Brand personality and why it’s important

If you’re old enough to remember the competition between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, you’ll no doubt recognise the fight between two very different brand personalities.

One was more staid, traditional and corporate; the other was modern, fresh and a little bit mischievous and irreverent. I think you can guess which was which.

Both Virgin Airlines and British Airways’ brand personality connect with certain people and at the same time, put other people’s backs up.

You may be reading that last statement thinking that putting people off is a bad thing. Well it isn’t. When you stand for something you will attract the people that relate to that (as we’ve mentioned in a previous post concerning your target audience).

Whereas if you don’t stand for anything…well, you will just be another company whose customers will think about purely on a price or location basis.

Imagine if you had customers who loved your brand so much, they were willing to pay more and travel further just to make sure they did business with you? 

So how do you create a brand like that? Your brand personality plays a key role in this. Here are 4 things to think about when developing your brand personality.

1. Create a difference 

How are you different from your competition? Why is someone going to choose you over another company? 

This can be a very difficult question to answer, especially if you operate within a very competitive market. But your point of difference could be your personality.

Let’s quickly look at the email marketing space. MailChimp are one of many companies in this market which can be –let's be honest– quite functional, technically. You are using software to send emails to many people. On the face of it, not very exciting.

However, MailChimp designed their brand to include humour as part of their communication style. As their style guidelines say, “MailChimp has a sense of humour, so feel free to be funny when it’s appropriate and when it comes naturally to you. But don’t go out of your way to make a joke —forced humour can be worse than none at all. If you’re unsure, keep a straight face.”

I love this clear guidance. How many times have your questioned whether it's acceptable to be funny in an email to a client or customer? With MailChimp you know you can be. 

This set them apart from some of the other providers and gave them a point of difference with which to market themselves.

2. Consistency is king 

If you are only ever staid, humourless and very traditional, when you try and make a joke it can seem –as in the quote above– “worse than none at all”. And the reverse can be true. If you are a light-hearted, casual brand and you respond to something in a very traditionally corporate way, it may not chime well with your customers. 

Being consistent with your brand personality allows your customers to relate to you as they expect to. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t change and develop over time.

3. Assess brands you admire

Many of us can get very passionate about brands we love. Whether that be a football club, a supermarket or a mobile phone or tablet.

Take comparethemarket.com as an example; one of the most successful brand campaigns in recent years, utilising those lovable Meerkats that helped to transform an industry. Their brand personality is helping to turn a traditionally boring market into one with some excitement.

We are attracted to –and then stay with– specific brands partly due to their personality. Think about characteristics of brands that align with you and ask yourself why? What is it about their personality that connects you with them?

Then look at your own business. How do you communicate with your customers —whether through your website, blog, or over the phone? How do you come across to them? It could be a good excuse to ask your customers directly.

4. Think benefits not features

I can’t write an article on brand personality without mentioning one of today’s most famous brands, which is Apple. A key differential in their brand personality to that of others is that they focus on what their products mean to you.

Take the iPod. When this was invented there were plenty of MP3 players on the market. Most of them sold themselves on their technical capacity. “1GB storage on your MP3 player”. Apple were different. They focused on what it means for the user. 1GB storage means very little to most people –even more so back in the early 2000s.

Apple simply said “1,000 songs in your pocket”. Their personality wasn’t about getting technical, like most electronics manufacturers. It’s about what they can do for you, the user. That’s what’s important.

Thinking about your own business as a whole or a specific product line, what is it that it enables your customers to do? How does it improve their lives? 

Taking your brand personality forward

Your brand personality is how people will connect with you. It’s how you distinguish yourself from the rest of the competition.

I hope this post helps you evaluate your own business personality with a view to communicating with your customers and potential customers more clearly.

If you need help assessing your brand personality –along with your vision, values and target audience– take the first step and book a Clarity Assessment.