What is brand personality?

Sir Richard Branson is right: personality is critical to success - for brands as well as people. Don't leave it to chance!


I've just been reading Richard Branson's Influencer post on LinkedIn about the importance of personality in recruitment. He points out that personality is critical to success of new hires in a business and that it is difficult to measure.

We can say exactly the same about brand personality.

Brand Personality is hard to copy

Nowadays, even breakthrough product features are copied by competitors in months - or even weeks. But it is much harder for them to copy a distinctive personallity.

Research from Millward Brown tells us that strong brands have well-defined personalities and academic research suggests that a combination of an attractive and distinctive personality that allows the customer to express themselves will drive positive word-of-mouth for a brand.

How does that apply to the Virgin brand, created by Richard Branson himself?

Virgin has the 'right' personality profile

Virgin is often described as maverick, rebellious and even a bit edgy - but that is combined with a sense of fun and appreciation of pleasure.  It's that combination of personality traits that has enabled Virgin to challenge and shake up many industries whilst keeping a strong emotional appeal to customers.

In other words, as research suggests, Virgin's clear, recognizable, attractive and distinctive personality ensures it wins - especially in markets that have been stale and stable and stuffy for too long.

We may not be Richard Branson but we can all learn from him how to craft the 'right' personality for our brand.

Don't get bogged down in Adjectivity

The first thing to notice is that the Virgin brand has a very sharp and clear personality that is multidimensional yet very coherent. All the dimensions together define a well-rounded character profile, or archetype.

There is sometimes a temptation for us to try to throw everything into the personality description for a brand. We call this 'Adjectivity' - lots of activity around adjectives that will produce a different result each time a different group of people tries it. It's a recipe for chaos!

Get there faster by using good maps

Personality has been a hot topic in psychology since forever and there are many theories and models to help you think about personality. We use a model based on work by Dr. Jennifer Aaker to give clear guidance and a fast route forward.

Find a good model and stick to it. Richard Branson may seem like a relaxed and informal person but his brand follows a clear roadmap.

So, what is brand personality exactly?

It is simply the way a brand presents itself to the world.

That includes how your brand looks, sounds, feels and behaves.

It's the most immediate way for customer to understand 'who' the brand is and be attracted to find out more.

If you have an authentic brand, the brand personality will reflect everything 'inside': values. vision and purpose.

Brand identity reflects brand personality

The way your brand is presented to the world and how it is perceived needs to be consistent.

If your best friend's personality changed overnight or even from moment to moment, you'd be a bit concerned about them!

That's why the Virgin brand identity is highly consistent across industries, countries and over time: the red color, the upbeat tone of voice and the 'naughty' behavior are all part of creating success for the maverick Virgin and the maverick Branson.

If, like Richard Branson, you think personality is important for your brand, try opento's fun and FREE personality assessment to uncover it.

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