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The Psychology Behind Brand Personalities

The Psychology Behind Brand Personalities

Brand personalities are the traits that describe the personality of each brand. Brands like Apple, Nike, and Pepsi have distinct personalities that describe their core values and characteristics. Companies often create these brand personalities to represent their brand.

We all love our favourite brands, but how do they become so familiar? Why do we relate to one brand over another? Why do some brands feel more human than others? Why do we relate to a brand's personality?

Your personality is the very core of your brand. It is your identity. It tells people who you are and what you stand for.

But do you know who you are?

Do you know how your personality affects how people perceive you and your brand?

In this article, you'll learn how to identify your brand personality. Once you do that, you'll understand how to strengthen and align your brand personalities with your company's mission, vision and values.

What Is Brand Personality?

What Is Brand Personality

Brand personality is an intangible trait that distinguishes companies and their products. Some brands, such as Coca-Cola and McDonald's, are known for being friendly and easy to approach. Others, like Apple and Nike, have developed a more serious reputation.

Brand personality is one of the factors that drive consumer purchasing decisions. It also helps explain why some companies enjoy a solid and loyal customer base while others struggle to attract customers. Understanding brand personality can also help you market products in ways that appeal to your target audience.

The key to brand personality is that it is something other than what a company chooses. It comes naturally to the product. For example, think of the foods that make you smile or that give you a warm feeling. These are the same foods that people associate with happy or comforting feelings.

The best brands create familiar and approachable products, so they connect with the emotions people experience when interacting with them. This is what makes the products appear to be unique and special.

It is also why brands such as Starbucks and Amazon have become successful businesses. People buy these products because they know they will make them feel better. The product has a personality that helps it become part of people's lives.

Brands Are Unique, and Personal

When creating products, no two brands are the same. Brands share common characteristics that make them recognisable. For example, a brand should:

Brand personality is different for every business. Each business must decide what personality it wants to project. Understanding a brand's personality can help you market your business most effectively.

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How Brand Personalities Work

Brand Personality

A brand personality begins with the top leadership team. This team establishes the overall brand goals and objectives, determines the brand personality, and sets expectations for employees, partners, and customers.

Brand personality is also shaped by employees, who are often responsible for the company's daily operations. They interact with consumers, other employees, and suppliers regularly, so they have a unique understanding of a company's brand personality.

Brand personalities can also be influenced by marketing and advertising materials, such as advertisements, product packaging, and websites. These materials are intended to create an initial impression of a brand that customers remember.

How do Consumers See Brand Personalities?

Once consumers have formed a first impression of a brand, they continue to form more nuanced impressions based on their experiences with the company. These experiences include interactions with employees, vendors, and consumers.

For example, customers may notice an employee wearing a logo-emblazoned shirt or regularly visiting a restaurant for lunch. These details can affect whether customers believe a brand is friendly, professional, or competent.

Why Is It Crucial for Companies to Define Their Brand Personality?

The branding of your company is often referred to as the “face” of your company. When consumers first meet your brand, they often form impressions of your company before you even speak or share a story about it.

A brand personality is often created based on the company's core values, vision, and mission statement. It defines your company's style, tone of voice, and overall character. We could describe a brand personality as having a sense of humour, honesty, authenticity, and warmth. This personality helps set the mood when consumers interact with your brand through social media, television, email, phone calls, or direct mail.

Companies can learn a lot about defining their brand personality by observing competitors. Look at a competitor's website, blog, Facebook page, or YouTube channel. How do you think their brand personality compares to yours? How does it relate to their core values and mission statement? Do you see any similarities?

If you understand your brand personality well, you'll be able to communicate with your customers and prospects. That clarity can help build strong, long-lasting relationships with your audience, which is vital for a strong business.

Are There Any Pitfalls to Defining Your Brand Personality?

While it is essential to define your brand personality, there are still risks to doing so. Many companies struggle to find the right voice for their brand, so they use generic, impersonal, or even negative language that alienates their target audience.

For example, a business that is too serious may seem dull and unfriendly, while a business that is too casual may come off as unprofessional. It is vital to have a balance between positive and negative messages. Otherwise, your brand will seem either too friendly or too stern, depending on the circumstances.

The Aaker Model: Brand Personality Dimensions

The concept of brand personality has been around for quite some time. And if you're wondering who coined the term, it was a professor of marketing named Jennifer Aaker. Her brand personality scale was first published in 1997 in the Journal of Marketing Research. And she did so well that the same year, she became the first woman to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Marketing Association. The award is given to a marketing leader who has “made a major impact on marketing and management theory.”

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When people talk about the five factors of the big-five model of personality, the word “similarity” may come to your mind. That similarity, however, is not exact. People are similar to each other. They share certain common traits. But there are specific differences between them, too. In their study, Paul Costa and Robert McCrae discovered these five factors in 1983. They found that people with the same characteristics score higher on these five factors than those with different traits.

1 – Sincerity

When analysing what types of brands are seen as sincere, you'll want to consider what brands are often perceived as trustworthy, ethical, and friendly. It will be helpful to analyse why those brands are typically believed to be sincere. They're typically believed to be trustworthy, ethical, and friendly. As a result of some or all of those practices, they're often considered to be sincere. In contrast, these brands are often accused of not being trustworthy, dishonest, and unfriendly.

Additionally, they're rarely associated with any social and environmental causes. Therefore, the opposite is true. They're viewed by society and their customers (or members) as being untrustworthy, unethical, and unfriendly.

2 – Excitement

The famous brand is perceived as creative, innovative, inspiring, fun and exciting. The logo and typeface are unusual, the brand shows itself in unusual places, and the marketing team does its best to promote it as an organisation that “thinks outside of the box” to inspire and excite customers.

3 – Competence

A reliable brand is trustworthy, responsible, intelligent, and efficient. Consumers tend to use these perceptions to judge the competence of organisations and products.

Branding is usually displayed in thick, bold fonts and bright, attractive colours, such as blue and white. These are meant to communicate trustworthiness and also to draw consumers in. A brand ambassador will usually be knowledgeable about the product and perceived as trustworthy.

Other popular practices include highlighting the quality of suppliers and production efficiency, for example.

4 – Sophistication

Customers generally perceive sophisticated brands as luxurious and classy. They are frequently found in luxury products and high-priced brands across various industries. One of the ways a brand can become sophisticated is through the use of delicate and thin fonts, simple designs, light colours and the association with classy and upscale environments. They are often portrayed in upscale settings (luxury hotels, European cities and modern companies).

5 – Ruggedness

If we look closer, we see that this category represents a particular type of product that we can only find in some places. It's often seen in the outdoor world, where rugged brands are developed. Therefore, they tend to be male-oriented, use solid and thick fonts and fewer fine details, and depict their products outdoors (mountains, rivers, farms, oceans, cliffs) and in extreme scenarios (heavy rain, foggy weather, snow). The goal is to portray the idea that the product is resistant, durable and made for people who are brave, willing to take risks, with low fear and that don't wish to have an ordinary life.

How to Develop a Brand Personality

Brand Personality Types

You can build brand personality by identifying your target audience, understanding their needs, and tailoring your message to meet those needs. For example, let's say you're building a relationship management platform for marketing agencies. You can create a personality around how you think the agency market might use your product.

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Suppose you're designing a website for real estate agents. In that case, you can build a personality around the websites they are already using, how they like to communicate, and what kind of information they might need. These are three examples of how brand personality can be created in service industries.

To begin, you must define your target audience and what they want from your product.

Start by determining your audience's needs. You should be able to name the problem your product solves for them. For example, if your target audience is real estate agents, your audience needs a platform that integrates their existing website with CRM tools to keep them organised and up-to-date.

Next, figure out what your product does. You can do this by researching the needs of the market you are targeting and studying successful products in that field. You can also gather information through interviews with customers or prospects.

In the real estate agent example, you could also ask your audience questions like:

  • How did you find me?
  • How do you search for and compare homes?

Once you know what your product does, you can tailor it to meet the needs of your audience.

Keep your audience's expectations, likes, dislikes, and habits in mind. For example, make your website mobile-friendly so users can view it on smartphones and tablets. Your product needs to be easy to use, so customers can spend less time figuring it out.

Lastly, it would help if you considered your identity and values. Who are you? What makes you unique? What are you passionate about? What is your style? What would you like to teach your children if you were a mother? How would you describe yourself in a sentence?

These are the questions that will help you start creating a brand personality.


We have all heard the saying, “people buy with their hearts, not their heads.” This means we tend to buy things based on emotion rather than logic.

We can still be rational. We can look at a product or service and think, “that is too expensive”, or “it won't fit into my budget.”

We are emotional beings, so we often buy products and services that feel right to us.

We all have brand personalities, and it is essential to understand this so that you can market to people based on their needs.

Learn the psychology behind brands and personalities to write content that connects with your audience.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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