Trust, as the saying goes, is the foundation of any strong relationship. This is true of romantic connections, platonic friendships, and the bonds between brands and today’s consumers.
In this day and age, shopping is about more than just the purchase. People have big expectations of the companies they engage with, and their level of trust is increasingly based on qualitative criteria. Consistency, transparency, follow-through… these things will always be the big make-or-breaks. But what consumers seek now more than ever is a deeper emotional connection to the brands they welcome into their lives.
Consciously or not, consumers now ask themselves the same questions they might after a first date: “Is this brand thoughtful? Funny? Motivated? Do we have similar interests? Do we care about the same things?” Just as they do in their personal relationships, people look for a shared set of values and common understanding. Brands, in turn, are given a simple choice: make themselves emotionally available or prepare to get ghosted.
The key to avoiding the latter? Infusing your brand with a bona fide brand personality.
A brand personality is a framework designed to help shape the way consumers perceive a company, service, mission, or product. Like humans, it’s made up of a unique combination of characteristics that dictate how the brand shows up in the world — from the way it looks to the way it talks.
Building a brand personality is a critical positioning tactic, and a strong one has the power to engage consumers and create loyalty for a brand or company. Here, we’re breaking down how to create a brand personality of your very own.
Branding is extremely personal — and not just for consumers. Chances are that if you’re building a brand from the ground up, you’re the first to make the emotional investment. But if your brand doesn’t resonate with a broader audience, what’s the point? The best way to grow that emotional connection beyond internal stakeholders is to create a personality for those you’re trying to reach.
The biggest brands in the business are those that intimately understand their customer base. Take adidas, for example. From its “Impossible is Nothing'' tagline to its “Own the Game” growth strategy, the sportswear giant places consumers at the center of its universe. Its rebelliousness, optimism, and work-in-progress perspective mirrors that of its target audience, and as a result, the brand fosters unwavering loyalty among them.
How can you build a following of adidas-level loyalists? Start by asking yourself who exactly you’re trying to attract. What age range does this consumer audience fall into? Do they share any common interests? How about stressors, constraints, and pain points? Perform user research, conduct surveys, and facilitate focus groups to gather key insights about this demographic. Like any relationship, the one you cultivate with customers will be a reflection of how well you get to know them. Understanding their challenges, incentives, and behaviors is a great place to start.
Keeping your target audience front and center, define the way your brand speaks and acts by assigning real, human-like qualities. From Carl Jung’s 12 brand archetypes to Jennifer L. Aaker’s five Dimensions of a Brand Personality, there are countless frameworks designed to guide you through this process. There’s no wrong approach, but we recommend first narrowing down the three to four “pillars” that feel most foundational to your brand.
Suppose you find that “clarity,” “expertise,” and “value” provide this backbone. Establishing these pillars early on will help drive your personality, and serve as guardrails when it comes to exemplifying these pillars in action. To tackle the latter, consider how you might communicate each of these pillars to consumers in a way that pulls at their heartstrings. Which adjectives best represent the emotional and physical qualities of “clarity,” for example? Keep in mind that the better these words translate to visual and verbal expansions, the more unified your brand will feel overall.
Now that you’ve gained some understanding of who your customers are and what personality will best resonate, consider the tone of voice with which you use to communicate. Is it serious and highbrow, or funny and on-trend? Is it authoritative and direct, or casual and relaxed? Determining what your brand wants to say — and leveraging specific language to help you say it — prompts consumers to draw the right conclusions about who you are.
Few brands cut through the noise quite like Oatly. A Swedish-based company, Oatly has led the post-milk generation with alternatives to traditional dairy products — and traditional forms of advertisement. Its tone of voice is uniquely meta, and it breaks the fourth wall with a level of sarcasm, humor, and verbosity that puts miles between itself and the competition. But despite the meandering, long-winded path its often-serious subject matter takes from point A to B, Oatly keeps its language simple. This combination makes for an instantly recognizable brand voice, as discernable on a billboard as it is on a milk carton.
The key, of course, is consistency. Sure, your tone may vary from channel to channel. After all, what works for Instagram may not be as appropriate for your latest press release. But as long as you keep your voice unchanging, you’ll be well on your way to creating a cohesive personality that current and prospective customers will know anywhere.
At the end of the day, consumers are the only real judge of character here. How your brand is perceived by your target audience is ultimately up to them. But that doesn’t mean you should leave your reputation in the hands of fate. By better understanding the nuance of your target audience — and how to best serve them — you can shape an unmistakable personality they’ll fall head over heels for.
If you’re interested in developing a memorable brand personality with Big Human, feel free to reach out. We’d love to chat with you.