"Brand personality" is a term for the human characteristics or emotions attributed to a brand. Companies use brand personality to identify with their ideal consumers, and then tailor their sales and marketing efforts to that demographic. Establishing a vibrant personality can inspire consumer passion for a specific brand. Marketing professionals usually divide these personalities into five categories or dimensions. Some brands may overlap all five.
A brand personality demonstrates "sincerity" when consumers consider it down-to-earth, honest, genuine or cheerful. The brand doesn't have to possess all the traits identified within the dimension, but it must strongly identify with at least one. Brands that are presented as sincere may appeal to customers who want to purchase products that feel familiar and comfortable. Campbell's Soup, which has used the "Mmm, Mmm Good" slogan for over thirty years and often features family scenes in its commercials, provides an excellent example of a sincere brand personality.
Consumers think of brands that create "excitement" as daring, spirited, imaginative and cutting-edge. The excitement brand personality appeals to individuals who want to add a sense of adventure to their lives or who already live exciting lifestyles. The ideal customer for an excitement personality may include a young, adventurous individual who sees himself as outside and ahead of the mainstream. Dos Equis beer plays to this personality by featuring "the most interesting man in the world," a mysterious adventurer who has done everything and been everywhere, as a spokesman in an ongoing series of ads and commercials. His trademark advice,"Stay thirsty, my friends," serves as an invitation to a more exciting and fulfilling life.
When Competency = Extraordinary
Brands known for "competency" create images of reliability, intelligence, success, responsibility, dependability and efficiency. Companies that market their brands as competent can compete with brands marketed for their excitement by presenting an alternative value. Brands within the automotive industries often compete in a fight that pits competency vs. excitement. So, the car that will safely deliver a family home through a violent storm will differentiate itself from that swift, sleek automobile that conjures fantasies of winning the Indy 500 for its owners. In the information-technology industry, companies may compete with a brand that promises excitement and competency simultaneously. Microsoft marketed the Surface tablet as a cutting-edge device that competently replicated the functions of a laptop within an exciting, streamlined design.
Companies that market a brand as "sophisticated" hope to appeal to consumers who want to feel charming, glamorous, elegant and romantic. Brands in this category, such as Rolex or Harrods, may also present themselves as being decidedly upper-class. These are products for the wealthy, or, more specifically, for those who want to feel rich.
Built to Last
Consumers who identify themselves as outdoorsy, tough and strong want goods or services that will endure. They gravitate toward the practical, but demand more than competence. These buyers embrace brands they perceive as "rugged." John Deere products are rugged by nature, since agricultural equipment must stand up to the elements. The Timberland brand evokes images of camping and hiking, so consumers think of their shoes as durable, even when the footwear is something as citified as a pair of Oxfords. That durability means greater wear, and that translates into more bang for the buck, a powerful selling point.
- Danilin/iStock/Getty Images