Brand personality is at the core of every great brand. From Innocent Drinks’ cheeky, irreverent language to BMW’s confidence, every brand has a personality dictating the tone of their language, imagery and style. That’s why, whenever I work with someone to define and create their brand, I start with defining the brand personality.
Defining brand personality
It can be difficult to nail a brand’s personality down, however. The method I used previously involved gathering a group of stakeholders and handing them each a sheet of post-it notes. Then I asked them to start listing attributes that describe their company. It can be an effective process, prompting discussion around different personality traits and the positive and negative associations certain words might carry.
There was always one issue though: the vast number of adjectives that exist in the english language. When you hand someone a piece of paper and ask them to use any word to describe their brand personality, they are swamped by the number of options available.
Analysis paralysis kicks in when someone has so many choices they become unable to pick just one. The answer is to limit the choices to a smaller set, but this would create too much compromise for a brand personality workshop. Forcing people to shoehorn their brand around unsuitable character traits is just not useful.
The Brand Deck
I can’t remember where I first saw the Brand Deck by Simple.Honest.Work, but I can remember having one of those “Why didn’t I think of that!?” moments. It was such an elegant solution to the brand personality process.
The Brand Deck started of as a project on Kickstarter. It consists of 50 cards printed with 2 opposing character traits, one on each side. The remaining 4 cards are printed with category headers: “You are”, “You are not”, “N/A”, and “You are torn”. The aim is simple: you lay out the four header cards on a table, and then go through each of the 50 cards in the deck. By the end you will have placed each card into one of the four categories.
What you are, and what you aren’t
Because the cards are printed with opposing traits on each side they encourage discussion around the meanings of each. For example, is it more fitting to describe your brand as “small”, or to make it clear you aren’t “big”? Is your offering “simple” or definitely not “complex”? It may sound like a small detail, but sometimes stating what your aren’t is more important than saying what you are.
Once you’ve worked through the pack it’s time to start whittling your cards down by keeping the most relevant traits. By the end you have a group of 3-6 strong characteristics that can define your brand personality.
Perhaps the real strength of the Brand Deck is just how enjoyable the process can be. Discussing and considering different aspects of your business is a really worthwhile activity. Choosing a small number to rally behind can really help focus people’s attention on what’s important to their customers. Fianlly, understanding your own brand personality helps show you how to stand out from your competition.
The whole process can be really valuable for any business, whether they’re considering a rebrand or just want to realign their current thinking and make sure everybody is pushing in the same direction.
What’s your brand personality?
If you would like to explore your brand personality speak to me about holding a branding workshop. It can be a really great way to check the health of your brand and make sure your staff are all reading off the same hymn sheet.