Brand Personality: Be the Right Company for the Right People
Learn how to create the optimal strategy for brand personality to influence how your target customer group thinks of you.
What Is Brand Personality?
Brand personality is a marketing tool that helps a company or organization shape the way people perceive its product, service, or mission. When handled well, a strong brand personality elicits a positive emotional response in a specific consumer segment, improving how target customers feel about the brand.
Of course, the success of a brand personality strategy depends on how the company manages their branding. A poorly handled brand can just as well turn customers away!
That’s why we compiled this guide. Below, we explain the delicate ins and outs of brand personality strategy, including the best brand personality traits and some brand personalities examples. But first, let’s start with a more thorough brand personality definition.
Brand Personality Definition
Branding is a lot more intricate than first-timers might think. There’s quite a few different facets to it, from visual identity to conceptualization. Brand personality is the specific aspect of branding that relates to how your brand comes across to consumers, especially to your target customer groups.
Think of your brand like a living, breathing person. If you met them at a party, what would you think of them? Would you think they’re charming and fun, or would they seem stuffy and boring? Maybe your brand is the more serious type, but does that make them more trustworthy than the life-of-the-party brands? By the end of the party, would you want to meet each other again?
That’s brand personality: how people perceive your brand, regardless of whether or not that perception is justified. The good news is that, just like a person can dress up and put their best foot forward, so too can your brand actively improve the way people perceive it. And therein lies the essence of brand personality strategy.
The Importance of Brand Personality
Make no mistake about it: brand personality is crucial. All other aspects like cost or availability being equal, consumers will always choose the brand they like over the brand they don’t. The central aim of brand personality marketing is to develop that kind of personal connection with customers.
Sure, strictly business aspects like pricing influence how people perceive you, too—after all, who doesn’t like someone who can save them money. But there’s a whole, separate array of emotional opportunities out there as well to show off the personality of a company: appearance, tone of voice, and online presence just to name a few.
When devising a corporate brand personality, a company must always consider whom they’re marketing to. There is no single “best” brand personality; it depends entirely on which customer segment they’re targeting. The types of branding personalities that work with middle-aged, high-income earners aren’t going to be effective on Gen Zers with less disposable income.
Keep that in mind when you read through the specifics below. Choose your brand personality traits based on what resonates with your target consumers. Your entire brand strategy should be reverse-engineered starting with the tastes and preferences of your ideal customer group. If you can win their hearts, you can win the sale.
Brand Personality Framework: 5 Essential Parts
Here, we outline the necessary components you need to build your own brand personality model. The different choices you make in each area determine the different types of brand personality you can create, so make the best decisions for your particular market.
Note that these are slightly different from the more general branding elements we’ve discussed before. Sure there’s some overlap and common ground, but for the most part the areas below focus more on perception and influencing customers, more-so than the other aspects of branding.
Your logo is the face of your brand. There’s a lot more to logos than just cartoon mascots and memorable icons; following graphic design principles, every choice for color, shape, and typography affects how viewers interpret your company, even subconsciously.
Most important, your logo acts as an anchor for your entire brand. Every time someone sees your logo, they associate it with your entire company, drawing up past experiences, previous outreach campaigns, and their own personal pain points that your product or service can solve. That’s why it pays to invest extra in your logo. It’s not just a symbol for your brand, but your entire marketing strategy.
2. Tone of Voice
Although you won’t often speak to your target customers face-to-face, the tone of voice you use in your written materials is a big signal for how your brand comes across. From website copy to social media posts to blog articles, you want your writing to reflect a distinct, even human voice.
Your brand’s tone of voice determines factors like whether to add emojis, whether to crack jokes, or whether to use slang. Consider both the preferences of your target customers and what sounds most natural for your brand personality type.
Above all, maintain consistency. You want to use the same tone of voice on your website, ads, social media—every time you communicate, really. Otherwise, the inconsistency will give your audience a tough time in figuring out what kind of brand you are.
3. Color Scheme & Visual Style
Choosing your brand’s visual style is more than just picking your favorite color. Based on color theory and the psychology of visual design, different colors and shapes each have subconscious affects on the viewer. Ever wonder why a majority of fast food chains choose red and yellow for their branding?
Your color scheme and visual style play a large role in web design, product design, packaging, merchandise, and in-store decor. In the right hands it’s a great branding opportunity: visual styles are a shortcut to influencing how people perceive you. But making the most out of them requires a bit of expertise, so if you’re having trouble consider working with a professional design agency.
What good is having an amazing brand personality if no one sees it! Outreach is as essential for branding as it is for getting customers in the door. However, with hundreds of different avenues to pursue, you have to make sure you invest in the ones that make a difference. To put it simply, go to where your target customers are.
Choices like where to advertise, what to say online, and how accessible your website is can all affect the impression you make on new visitors. The decisions for how you present yourself publicly directly affect what people think of you, to say nothing of how it impacts your overall brand awareness.
5. Mission & Values
A company’s mission and values are becoming more and more important to consumers as business ethics start taking the spotlight. Younger markets especially are increasingly concerned about giving their money to the right people.
Presenting the right mission statement and supporting the right values is a good way to ingratiate yourself with your target market. If your main customer segment learns that you share their same concerns, they’ll be much happier doing business with you. Just make sure to back up everything you claim—if your customer base feels betrayed, there’s no winning them back.
Examples of Brand Personality
Red Bull is a great example of a brand personality that matches its product. The branding for this energy drink is fittingly energetic: an exciting brand personality to attract thrill-seekers, extreme athletes, and anyone else who wants the “wings” Red Bull gives.
For starters, their logo is red and aggressive. A literal icon of their name, the bull mascot is caught mid-charge to portray the brand as active. Using a cartoon mascot might seem obvious, but Red Bull knew a less realistic aesthetic would undercut their message. Aside from the logo, most of their other branding also takes advantage of the color red, perfect for urgency, passion, and activity.
But perhaps the strongest arm of Red Bull’s brand personality strategy is their outreach. They target a lot of sport events, in particular extreme sports. For one thing, this works because that’s where their target market is. Moreover, it also strengthens the associations between Red Bull and exciting activities—when an athlete or vehicle wears a Red Bull logo, it’s almost like the brand itself is participating.
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. is one of the most iconic jewelry brands on the markets—and they know it! The company leverages this perception to reinforce its image as an exclusive and high-end jeweler, with both top-quality and pricey products that signify status and wealth.
But that could describe most fashion brands; what sets Tiffany & Co. apart is their branding. Their legacy is more or less cemented in pop culture, with flattering references in numerous songs and films, not the least of which is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This is no accident, but the deliberate result of their branding campaigns aimed at coming across as sophisticated and premier.
One of Tiffany & Co.’s greatest advantages in branding is their iconic looks, including both an instantly recognizable shade of blue and their unique fixation on keys. That specific shade of robin’s egg blue automatically connects people to the company, and for their part Tiffany’s makes sure to use it on all their packaging and branded media.
The Tiffany key, too, reinforces the positive associations with the brand. The keys themselves are reminiscent of antiquity (never modern keys), furthering their image of sophistication and elegance.
It’s worth noting that recently Tiffany & Co. has undergone a rebrand to appeal to younger markets like Gen Z. They’re foregoing a lot of their historical ties and giving the brand personality more of an edge, with slogans like “not your mother’s Tiffany.” Time will tell if this rebrand is a success.
Compared to its browser competitors like Chrome or Safari, Firefox stands out as more modern, more energetic, and more fun. One of our biggest clients, Mozilla asked us to help create the Firefox master brand, tying the browser and other products together. The challenge was to combine two somewhat opposing brand personality types: one of trust, and one of fun.
We used a design funnel method coupled with community feedback to create the brand personality you see today. The Firefox logo was vital because it also doubled as the app icon, so people were going to interact with it every time they went online.
The use of blues and purples signal trust and reliability—linked to Firefox’s privacy features—while the warm reds and oranges made the brand seem more fun and energetic, furthered by the imagery of flames. Add to that the iconic fox face, and the logo encapsulated everything the brand wanted for its outgoing personality.
These elements don’t just exist in the logo, though. The color schemes, imagery, and most important the attitude carry over throughout all of Firefox’s outreach campaigns. When customers see that unique blend of warm and cool colors, faintly reminiscent of a rainbow, they think of Firefox—and that’s the sign of a successful brand personality.
Bitstrips, the company behind Bitmoji and another of another of our major clients, has a personality that is decidedly cheerful. That’s no accident, but rather the end results of long hours and dedicated effort to convey those feelings to potential customers without outrightly saying them.
For starters, the face on the Bitmoji logo carries a lot of the weight: it’s not quite a smiley face but still recognizably cute. But it’s far from the only element at play. The use of the word bubble shows its functions (communication), while the pastel color scheme keeps things light and breezy.
Aside from the logo, Bitstrips incorporated a brilliant outreach campaign to get people on board with Bitmoji. When the app was released, they partnered with celebrities like Seth Rogan, Katy Parry, Lena Dunham, and Anthony Mackie to raise awareness. Their choice in influencers was pivotal—they chose only people who both fit the light-hearted brand personality, and appealed to their target market of young and outgoing people who loved emojis.
All their branches combined together to form a distinct and strategic brand personality, joining together visuals with a strong outreach strategy.
How to Create Brand Personality
Brand personality analysis
First things first, you need to know what type of brand personality would work best for you. Ideally, you’ve already conducted marketing tests with your target customer groups, so you should already have a good idea of what they like and which of the different brand personalities they respond to best. Even so, it can still be difficult to pin down the most effective traits.
If you’re still struggling, here’s a quick exercise to help you think. Simply make a brand personality list of 28 adjectives that describe the ideal you’re going for. These can be any adjectives that describe the brand you want, from human characteristics like “confident” or “funny,” to more business-oriented traits like “inexpensive” or “accessible.” You can even describe traits of your ideal customers, like “youthful” or “spiritual.”
Writing out this list beforehand can help you focus your thoughts and paint a clear picture of what you’re aiming at. You can even integrate these traits into a handy brand personality chart for quick reference. Don’t be afraid to disregard some of those traits later, this is just an exercise to help you get started.
Identify how to bring your brand to life
Once you know what brand personality traits you want, your next step is figuring out how to represent them. This involves choosing the right visuals like colors and typography, and the right marketing campaigns like social media outreach and advertising.
If you’re working with professional designers, they should know the best visual aspects already; all you have to do is sit back and let them do their jobs. If you’re choosing a DIY route, you can look up resources on color theory and other graphic design techniques to find the ones that match your brand personality traits.
When it comes to the interpersonal aspects of brand personality like outreach, you’ll have to be more creative. Think about what other companies have the same brand personality traits you do and see what kind of marketing campaigns they use, like how they act on social media or what kind of promotions they run. This can give you some good ideas and inspire your techniques, with your own unique twists.
Work with the right people
It’s one thing to know how you want your brand to sound or what you want your logo to look like, but it’s another thing entirely to actually pull these off. Managing an entire brand on your own is no easy feat, so your best bet is to enlist help from the right people.
Think about a middle-aged brand manager trying to appeal to teenagers on social media. Instead of pushing through the disadvantage, wouldn’t it be better to just hire a like-minded social media manager who knows how to talk to your target audience? The same principle applies throughout all aspects of branding and brand personality strategy.
Likewise, unless you have design experience personally, it’s best to work with a professional design agency on your visual branding. The intricacies of graphic design run deep, and while you can learn the basics on your own, for true optimization of branding visuals like logos and web design, you need a team of seasoned experts.
To make the most of your brand, take a look at our brand creation agency. Top-tier companies trust us to produce the visual identities that power global marketing strategies, and we can do the same for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us now.
Updated: May 30, 2023