We’re diving into the steps to develop an engaging and effective brand personality you can use to resonate with your right audience.
When I think about having a functional and effective brand personality, the first part is to determine your aligned brand season and brand archetype.
But once you have those two elements understood, how do you actually build, grow and develop the brand’s personality? Because while yes, it’s really helpful to understand whether or not you’re a spring or winter brand with a jester archetype, that information will only get you so far. And as we’ve shared on multiple occasions here on the blog, brand seasons and archetypes are meant to be guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules.
Before we dig into the actual nitty gritty details, I want to give you the spoiler alert. Developing your brand’s personality happens by actually getting out there and taking action. I am a firm believer that you can’t actually get clear on the brand personality – the voice, the communication style, the overall vibe of the brand – without putting the brand to work.
And that’s exactly what I want to dive into today. What does it mean to put the brand to work and develop your brand’s personality, over time? Read on to find out.
In This Article
>> What is brand personality?
>> Why is brand personality so effective?
>> What actually goes into creating a brand personality?
>> How do you develop your brand’s personality?
>> What happens when brand personality isn’t clicking?
>> Additional brand resources.
What is brand personality?
Your brand personality are the characteristics that make up the thoughts, feelings and actions someone has for a business.
When you have a distinct brand personality and consistently show up with those defined characteristics, you give your audience something to connect with. Think of your brand like a human – the identified personality allows your audience to decide if they want to be in your circle of influence. It builds trust and connection with your community, especially when you’re consistent.
Why is brand personality so effective?
As mentioned above, your brand’s personality is what builds a relationship with your audience. Just like a human, if a brand doesn’t have a personality, there isn’t anything for the audience member to engage with. I think we’ve all had that experience where we meet someone who has about as much personality as a piece of drywall and engaging with them in a conversation is about as exciting as eating soap. The same is true for your brand. In today’s day and age, where competition is everywhere, as a brand, you need to be engaging in order to be effective. Engagement becomes easier when there’s a personality at the forefront. No personality = no engagement.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be the next Twitter Wendy’s (their roasts are amazing), Mint Mobile (hello Ryan Reynolds, thank you for making advertising fun to watch again) or Grove Collaborative (who doesn’t smile when they get a sweet message on their shipment box?). But the idea here is that you’re intentionally creating a personality for your right audience to engage with.
What actually goes into creating a brand personality?
Every single aspect of your business can either enhance or detract your brand’s personality. Meaning, everything goes into creating your brand’s personality. Your website, social media, emails, in-person meetings, brochures, signage – the list is literally endless.
That being said, ‘endless’ is a pretty overwhelming idea when it comes to your brand. So, where do you start to make it a little less anxiety-inducing?
Think about your customer journey – how do people become aware of your brand, buy into your message, purchase your service and stay engaged with your brand after working with you? Based on that journey, you can determine where the brand personality will be coming to life and what can go into developing that personality.
Here at Witt and Company, we utilize two different frameworks to support the creation and development of a brand’s personality – Seasonal Brand Theory and brand archetypes
Seasonal Brand Theory
The idea is that every brand identifies with a particular season and that season has unique characteristics. From the words on a website to the photography styling to the color palette, each season has a set of guidelines that embody and evoke emotions based on color psychology and seasonal theory.
Archetypes are universal, inborn models of people, behaviors and personalities that play a role in influencing human behavior; they’re innate, universal and unlearned. Brand archetypes, then, are characterizations of a brand’s personality based on their behaviors, patterns and images, and are derived from Jung’s original set of human archetypes.
How do you develop your brand’s personality?
I was on a brand group coaching call a few months ago and one of the students was talking about her brand personality – she recently went through a self-led rebrand and her brand personality was really coming to life. She had fun names for each of her packages, she felt in ‘flow’ when writing emails, she could easily look at something and know right away if it aligned with the brand’s personality or not. I asked her how she got to that point and she said, “I can’t explain how. It’s just a feeling. It feels really good.”
When I think about brand personality development, that’s the end game. To get to a place with your brand when you can easily inject a few words here or there to accentuate the personality.
But getting to that place can be a challenge. Especially when it is so hard to articulate how to create a brand personality; how do you map out steps based on a feeling within your gut?
While yes, there could be a 1, 2, 3 framework for personality development, I want to instead talk about various ways to take action and view it more as an experiment; a working branding element that grows, changes and evolves right alongside your business.
What are your brand touchpoints?
Think about all the various places that someone can come in contact with your brand. This is your chance to really integrate the personality to provide your aligned brand experience. But it helps to start with a list of all those touch points. This is where someone can experience your brand – think website, email, social media.
Does that touch point add-to or detract-from your brand’s personality?
Every time someone comes in contact with your brand, it’s an opportunity to further the desired brand experience. This happens by injecting your brand’s personality into said touchpoint. That injection of personality can look different for every brand. This is why it’s so important to have that personality manual as your reference document.
The primary and secondary brand season can help guide what that personality injection may look like. What I mean is, perhaps you’re a primary spring brand and your adjectives are creative, fun and friendly. The words, voice and layout will be vastly different than if you’re a fall brand with adjectives of natural, organic and grounded.
On the positive, this question is open to interpretation. But, that’s also the negative. Perhaps what you believe is fun and excitable, someone else believes is calm and grounding. This is when it’s helpful to really understand who you are for as a brand and business. It’s all about your right people interpreting your brand’s personality correctly – and by correctly, I mean whatever your desired experience is.
The brand personality litmus test
Another way to develop the personality is to utilize that personality manual as a litmus test for ensuring brand consistency. Again, getting back to this idea of, ‘is this adding-to or detracting-from the desired experience I want my brand to have’? And the question you ask can be as simple as that. Before you put out a piece of content on social media, write an email to your list or publish a new page on your website, ask yourself (or a trusted friend) if it’s aligned with the brand’s personality.
When the brand personality isn’t clicking
So what happens when what you’re sharing just isn’t feeling right. You’re a summer brand and you know the guidelines but there still seems to still be confusion or ambiguity on what you want your brand personality to be.
The most common brand mistake I see from business owners is that they spend more time analyzing what they ‘should’ do instead of actually doing something. We can sit in this space of uncertainty for such a long time, wondering if we should use this graphic or that graphic, this statement or that statement, that we end up not doing anything. And if you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that brand clarity comes from action. I hand-to-heart believe that there is absolutely no way you can get more clear on your brand, and your brand’s personality, without putting it out there and putting it to work. So rather that sit in this space of indecision, make a pick and put it out there. That way, you are able to get feedback on what’s resonating and what’s not.
Go back to your ideal client
Whenever I’m stuck with my brand, I always go back to the basics. And here at WCO we believe that basic starts with who you’re serving. If you’re feeling uncertainty with your brand personality, go back to who you’re a great fit for. Perhaps you’ll get inspiration based on the type of client that you want to work with and support. For example, if you’re a mindfulness coach and you want to support new moms, maybe a facet of your brand’s personality needs to be a calming and elegant, to help offset the chaos that often comes from having a new baby.
The idea here is that you’re drawing inspiration from the type of clients that you want to support and thinking through what they need most to engage within a brand.
Be crystal clear on your desired brand experience
Again, the challenge is that yes, adjectives and bringing them to life can be open for interpretation. But, it’s at least a start. What I mean is, pick your top ten adjectives that describe the desired brand experience that you want people to have when they experience your brand. Do you want the experience to be uplifting, fun and creative, or calm, delicate and simple? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but this distinction will lend clarity to your next right steps in developing your brand’s personality. Because, all the elements that go into creating that brand personality – colors, words, phrases, layout – will be significantly affected based on that desired experience.
I know that’s a lot of information to take in so the TL;DR summary is this:
- There is no right or wrong way to develop your brand’s personality, think of everything as an experiment.
- Have a brand personality manual to reference and provide guidance on the development of the brand personality.
- Brand seasons and brand archetypes are meant to be guidelines for personality development, not the hard and fast rule that is stuck in stone.
With that, happy branding 🙂
All my best,
Additional brand personality resources
Want to learn even more about Seasonal Brand Theory and color psychology? Click here.
Your brand’s personality can come to life by determining the season and archetype that most resonate with your desired brand traits.
Discover your brand archetype so you can create a solid framework around building your brand.
Identify your brand’s personality in 5 simple steps.
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