What Is a Brand? Part 5 - The Brand Persona

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Posted Jul 27, 2011
Susan Gunelius
What is branding?

In Part 4 of the What Is a Brand? series, you learn how to develop your brand persona. If you missed Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4 of this series, follow the preceding links to catch up.

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If the concept of branding is confusing to you, don’t think about the term brand at all. Think of your brand as a person, and ask yourself, “Who is my brand?”

Your brand is like a person with its own distinct personality.

Believe it or not, thinking of your brand as a person makes it easy to identify where your brand fits in its market in comparison to competitors in customers’ minds. In marketing theory, this is referred to as your brand position, and every brand has one. In Part 1 of this series, I offered the following question:

Mac vs. PC Ad

Who would you rather hang out with -- Apple or Microsoft? These two brands have very different personalities as depicted in the popular Mac Guy vs. PC Guy commercials (you can watch all of those ads on AdWeeks’s AdFreak blog).There is a reason why those commercials worked so well, and that’s because both Apple and Mac have very distinct brand personas that were easily turned into human characters.

Does your brand have a distinct personality based on your brand promise and consumers’ perceptions of it and expectations for it? If not, you need to help your brand live and breathe its persona.

Answer the two questions below to get started:

1. What are the physical attributes of your brand that communicate its personality?

2. What are the psychological attributes of your brand that communicate its personality?

Again, the Mac vs. PC brand comparison is a perfect example of how brand physical and psychological attributes define distinctly different personalities. As you learned in Part 4 of this series, your brand’s personality is reflected in every customer touch point and experience just as a person’s personality is communicated in an individual’s actions and behaviors.

Dan Pallotta of Harvard Business Review explained this concept well in a recent blog post. He wrote, “Ultimately, brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small. Whether you know it or not, whether you have a swanky logo or not, you do have a brand. The question is whether or not it's the brand you really want.”

Who is your brand?

If your brand was a person, what kind of clothes would it wear? Where would it spend time? How would it feel about global events, pop culture, and so on? How would it speak? How would it treat other people? What kind of people would want to hang out with your brand? These are the types of physical and psychological attributes that define your brand persona.

Do your brand’s existing physical and psychological attributes match your audiences’ wants and needs from a brand in your market? Is your brand positioned correctly or does it need a personality overhaul? Get started by thinking of the brands in your market. Who are they? For example, let’s match car brands with famous personalities to better illustrate this point.

  • Hummer - Arnold Schwarzenegger (big)
  • Toyota - Tom Hanks (reliable)
  • Volvo - Julia Roberts (safe)
  • Kia - Snooki from The Jersey Shore (cheap)

What celebrity personalities would you match with car brands based on their positions and personas? Leave a comment and share your celebrity-car brand match ups!

Once you’ve defined your brand promise, consumer perceptions, consumer expectations, and your brand personality, it’s time to create the tangible elements of your brand. That’s the topic for Part 6 of the What Is a Brand? series, so stay tuned! And if you missed previous posts in this series, you can follow the links to read them:

Still confused about how to brand your idea?

Create a new market research study right now on our Target Market page to test your concept(s). If you have any questions about how to construct your study, email [email protected] or call us at +1 (415) 364-8601 (8am-6pm Pacific Time).Image: Apple Inc.

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