The ins and outs of a strong brand personality

5 minute read, by Daan
Group 537

Brands are like humans. They have - just like us - a personality: the core of who they are. Want to build a successful brand? Make sure what you do, communicate, and how you appear resonate with a well defined brand personality.

Personality of John Mayer

Take John Mayer, a well-known artist from the US, as an example. Since 1999, he has made nine albums. Almost all in a different genre, during different trends and at a different time. John Mayer himself also became a year older, of course. Everything changed, yet he remains so recognizable. There must be something the same, right? It is his personality. That's what makes him sing about the same themes a lot, tour with the (mostly) same people, and remain relevant in the changing music world.

Personality is what remains the same. What you are inside. You can say that John Mayer has a imaginative, sincere, and charming personality. Combined with his talents, upbringing, environment, and knowledge, they make him the celebrity we know. The personality of John Mayer makes you love him or hate him. Something in between is also okay. Interesting, because the same goes for brands.

Self-awareness as strongest weapon

Brands (organizations) consist of people with personalities. That mix of people - and thus personalities - forms a shared personality. It causes you to love them or hate them. Even if they make almost exactly the same product. It's what makes a brand so unique. Tony Chocolonely, for example, is extremely social, Nike a bit rebellious, ANWB the real friend of all, and the ASN bank is environmentally conscious.

Believe us, these brands (almost) never fake it until they make it. It's just there. Where? In the people who work there. Their personalities are generally close to each other. And if not, then they want to shape themselves according to the personality of the brand. That leads us to another point: how do employees know what the personality of a brand is? By defining it as a brand! In the form of a sketch, archetype, long story or three keywords, anything goes. As long as people can relate to it (or not).

"Self-awareness is the beginning of all wisdom," also applies to the brand personality. You can streamline employees, reject them or select them with it. They don't say "starting internally leads to winning externally" for nothing. When employees know what the shared personality is, it helps a brand to better - and originally - express itself in communication, symbolism (e.g., house style) and behavior. On your own, it's sometimes already a challenge to have a strong personality - what we often mean is: to radiate. Not to mention for brands with dozens, hundreds or thousands of different employees.

How to determine brand personality

We just mentioned it: it doesn't really matter how you determine the brand personality. There are, of course, many methods used. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Determine the character (synonym) not from an ivory tower. Ask people within your organization how they see the personality of your brand.
  2. Ask customers, strangers, friends, and family how they see the personality of your brand. They might even know your brand better than you know it.
  3. Use the Aaker brand personality model. According to that model, based on good research, there are five dimensions of a brand personality to be determined: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. Under each "dimension", there are again different facets. Just Google it and you'll get an idea.
  4. Determine your personality using Jung's brand archetypes. Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung used the concept of "archetype" in his theory of the human interior. He believed that there are universal characters - archetypes - in the collective unconscious of people. And therefore also in brands! There are twelve well-known archetypes. The internet is full of them and we use them too.
  5. Use the Aaker brand personality model or Jung's brand archetypes in your internal and external research.
  6. Develop the brand personality in understandable language, clear graphics, or a one-page document.

Is this for you?

Now you know what brand personality is and how important it is for an organization to have a clear understanding of its own brand personality. It is the underlying force of a brand and remains the same even if the world changes. However, it can be a challenge for large or growing organizations to maintain their brand personality. That's why it's important to describe it so that you can use it as a tool when making decisions, such as hiring new employees, developing products, or even revising your entire business idea.

Do you find this interesting? We'd love to continue the conversation. "We" refers to Mandelo, a digital branding agency that specializes in creating brand strategies and corporate identities. Brand personality is an integral part of our brand strategy process. Either way, feel free to reach out to us.

Written by
Daan Douven, translated by ChatGPT.