or service can be marketed in distinctly different ways.
It’s essential to cultivate a personality that’s authentic to your organisation, consistent over time, and relatable to your target audience.
Increases brand awareness
Having a distinct personality will make your brand experience more memorable and recognisable. The importance of brand awareness goes beyond marketing your brand and promoting it to potential new customers. As recognition evolves into preference, it also involves cultivating awareness among existing customers.
Strengthens brand loyalty
If your customers feel a deep emotional connection with your brand, they’re more likely to stay loyal to it – it’s that simple. Apple understands the power of personality. With purposeful advertising, Apple has developed a sleek, artistic personality for itself over the decades, and its customers see themselves in it.
Consequently, Apple customers have developed a loyal following that defines their identities in part by owning Apple products.
Develops emotional connection
A brand’s personality fosters emotional connections with like-minded individuals who are seeking more than tangible offerings. By telling people what your brand stands for, what you contribute, and why people should care about it, they will be more inclined to support and invest in it.
As a result of this emotional connection, a brand can engage in more meaningful brand interactions and begin customer-driven marketing strategies such as word-of-mouth marketing.
What are the dimensions of a brand personality framework?
Stanford marketing and branding expert, Jennifer Aaker, developed the Brand Personality Framework. The five-dimensional model she introduces in her seminal article in the 1997 Journal of Marketing Research provides a framework for understanding brand personality conceptually.
Understanding how Aaker’s brand personality framework defines personality is crucial to identifying your brand’s position. A brand’s core values, brand archetypes, business objectives and trajectory are all part of it.
The dimensions of brand personality are as follows:
1. Sincerity. Personalities with this personality type tend to be ethical, trustworthy, and down-to-earth, such as Patagonia.
2. Excitement. Like Red Bull or Disney, these brands are bold, creative, and spirited.
3. Competence. This personality type is characterised by intelligent and reliable brands. Consider Volvo or Microsoft.
4. Sophistication. Usually, these brands are high-end, glamorous, and charming, such as Tiffany or Chanel.
5. Ruggedness. A tough, outdoor, or extreme sports brand such as Harley-Davidson, Levi’s, Jeep, or REI is a typical example of a rugged brand.
The traits that define a brand’s personality give each dimension more nuance, and it is this combination of traits that differentiates and identifies a brand.
Communicating your brand personality
Once you’ve chosen your personality traits, you need a strategy for communicating them consistently. There are three ways to accomplish that:
1. Visual Identity. This is all about your colour palette, logo, typography, image style, and design used in your marketing materials.
2. Brand Voice. In other words, this is the language you use – how you speak, the words you use, and at what volume you use them.
3. Actions. Everything you do affects how your customers perceive you. Ensure that your actions align with your defined personality.
How do you measure the success of a brand personality framework?
The process of building a positive brand personality is not one-size-fits-all. In a well-thought-out strategy, multiple factors work together. Some of these include:
- Public Relations
- Customer experience
- Quality of products/services
- Brand messaging
- Innovation in products and services
- Service/product diversification
- Sponsorships from corporations
- Partnerships between brands
- Supporting social causes such as climate change, sustainability, accessibility, local shopping, LGBTQ+ support, Black Lives Matter, gender pay gaps, and hate speech prevention.
The process of developing a brand personality requires constant brand management. It’s vital to run regular check-ins once your brand’s personality elements are defined, measured, and a strategy has been put in place. Typically, this is accomplished through an ongoing program for tracking brands. You may run these periodically or annually, depending on the maturity of your business and the industry you operate in.
Quantitative surveys are generally used to measure brand personality. Surveys are used to gauge brand personality by asking consumers and customers a variety of questions. By mapping these answers, you’ll be able to determine which personality associations you excel in and what sets you apart from your competition.
In order to reshape your brand’s personality to better align with your business goals or to use it strategically, you must understand how different personality elements impact your brand. Once you have these insights and a plan to track your progress, all that’s left is to decide what to do and when.
Start building your own brand personality framework
1. Know who you’re trying to reach
Brand personality traits should be chosen based on your target market’s needs. It’s absolutely essential to understand who your target audience is and what human personality traits they’re looking for in a brand. By conducting target market research, you can determine what your ideal customers will connect with instead of picking traits at random.
Identify your target audience’s characteristics, including their age, income level, gender, and marital status, as well as their values, interests, and hobbies. As you develop the personality of your brand, keep these details in mind. A competent brand knows its demographic completely and targets its messaging to connect with them.
2. Identify your competitors
Get to know your competitors and how they present themselves to consumers. Your competitors might sell sophisticated nice-to-haves. Consider developing a brand personality that embodies ruggedness to differentiate yourself.
Whatever you do, be sure to develop a personality that is authentic to your company and represents it well. It might be tempting to copy what works for competitors or market leaders, but it’s vital that you craft a personality that reflects your brand, your ambitions and your customers.
3. Identify your brand’s personality dimensions
Based on your demographics’, values, and hobbies, choose the dimensions that appeal to your target audience the most. It is possible to focus on one dimension or even combine two or three dimensions.
4. Choose your adjectives
Determine what specific brand personality traits you want to express within your brand’s broad dimensions. You should aim to differentiate yourself from your competition by combining 3-5 traits.
Some examples of brands that do this? Nike and Lego. Despite falling under the “excitement” dimension, both brands still have distinct brand personalities. Lego tends to be more playful and spirited, while Nike is more exhilarating and passionate.
5. Share your brand story
Stories naturally grab our attention Why did you start your business, what do you stand for, and what talents and quirks do you possess? It is important to cultivate a strong brand personality so that you can humanise your business, develop stronger relationships, and be exposed to a broader audience.
Bringing your new story to life begins with a clear understanding of who you are and how you want to be perceived. It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it.
Make sure your brand voice is consistent across all platforms and create an appealing look and feel. The way you express yourself is reflected in how you behave, speak, and act, and this creates an overall impression of who you are.
Share your brand story on social media. There won’t be time for you to actively manage every single network out there, so choose wisely. Take a moment to consider who you are, what kind of business you are in, and who your clients are.
6. Incorporate your personality into your brand strategy
Your brand personality shapes your brand identity. Consider aligning other aspects of your brand with your core personality traits in order to start expressing your personality consistently.
Customer interactions should also reflect your brand personality, such as responding to reviews, social media comments or appeasing unhappy customers. Incorporate your personality into every channel that you use.
7. Maintain consistency by monitoring
Consistency is key to maintaining brand personality. After you have started your brand, stay committed to your brand personality no matter what happens. Once you have determined what works and what doesn’t, you can make any adjustments you need to make. Don’t suddenly present your business as sophisticated if you’re committed to having a rugged personality. Customers may become confused and turn away as a result.
How Studio Noel can help
By humanising your brand, you give clients a reason to remain loyal to it. In order to engage customers on a deeper and more meaningful level, your brand needs to harness a unique set of personality traits.
Integrate your personality into every aspect of your brand. Besides setting you apart from your competition, this will help you form lasting relationships with your audience.
We’d love to help you create a unique and compelling personality that rises above the rest, embodies your brand, and resonates with your target audience.