Your brand personality is defined by much more than your visual identity. A brand is a system that encompasses multiple moving parts, from messaging and voice to personality, behavior and actions. Consistency is key for all of these components to work well together–otherwise you end up with a disjointed experience that leaves customers confused and hesitant to come back.
For instance, if you’re a high-end shoe company whose core attributes are made-to-order and finest possible craftsmanship, it will do your brand no favors for your social media to feature funny cat videos or send a newsletter featuring massive bargains and coupons. Customers favor brands that they can trust and rely on. Having a well-defined brand personality that aligns with the other elements of your brand system is crucial to sustain that.
A simple way to begin to visualize your brand personality is to ask yourself this double question: If your brand were a person, who would that be, and why?
When we’re in the beginning stages of a branding project at Condensed, we ask a lot of questions. It can seem redundant, but for your brand team to be effective, they need to get to know the ins-and-outs of your origin story, product and vision as well as a co-founder would. Some of these exploratory questions focus on the nuts and bolts of the product — these are always welcome and prompt a rush of information from the client. But once we get into more abstract territory, the answers get shorter and more vague. Thinking of your brand as a person is often one of the things new clients struggle with the most.
Exploring your brand’s personality may not come naturally, but it is a valuable exercise for many reasons. First, it helps differentiate clearly from who your target customers are and who your company is. Some founders make the mistake of thinking of their ideal customer as the person who embodies their brand, and that is rarely ever the case. It may seem counterintuitive, especially if you have just spent a bunch of time and effort identifying target segments and outlining customer personas.
Your brand isn’t your ideal customer. More often than not, it’s someone your ideal customer looks up to.
One way to pinpoint who this person-as-brand would be is to think about your brand’s core attributes and how you’d like it to be perceived. Perhaps you make natural skincare products that are effective, affordable and safe for the whole family, and your brand feels down-to-earth, casual and a bit cheeky. Kristen Bell comes to mind. Maybe your brand is an expert tastemaker with an irreverent sense of humor – it sounds like Chrissy Teigen would be a good fit.
The person that best embodies your brand doesn’t have to be well-known — they could well be one of the founders, or their teen daughter, or a childhood friend who conquered a major setback. Whoever it is, everyone on your team should be closely familiar with this person and how their story and traits relate to the company.
Visualizing your brand as a person is a helpful tool to ensure consistency. It can inform decisions about the way the brand presents itself and the actions it takes. When you’re faced with tough choices, you can ask yourself — does this make sense for [my brand person]? Would they wear this, would they say this, would they partner with this company that’s approached us? Is this them?
Singer James Brown being greeted by fans upon his arrival at Kaduna Airport, 1970. Photo by The New York Public Library