GoodThinking the masonbaronet newsletter

Crazy, sexy, cool: what's your brand personality?

Brands are like people — and consumers “like” them accordingly. But building a brand isn’t as easy as perfecting a persona.


In the world of consumer insight, it’s common for researchers to ask respondents, “What kind of person is this brand? If it were to come alive, what would it do? What would it say? Who would it talk to at a party — and what would it talk about?”


Be interesting. It helps.

The concept of brand personality deals with the human characteristics or traits that can be attributed to a brand. It’s the added value that lives beyond the brand’s features and functions.


Citing research on the dimensions of brand personality, an article on the “Fuel Your Branding” blog lists five traits consumers commonly ascribe to brands:


Sincere: genuine, kind, family-oriented, thoughtful

Exciting: carefree, spirited, youthful

Competent: successful, accomplished, influential, leading

Sophisticated: elegant, prestigious, pretentious

Rugged: rough, tough, outdoorsy, athletic


Be honest. It works.

Today’s consumers are looking to engage. They’re looking for relationships. And that means they’ll choose based on whatever traits they value. So, an effective brand can build equity by consistently playing up its “winning” traits. It’s not a new idea, but it’s one that seems to be more and more relevant in a world where the line between individuals and brands has all but disappeared.


What it means for brands is this: The way to differentiate is to identify, communicate and even celebrate those traits that ring true with consumers. Notice that we didn’t say “Brands should try to force traits onto skeptical consumers,” or “Brands must try to become whatever most consumers will buy.” Instead, every brand must strive to simply be itself. The goal is to connect with consumers who appreciate (and reward) a clear, honest and engaging expression of the business and its value proposition.


Be creative. Strategically, that is.

Brand personality can (and should) also inform the tone and content of external communications. A consumer might view cars made by Mercedes as “assertive” or “in control,” but describe BMWs as “sexy” or “desirable.” Mercedes confidently speaks to its tradition of excellence in its tagline: “The Best or Nothing.” In contrast, “The Ultimate Driving Machine” tells a more sensory (even sensual) story about BMW. The former appeals to an ambitious perfectionist. The latter romanticizes the experience behind the wheel.


Be careful: It’s simple, but not easy.

Naturally, marketers want to define their clients’ personalities so they can create messaging and choose media to effectively reach consumers. But experts in branding know it goes deeper than that. Claiming a brand’s unique traits helps the brand connect on a deeper level. It gets the brand in touch with consumers’ real needs and desires.


Ultimately, it’s not about building a Facebook page and picking up more fans or followers. Instead, it’s about aligning the brand — and even the business model — with the consumer and his/her personality. Even further, it’s about rethinking the way human beings work, live, play and interact — and creating new and interesting opportunities for them to share and respond. That’s where brands like Starbucks and Apple live. Their personalities are direct reflections of the people who love and admire them most. Call it symbiotic, synergistic or merely a match made in branding heaven; the result is a win-win that impacts more than the bottom line.


At MasonBaronet, we know who we are. We know the power of a winning personality. And together with our clients, we build brands that engage, connect, inspire and endure. Let’s talk about your brand and its personality. Better yet, let’s start a conversation with your most desirable customers and show them your true potential.


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