Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Brand personality improves marketing performance.

Marketing people are always talking about the power of brand personality. They see it as a way to create a relationship between the seller and customer by placing human qualities and characteristics on a company or product. Defining the personality for a brand may be difficult, but finding the right one can have tremendous impact on sales and marketing performance. Since the goal is to add acceptable human traits to inanimate entities, some marketers use popular psychological tests to help define and develop the most effective brand personas.

"Personality: the complex of all the attributes--behavioral, temperamental, emotional and mental--that characterize a unique individual"
In modern times, psychologists have put forth a number of theories, tests and methodologies to help determine and quantify human personality. One popular method suggests there are five dimensions to every personality. Known as the Big 5, many professionals use this theory – or some modified form - as a basis for analyzing an individual.

The Big 5 dimensions are:


  • Extroversion – talkative, energetic, assertive
  • Agreeableness – sympathetic, kind, affectionate
  • Conscientiousness - organized, thorough, planful
  • Neuroticism - tense, nervous, anxious
  • Openness – wide interest, imaginative, insightful

Using these dimensions – and the antonyms associated with the words describing the dimensions – marketers can start to quantify the personality of their brands in much the same way doctors try to describe their subjects. Just as a doctor is able to explain certain actions or prescribe certain treatments based on this quantification, marketing professionals should be able to develop prescriptive directions for more effective and efficient brand messages, promotions and content.  This is a valuable tool especially when a brand leverages the personality of a live spokesman.

Consider three popular insurance companies – Allstate, Farmers and Progressive. Allstate’s spokesperson is Dennis Haysbert, an actor known for playing a senator and the President on the television series 24. Farmers' spokesperson is J.K. Simmons - an Oscar-winning actor known for his portrayal of memorable characters in Law & Order and Oz. Progressive uses the talents of Stephanie Courtney – an actress and comedian – whose character Flo has become one of the most recognized faces in the industry. 

Each of these actors represents their company and brand by portraying a character with distinctly different human qualities. By imparting a human trait to an industry not typically known for personality, the insurance companies are hoping to connect with a larger audience. Is it working? It seems to be, as these three actors have been long standing representatives of their respective brands. More importantly, their characters serve as the basis for all brand exposure across every media channel.

Take the time to test your company brand. There are a number of online resources and interactive tests available.   One test, developed by Gerard Saucier of California State University, uses 40 mini-markers – eight synonyms and antonyms - for each of the five dimension titles. Personality is evaluated by rating these words on a scale of 1 -9 and applying those ratings at various factor levels to each dimension. The average score in each dimension provides insight to your brand personality. Once complete, think about who in popular culture is best suited as your brand spokesperson. Then, try to write copy and develop messaging to match. You will be surprised at how close – or how far off – your current efforts are from your true brand personality.

Download the 40 mini-marker brand assessment file (Microsoft Excel file) to discover your brand personality.

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