How to Uncover Your Brand’s Personality

How to Uncover Your Brand’s Personality

Debbie O’Connor (pictured below) is founder and creative director for branding studio White River Design, and CEO of The Creative Fringe which is listed on Australia’s 100 Coolest Companies. In this guest post, says brands do better with a personality and gives her tips to show you how…

One thing that we can all agree on is that people do business with people. So how can you make your brand so engaging that it feels as though you are dealing with a person? How do you create a business that evokes in your clients the sense that they know it as intimately as they might know a friend, trusty advisor or hero they look up to? You build a brand with personality of course.

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As humans, we like to personify things – our pets, even our cars. We give them human-like attributes to make them easier to relate to. Businesses are exactly the same. If you want a business that is based less on transactions and more on emotions, then creating a brand with personality will result in better customer connection and engagement. But how do you go about doing that? After all, your business is not a person. Firstly we need to understand what brand personalities are.

In the late 1800’s Swiss psychologist Carl Jung studied hundreds of people to define their different personalities. He noticed that their attributes could be defined by 12 key Personality Archetypes. These personalities are so universally identifiable that we subconsciously know and understand them without having to have them explained. Whether it’s a magical fairy, a tattooed rebel, a wise old woman or a powerful businessperson, somehow we understand their personalities and identify with them. These same human attributes can be effectively utilised in branding a business.

What to think about when creating a brand personality?

  1. It’s not about you – it’s about the brand

Most business owners tend to focus on their own personality when thinking about their brand personality. This could be short sighted, as you want your business to be bigger than you. The joy of having a clearly defined brand personality is that it helps attract the ideal customers as well as the perfect team.

  1. Focus on HOW, not WHAT

The biggest mistake is focusing on what you do, not how you do it. Lets take Oprah and Ellen for example. Both are talk show hosts. Both have a huge following, command attention and respect, but for different reasons. Oprah is positioned as a thinker and philosopher. She reflects on life, is an advisor to many, and due to her life experiences she is highly credible. Added to that, she projects the image of confidence, is full of wisdom and always very professional. Oprah is what we call The Sage personality.  Ellen on the other hand is playful and joyous. She takes things (and herself) lightly. She likes to create a little fun/chaos, is impulsive, spontaneous and appears to live in the moment. Ellen is The Entertainer personality. Both are just as effective for different reasons, but they wouldn’t be as authentic if they swapped personalities.

  1. Words to go by

Think of words that describe how you do what you do, and how you would like people to perceive your business:

  • Funny or serious?
  • Rebellious or in control?
  • Innovative or conservative?

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer. You just need to have clarity about how you deliver your service or product, so that you can consistently delivery it each and every time. Once you have your list of words, look at words that belong together. Creating a strong brand personality is not about being all things to all people. It’s about being steadfast and clear about how you work.

You can be a single personality of a combination of two, but more than two is schizophrenic and nobody wants to work with a schizo! Check out for descriptions on the 12 brand personalities.

Once you understand your brand personality you will have the clarity to know how to connect with your customers. It will guide you in what colours, fonts and images to use. You’ll be able to craft your brand language and tone to ensure that it resonates with your target audience. But most importantly it will help you develop a brand culture and experience for your clients and your team.

Being clear on ‘who’ you are as a brand is critical. After all, if you aren’t sure on your brand, how can you expect others to be? If you can build a brand that has human traits, you’ll make your customers feel as though they are doing business with people rather than an organisation. After all, people do business with people.

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Debbie O'Connor White River Design

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