Building Brand Personality

Brands that carry with them a true persona, and the beliefs and experiences similar to a personality make a brand rise to a new level. After all, it's hard not to like someone with a good personality. In matters of branding, a personality helps to humanize an otherwise inanimate object or service so that a prospect's defenses are lowered. An attractive brand personality can pre-sell the prospect before the purchase, reinforce the purchase decision, and help forge an emotional link that binds the buyer to the brand for years to come. In such cases, "you are more willing to overlook flaws and search for strengths," writes Upshaw.

According to Kosgrove, small-company brands usually take on the personality of the entrepreneur who owns them. It's hard, he says, for an entrepreneur to create a brand that is a 180-degree turn against what the founder is like. Therefore, if the founder is a high adventure sports enthusiast, the brand will probably not be the favorite of a conservative investment banker. "A brand is everything that your customers know about you," says Kosgrove. Every contact they have with you helps to build that brand, good or bad. An entrepreneur or founder, to a large extent, is the brand because the personality and the interest of the founder is going to have a lot to do with the way that the company is perceived by others."

One entrepreneur whose personality permeates every aspect of his brand is Nicholas Graham, founder of Joe Boxer. The off-beat, humorous line of boxer shorts and loungewear that the company produces bears the distinctive image of the zany Graham himself, who is best known for unorthodox marketing antics like shooting an underwear-laden rocket into space and holding an undergarments "fashion show" on a transatlantic flight on Virgin Airways.

A brand's personality can offer the single most important reason why one brand will be chosen over another, particularly when there are few product or service features that are different between competing brands. The personality gives the consumer something to relate to that can be more vivid than the perceived positioning of the brand.

The personality, in some ways, is much more real than the other aspects of the brand because it is the outstretched hand that touches the customer as an individual.

Although a strong identifiable personality is not imperative, it can make it easier for customers and prospects alike to understand what the marketer has to offer. Even more important, a brand with a distinctive personality presents the would-be buyer with something he or she can relate to as an individual, a practical prerequisite for success in an increasingly individual-driven marketplace. Personality is usually shown in three ways.

1.  Provider-driven
Provider-driven images are popular with services because there is a greater need to build confidence between the provider and seller since there is usually an intangible product on the table. Brands that lean heavily on the provider image include insurance companies and financial institutions. Prudential's "The Rock" and Allstate's "You're in good hands," show that the brand is trustworthy and their brands reflect the same attitude.

2.  Image of the user
Other brands like to show that the people who use the brands are people that you could be friends with, relate to, or want to be like. Many companies with branded products geared toward Generation X and Y use this tactic. However, these generations are also skeptical of marketers and are keenly aware of when a brand is targeting them.

3.  Image of the product or service
As strange as it may sound, packaged products often take on a personality that consumers can relate to. Whether through a mascot or an animated figurine, products come to life to give consumers more than just a brand to trust, but also a face. For instance, the Pillsbury Doughboy's laugh reinforces that the product will make your family feel good.

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