My last blog post, “Three Models of How a Brand Personality Impacts,” discussed three ways in which a brand personality can impact customers and the marketplace. And its reception, measured by views and comments, indicated that brand personality is a highly sought after and intriguing concept. Many recognized brand personality as a key brand vision lever for brands that are facing dynamic markets and a fragmented media presence. A brand personality can be a crucially important driver of self-expressive benefits, brand-customer relationships and the communication of functional benefits.

If a brand strategist wants to explore the potential of creating or enhancing a brand personality, then they have to address one basic question.

What should my brand personality be?

One place to start is by deciding which personality elements should be on the table. My advice? To start with an established brand personality scale designed to span products, much like the scale developed by my daughter, Jennifer Aaker. It contains 15 traits organized into five factors as follows:

  • Sincerity—down-to-earth, hones, wholesome, cheerful
  • Excitement—daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date
  • Competence—reliable, intelligent, successful
  • Sophistication—upper class, charming
  • Ruggedness—outdoorsy, tough

This can provide one checklist. Which of these 15 traits or variants would work?

A second source of ideas comes from looking at other brands inside or even outside of your category that are admired or relevant and ask some basic questions. What is their personality? How strong is it? How was it created and maintained? In what way does it enhance the brand or the marketing program? An airline like Emirates, for example, could look at hotels, financial services firms or online retailers for brand personalities that stand out and are advancing a business strategy or brand.

A third vehicle is to look at the “three models…” concept from my last post and examine whether any of these three could be relevant in your business context. They can be the source of ideas for brand personality elements as well as serving as criteria to select from.

Finally, the brands and their offering could be appraised to see what personality elements, if any, are already prevalent. What elements could be compatible with existing image and relationships? It is much easier and less contrived to build on an existing or embryonic brand personality than to try to create one from scratch.

In selecting your brand personality, several criteria should be employed. First, the personality should have a role in advancing the business strategy and the brand. You don’t want to have a personality just to have one. Second, the personality should appear authentic and not contrived. It should be backed up with substance in the form of value propositions and customer experience. And finally, there should be programs in place that will bring the personality to life so that it will not be an empty aspiration.

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