Brand Personality: Dimensions, Elements, and Examples
A well-developed brand personality is an essential component of any marketing campaign. Do you consider your business to be adventurous, serious, or classic? If so, those are the types of consumers you probably want to attract.
The modern consumer wants to relate to and feel like they know a brand. Unfortunately, if a brand isn’t relatable to its target audience, those customers might just look elsewhere for their products or services. Fortunately, businesses can develop a unique brand personality with help from structured brand personality frameworks. A framework provides a foundation businesses can work from to develop an actionable plan.
In this article, learn some of the best techniques for creating an effective brand personality that can deliver your message to your target audience and make them more likely to stick around. Click on any of the links below to jump around:
What is brand personality?
Brand personality is the process of bringing a human element to a company brand or product through a set of recognizable personality traits. It’s an effective tool that can differentiate a brand and enhance customer perception.
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, 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 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.
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.
Aaker’s 5 brand personality dimensions
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:
Brands that usually reflect sincerity have traits like wholesomeness, cheerfulness, honesty, and down-to-earthiness. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brand personality elements
There are numerous ways people can bring their brand personality to life. The following elements can help you develop a brand personality that effectively communicates your brand message:
- Visual identity. The look of a brand can make it recognizable among consumers. This can include a brand logo, its color palette, and the typeface. For instance, many recognize the minimalist figure of an apple as the Apple brand.
- Brand sound. People can hear one note and instantly recognize their favorite song. The same applies to brand sound. Jingles, slogans, and sound snippets can make a brand memorable. Think about Netflix and how “ta-dum” signifies a time to chill.
- Brand action. Visual elements in marketing materials and engagement with an audience can show a brand’s personality traits. You can see this with Wendy’s Twitter account, which delivers wit and a snarky attitude in a fun way followers enjoy.
How to create your brand personality
In today’s market, you need more than a great product to get ahead. Companies need an impressive brand personality that appeals to consumers. To get started, follow these steps and shape the perception of your audience with an authentic brand personality.
Step 1: Analyze the competition
Learn about your competition and how they present themselves to consumers. Maybe you sell outdoor gear and all your competitors exemplify ruggedness. To stand apart, you may want to develop a brand personality that encapsulates sincerity. Just make sure that whatever personality you hope to develop is still authentic and represents your company well.
Step 2: Brainstorm adjectives
Brainstorm and jot down adjectives that describe your brand. Don’t think too much about it and just write down all the words that come to mind. Afterward, narrow the list to a few words and phrases that exemplify the message you want to send.
Step 3: Personify your brand
Develop a clear brand identity that connects with your target audience. How does the brand behave in person? This can help you develop a brand voice to match your brand personality.
Other ways to help you personify your brand include questions like “Who is your ideal customer?” “How does your product solve a problem?” and “What human traits can you incorporate to foster an emotional connection?”
Step 4: Incorporate it with other brand elements
Other brand elements that show personality include logo design, font style, tone of voice, and color choice. People associate symbols, typography, and colors with personality traits. Match these design elements with your brand personality to create a sense of cohesiveness.
Step 5: Monitor to maintain consistency
To maintain brand personality, consistency is key. You can always revisit what works versus what doesn’t and make any necessary adjustments—but once started, remain committed to your brand personality. For example, if you’re committed to having a rugged personality, don’t all of a sudden try to present your business as sophisticated. This can confuse customers and turn them away.
Brand personality examples
You’re likely familiar with several top brands and feel a connection on a personal level. This is no accident and a clever way for brands to develop human qualities that can drive customer engagement.
Below are five widely known brands that showcase their brand personalities well.
Coca-Cola blends its brand personality with excitement and sincerity. Its holiday packaging, brand colors, new flavors, and multiple campaigns, such as “Share a Coke,” evoke feelings of joy, optimism, and innovation. This seeing the good in all things exemplifies Carl Jung’s freedom type, The Innocent. Coca-Cola’s brand personality and voice feel like an old friend season after season.
The Chanel brand is classic, yet modern and sophisticated. Targeted toward an elite demographic, Chanel products supply a high level of prestige for the consumer and appeal to an audience that longs for connection and intimacy with a brand that values style and elegance. The Lover archetype is drawn toward the brand for its sensuality and strong connection. Luxury brands often face challenges in differentiating themselves from the competition, but Chanel does a phenomenal job of showing how the less-is-more approach can prove to be a successful strategy.
As a leading technology developer, Apple is known for its innovation and leadership. Apple has made a name for itself with its competent brand personality. Infused with excitement, the Apple brand appeals to a broad audience and is known for its superior products. Its brand recognition and differentiation eliminates the need for sales or slashed prices and cuts out price wars among competitors. The Apple brand wants to change the world with visionary products that only The Magician archetype can deliver.
REI’s unique beginnings and business structure as a consumer cooperative retailer differentiates the brand from other outdoor outlets. REI can put all of its focus and attention on a smaller niche of consumers. Started by 23 climbing buddies, the outdoor co-op shares a love for the wild and untamed outdoors and supports nonprofit organizations and sustainability efforts. The outdoor store REI attracts adventurous, outdoorsy consumers. REI’s brand personality is rugged and strong. Explorer archetypes love adventure and are drawn to this brand personality.
Disney brings the promise of magic into consumers’ lives and makes dreams come true. Since its start, Disney holds a strong position and continues to design magical experiences in stores, at its parks, and on the screen. Much like Jung’s Ego types, the Disney brand makes big promises and delivers. The Disney personality is truly that of a magician and is known for its imaginative and child-like wonder.
Build your brand personality with branding experts
Building a brand personality takes time. Without understanding today’s marketing best practices, you can easily miss something. Businesses rely on branding experts to develop an effective brand personality, voice, and overall feel designed to attract their target segment.
Create brand personality with help from Upwork. The Upwork platform connects business owners with independent branding experts who can help bring your brand to life.