Brand Personality: The Human Approach to Marketing

Hunter Ascroft on October 20, 2021
Building up a successful brand, and in turn, a successful marketing strategy starts with creating a strong brand personality. A brand personality goes beyond brand imagery. It means elevating your brand beyond just a logo, or visual identity to be its own entity. Brand personality truly is the personification of your company culture. Who you are, what you stand for, how you interact with your customers are all aspects to consider. The simplest way to understand your brand personality is to create a fictitious character for it, similar to creating a buyer persona for your ideal customer. Imagine what your brand would be like if it was human. What behaviour would they exhibit? How would they interact with others? What kind of lifestyle would they have? Ideally, your brand would have distinct characteristics that are compatible with your targeted buyer personas and potential customers. And this makes logical sense, you want to create a brand that shares personality traits with your ideal customers. To be able to form a deeper level of brand loyalty and evoke an emotional response in your customers, they have to build a personal relationship with your brand. In a way, you want to give your brand a distinct personality that can grow the customer relationship into a friendship.

Finding the Personality that Fits your Brand

The more human characteristics and details you give your brand, the more natural it will become to bring its personality to life. A good starting point can be evaluating your companies core values and comparing them to Jennifer Aaker's Big Five Personality Traits. These core traits include: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extraversion. Although it may seem tempting to load your brand personality up with only traits you think are more desirable from a business perspective, most human personalities are a complicated mixture. If you examine many famous brands, such as Nike or Apple, you can easily picture what their personified brands would look like and what human personality traits they would exhibit. This not only helps them stay on brand with all of their marketing efforts, it also creates a better customer experience.

Connecting with Customers: Brand to Friend

Continuing with the analogy that your brand is its own human entity, you should behave that way in your marketing communications. If you think of how people naturally communicate and form relationships, some marketing pitfalls become extremely obvious. There is a natural rhythm and progression to both. Imagine how obnoxious it would be if the first time you meet someone all they did was tell you how great they are, or how creepy it would be if a stranger started texting you when you never gave them your phone number. These are both things commonly done by brands in an attempt to market to new customers. Without a pre-existing relationship, or even so much as an introduction, these can give off an unfavourable impression of your brand and scare off potential customers. Instead, you should opt for a more natural way of communication with your target audience. Give them opportunities within the buying experience to tell you they want to stay in touch, only talk to them about the things they care about and if you are unsure, ask them! Most relationships involve both talking and listening, so make sure your customers know you are ready to listen to them too. It can be a waste of money and have a negative effect on your brand image when you launch large scale promotional campaigns to disengaged or uninterested customers.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that all communication channels are not created equal. Not all channels are effective for all intended audiences or the messaging you are trying to get across. In recent years, we have seen a rise in brands using text messaging as a primary channel to reach out to their customers. This can be a very effective channel with a high engagement rate if approached correctly. The problem is, most company abuse it and annoy their target market along the way. Text messaging is a very personal way to communicate. Usually, people text with their close friends and family, and it’s seen as a very casual and personable communication channel. Meaning, you need to build up a strong enough customer relationship to match that tone of voice. In contrast, with marketing emails there is more structure and formality to the conversation because email communications are associated with work and acquaintance, as well as friends and family. Receiving marketing emails has become more normalized as well so they generally require less connected customers to be effective. If you are not at a point in your brand-customer relationship to use a casual tone of voice, you are not ready for texting. A safe way to know what channel you should use to communicate with your customers is to simply ask. When you are asking your customers if they want to stay connected with your brand, take the time to ask how they want to stay connected. That way you can ensure that your communication strategy is a perfect match for your intended audience.

Be Empathetic With Your Customers

Finally, creating loyal customers isn't an instantaneous process. Long-lasting customer relationships happen with a series of small positive interactions that help build out a brand persona for each individual customer. Once you have a holistic brand personality, it is easy to create a consistent tone and voice that can be utilized across channels and build a lasting impression. Having a brand personality that reflects your companies core principles can help you generate brand loyalty and reach your business goals.

Key Takeaways

1. Create a Brand Persona - Know who you're targeting before starting any branding efforts.
2. Build Trust Through Authenticity - Be yourself online but also show others who you really are through authentic content.
3. Use Social Media To Engage & Listen - Don't just post; engage with your followers and learn from them.
4. Make Sure You Have Consistent Tone Of Voice Across Channels - People don't like being talked down to or treated differently based on where they interact with you

APA Style References

Ackerman, C. (2017, June 23). Big Five Personality Traits: The OCEAN Model Explained.
Lim, A (2020, June 15). The big five personality traits. Simply Psychology.