How to Establish your Brand’s Personality and Identity

Brand personality and identity are a set of emotional and associative characteristics connected to your business; they shape how customers interact with and feel about it. Identifying your unique personality and identity can help you differentiate from competitors and establish an emotional relationship with your customers. When customers feel emotionally connected to your brand, they are more likely to trust you and therefore purchase your products. B2B brands fare better with customers when they use emotive rather than rational marketing messages.

Before you begin developing your personality or identity, it’s important to understand how they are different, and work together. Personality is the way the brand speaks and behaves. It assigns human personality traits or characteristics to the brand. While identity is the mental and functional associations with the brand. Its elements identify the brand in the audience’s mind with colors, logos, names or symbols.

Personality is how the consumer feels as a result of interacting with the brand, while the identity is the result of what it does, such as the company mission and promise to customers.

A great example of an identity and personality you’ve likely interacted with is Nike. ‘Just Do It’ and the swoosh symbol are part of the brand identity as customers immediately think of Nike when they see them. The fact that customers feel “strong” and like a “conqueror” when they wear Nike is part of the brand personality.

 

Identify Your Brand Personality

There are five categories of brand personalities. Each personality has a set of traits attributed to them:

  • Sincerity – Down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, cheerful
  • Excitement – Daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date
  • Competence – Reliable, intelligent, successful
  • Sophistication – Upper class, charming
  • Ruggedness – Outdoorsy, tough

 

Almost every brand can be described with one of these personalities. Sometimes brands may overlap into another category, but there is always a primary category each brand falls under.

To identify which category your brand falls under, think about what words come to mind when you think about your business and match each word with the personality. Most likely, you’ll find more words in one category than another.

Here are some examples of words you may think about related to your brand:

  • Family-oriented
  • Sentimental
  • Neighborly
  • Young
  • Independent
  • Confident
  • Corporate
  • Secure
  • Sleek
  • Masculine

 

Establish Your Brand Identity

Once you’ve determined your personality, you can begin developing the design elements of your identity. These will help convey the personality and style. The three key elements of a brand design are color, typography and imagery. Below are some examples of how the elements relate to potential customers.

Color

  • Warm: happy, inviting, active
  • Cool: calm, relaxed
  • No color: stark, simple
  • Complementary: harmonious, trustworthy
  • Contrasting: active, impactful
  • Saturated: Intense, bold

 

Typography

  • Serif: formal, mature
  • Sans serif: informal, modern
  • Script: elaborate, feminine
  • Uppercase: bold, pushy
  • Lowercase: informal, relaxed
  • Titlecase: solid, expected

 

Images

  • No border: informal, fun
  • Heavy border: strong, impactful
  • Fine border: expected, honest

 

Other Elements

  • Square: formal, expected
  • Rounded: fun, casual
  • Left/Justified alignment: formal
  • Right/Center alignment: casual, chaotic
  • Extra space: organization, harmony
  • Little space: clutter, chaos

 

Once you’ve established your personality and identity, you are well on your way to competing with your competitors and creating an emotional relationship with your customers. Next you should create a brand guidebook that includes company guidelines for use of brand materials to ensure consistency, particularly when working with a third party vendor. If you need an example, take a look at these 21 style guides on Hubspot.

Burdette Ketchum can you help you get started defining your brand personality and identity. Contact us!