Who Do You Think You Are? Measuring Brand Personality through Online Surveys

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Posted Dec 06, 2011
Kathryn Korostoff

Do you know what your company’s brand personality is? Or to be precise, do you know what you hope your brand personality is? Can you compare that to how people actually perceive your brand? In an ideal world, the brand personality you intend to have is the same as how target customers perceive your brand.

It should come as no surprise that brands have personalities, just as individuals do. Think for a minute of these companies, and notice what comes to mind:• Ferrari/Ford• Apple/IBM• Southwest/United AirlinesChances are that for each of those pairings, you have an image of what those companies represent – what their personalities are, and how that distinguishes them from one another. Different adjectives may come to mind like exciting, fun, kind or conservative, boring, and rude. Fair or not, the way your company is perceived by target customers matters when it comes to marketing, so it’s important that you know—honestly—what customers think. One way to find out is by using an online survey.

Brand Personality Matters

Why should you bother measuring customer perceptions of your brand’s personality using an online survey? So that you can manage it, of course. Look, you probably already have a brand strategy, whether you’ve thought about it consciously or not. Whether you’re in a start-up organization or a mature company, there are certain traits that you portray to your target market in hopes of catching their attention, gaining their trust or otherwise engaging with them for sales.As you start to think about crafting an online survey, think carefully about what you want your brand personality to be. While there are many aspects to developing brand personality, there are some fundamental attributes that are useful to think about, and it’s often easiest to think of them in pairs or “opposites” if you will. Which of the following would you like to be part of your brand personality? And wouldn’t you like to know what your target market thinks about your brand’s personality along these different continuums?• Mature versus youthful — remember “This is NOT your father’s Oldsmobile”? That tag-line was an attempt to break the perceived “old persons car” perception of that brand.• Traditional versus modern — Depending on your audience, “traditional” and “modern” can have very different implications. Some target markets will view “traditional” as a positive, and some as a negative, and the same may be true for “modern”.• Fun versus boring — also varies with the perceiver. Southwest Airlines is fun, but not everyone want’s their airline to be “fun”, especially if they equate “fun” with “careless”. For some target markets, “boring” is good.How about warm versus formal? Fast versus slow? Friendly versus rude? Extravagant versus frugal? Generous or stingy? You get the picture.Knowing the significance of brand personality, and now having some idea of the various ways it can be expressed, you can use an online survey to get a sense of what your target market thinks of your brand. As we’ve discussed before, asking an open question (“What do you think of company “X”?”) isn’t very useful. If we give them a pair of attributes, however, and ask them to place our company along a continuum between them, we begin to get useful information (you can do this easily using the sliders question format in AYTM). It can also be enlightening to compare that with their perception of your competition. Are you more likely to be considered fun or boring as compared to other brands? What about

Applying the knowledge

If your organization hasn’t done so already, it’s useful to decide what brand personality you want to convey to your target market, and then assess how well the market perception aligns with those goals. Words like “greedy”, “dull” and “boring” almost never have a positive perception, but if that’s how you’re perceived, you definitely want to know about it!Unfortunately, we’re not always aware of the feelings our brands invoke. You don’t want to be caught in the position of thinking you’re a Lexus, when the target market thinks you’re a Kia.

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