Brand gets defined in many different ways depending on the source, the context and the scope and depth of the investigation and the purpose of the definition. We’ve found a great way to help simplify this definition process and allow marketers to cut to the heart of the brand and incorporate that insight into all of their marketing efforts more seamlessly and easily.
Brands function as an identity for companies, just like a name does for people. Brands have a reputation, just like people. Brands have a personality, just like people (brandinality?). So why not examine your brand as if it were a person? Brand personalization is a great way to help your company’s employees and associates think of your firm in a consistent, easily-relatable fashion, one they can tell others about quickly and easily.
It’s also a way to get to know your brand better, because people are hard wired to humanize inanimate objects in order to better understand and relate to them, a fact that is a founding principle of the Disney company, and the basis for their movies and animated features. Think talking tea kettles with a British accent, and you get the picture.
Brand personification is “a Projective Technique that asks people to think about brands as if they were people and to describe how the brands would think and feel,” according to mktresearch.org.
The process is fairly straightforward, and we use it to help define customer’s perceptions of brands for client companies. Start off by asking a few basic questions:
- Is the brand male or female?
- Is the brand smart like school, or smart like a poker player?
- Is your brand a slob or a neat freak?
- Is your brand a jock or a nerd? Cheerleader or Goth?
- Is your brand trustworthy?
Now that you have some basics, flesh them out by asking yourself or your subjects “Why do you think that?” Those “why” responses are critical to keying on central core attributes or characteristics about the brand, be they experiential, visual or verbal. From those why responses, you can tease out various aspects of the brand that reappear across responses as more central to the identity. Those are the pillars of the brand and should be adhered to in all brand-relevant activities.
Now that you know it’s personality, it’s time to think about appearance. What does your brand look like – not the logo or visual identity, although that will come along a bit later. This relates to if this brand was a person, how would those key personality traits be revealed at a cocktail party or in their dating website profile photos. Visualize how they might represent themselves, as a person. Start with a name, (is it a Gary or a Lawrence, a Wendy or a Sahara) then flesh out the appearance of the person – are the clothes clean and do they fit well, are they age appropriate? Is this person kinetic and high-energy, or more laid back and laconic? Are they credible in speech, manner and appearance, or are they overblown or timid? Are they solidly in a category, like a surfer dude, or a Wall St. guy, or a coal miner, or a tire store manager? This can go on for quite a while, until a fully-realized person presents themselves to your vision. Now ask yourself “is this person a good representative to relate to our target audience?” If you’re selling amps and road cases, the laid-back rocker might be perfect. If you’re selling securities and annuities and other financial services and products, maybe not so much.
Now the big question: Now that you have created the brand personality, fully formed in front of you, would you spend time with this person? Would your target audience find him attractive and credible? Would they take him/her home to meet Mom?
Creating a brand personality does more than provide a short hand way for you as a marketer to think about your brand – it’s also a great way for you to explain your brand to colleagues and to get to know it more intimately, and allows you to improve the effectiveness of your brand marketing across all channels and media, company-wide.
Would you date your brand? If not, it might be time to make some adjustments . . .