To create a strong brand, you need to know who you are and, most importantly, how to communicate that effectively. Identifying your brand personality is one of the keys to doing that well. The more developed your brand personality, the more you can break the wall between your brand and the people you want to connect with. (Identifying your personality is also an important part of your brand strategy. Follow our guide to create a brand strategy if you’re new to this work.)
Of course, when you’re building a brand from scratch or embarking on a rebrand, distilling and articulating who you are can be harder than it seems. This work is necessary, though—and you’re not alone in the wilderness. Over the years, we’ve picked up a few ways to help you hone in on just that.
If you’re struggling to articulate your personality or need to be pointed in the right direction, we can help. Here, you’ll find some of our best tips to identify and articulate your brand personality—with less stress.
What to Do Before Your Find Your Brand Personality
Before you dive in, know that your personality is an extension of your Brand Heart (your purpose, vision, mission, and values). Without an intimate understanding of these core principles, it’s difficult to articulate your brand personality effectively. If you haven’t done this work before, start with our Guide to Find Your Brand Heart (and get your free template below).
Once you have clarity about why you exist and what you’re trying to do, you can work through these tips.
1) Start with 3-5 adjectives.
These may be all you need to articulate your brand personality, but they can also be a jumping off point to get your team brainstorming. For example:
- Column Five: Human, self-aware, good-natured, and frank; smart but not arrogant; youthful, yet wise.
- Red Cross: Uplifting, empowering, inviting, personal.
- Jet Blue: Nice, smart, fresh, stylish, and witty.
For inspiration, you can reference this helpful list of adjectives from Hugh Fox:
You might also want to solicit suggestions from your team or conduct a quick poll. You can even circulate a larger list of adjectives and ask people to pick five. Once you comb through, you may find that the same words resonated with multiple people. This should help you narrow it down.
2) Imagine your dream spokesperson.
Who would be the perfect face of your brand? Whose essence captures what you’re doing? What characteristics do they have that you want to emulate?
Alternatively, some brands create an actual persona or mascot that captures their personality. Think of Betty Crocker, a fictional housewife created by the Washburn-Crosby Company in 1921, or Mailchimp’s chimp mascot Freddie, who “smiles, winks, and sometimes high-fives,” but never talks.
You can also personify your brand in other ways. What would you be if you were a car, a band, or an animal?
Example: You might describe your upscale Vodka brand as a bartender with the charm of Bradley Cooper and the wit of Stephen Colbert, or you might describe your inclusive beauty brand as the lovechild of Lizzo and Jameela Jamil.
3) Create a mood board.
If you’re having trouble describing yourself, sometimes it helps to “see” yourself. Compile images of the type of person or people you want to be. Are you the carefree surfer enjoying a final summer sunset? A gamer with the perfect comeback? Note: This isn’t necessarily meant to represent your visual identity; it’s just meant to help you hone in on your personality.
Example: As LinkedIn points out in their guidelines, “When we write and speak, we want you to feel like we’re your teammate at work, someone you like and trust. Someone who’s always on your side. Someone you can lean on for guidance, encouragement, and expertise. Someone who has a genuine interest in helping you be your best professional self.” Their brand imagery reflects this as well.
4) Think of who you want to be to your customers.
Remember who you’re for. Who would your ideal customer turn to for help? What traits would make them choose you over another brand? What do you want them to envision you as? Are you a reliable older brother? A cheerful best friend?
Example: Boy Scouts of America describe the brand as a boy who is “Trustworthy, Adventurous, Patriotic, Faithful…Not to mention the fact that he’d offer to help you across the intersection and show you the path of least resistance to your destination.
5) Try a quiz.
Sometimes you need a nudge in the right direction. With this Brand Personality Quiz by N-Vision Designs, you can answer 7 simple questions that can help you identify your brand archetype. Note: You don’t have to take this as gospel, but it can be a helpful tool if you’re stuck.
Go Beyond Your Brand Personality
Once you have a sense of who you are, distill your personality into a simple description that’s no more than a sentence or two. (Even if you just have that list of adjectives, it’s helpful to bring it to life with a simple, tight description.)
Remember: The goal of articulating your personality is to provide the context, background, and guidelines people need to represent your brand accurately. Once you’ve done this all effectively, you can work on refining other aspects of your brand and creating the tools to apply it correctly.
- Complete your brand essence. Make sure you know your brand voice and tone. (Answer these 7 questions to find your brand voice.)
- Build your visual identity. Follow our guide to build a brand identity that communicates your brand effectively.
- Update your style guide. Find out how to build a brand style guide everyone can use.
- Inject your personality into your storytelling. Follow these tips to tell an interesting and engaging brand story.
And if you need help at any stage, holler at us.