Brand Personality Can Make Or Break Your Biz. Here’s What You Need
How do you recognize chemistry between yourself and another person? Some normal indicators are that you like being around them, they make you chuckle and there’s just that click. Brands don’t have disposable time and attention span to foster that chemistry, so they must do it quickly through a well-developed brand personality.
Just like humans, brands that lack personality will struggle to keep people around. Of course, people will always buy quality products and read helpful content, but without brand personality, you will fail to convert readers or shoppers into an audience.
You gamble readers clicking away and not remembering you or your brand at all.
In this post, we’re going to cover brand personality for entrepreneurs from top to bottom, covering all of the most common questions and helping you find your style.
Personality for your brand will take time to develop, and there are no shortcuts except to decide, execute and pivot as you go. Use these tips as a springboard.
What Does Brand Personality Mean?
Brand personality is essentially just an extension of your marketing, and your marketing plan cannot be completely successful without it.
It’s how your brand makes people feel. It’s the color, qualities and character at the heart of who your brand is.
Like all marketing, your brand personality must attract *and* repel people. Otherwise, you’re like a magnet with no charge. Nothing (and almost no one) will stick around.
A personalityless brand doesn’t really know who they are or who they’re talking to. Entrepreneurs who haven’t established their brand personality yet often turn to mindlessly using corporate language haunting them from their old habits.
Entrepreneurs are not corporations. Don’t fall into the trap of using corporate language, meaningless plural pronouns (“we’re excited to announce…“) and trying to sterilize your brand.
Avoid This Brand Personality Trap
Professional. That’s literally the whole trap.
Professional language has been sterilized to fit an anonymous corporate image.
Things that you’re allowed to do with your brand personality that are unprofessional in a corporate setting:
- Using emojis in your emails
- Being enthusiastic!!!!!
- Likewise, being sarcastic
- Caring about people’s personal lives
- Making jokes
- Being feminine
- Striking a conversational tone even at the expense of *proper* grammar
Professionalism is where brand personality goes to die.
In my beginning days of blogging, keeping language professional was my top priority. I made every brand personality mistake and I spoke in an unexplained plural tense. The tone was copied from my old corporate job. I didn’t include my photo anywhere because I didn’t want to show myself. This blog started out as the driest blog ever.
We’re talking naan-that’s-been-left-out-over-night level dry.
Be accurate and politically correct, but forget professionalism. Instead, reach for authenticity. Creativity. Friendliess.
Reach for the actual core qualities of your brand, which leads right into the next step:
How To Build Brand Personality In 2 Steps
Once you determine some characteristics of your brand personality, it’s time to start weaving them into your brand and your content ecosystem.
Look at the lines of communication with your audience and intentionally showcase your brand personality there.
Broken down, this looks like:
Step 1: Determining your personality traits that you want your brand to have.
Step 2: Weaving these traits into the right places in your brand.
It sounds simple, but let’s really explore how this should look for your brand.
Step 1: How To Determine Your Brand Personality
To determine which brand personality best describes you, think of human personality traits and see what feels right for your brand. Let’s work through a this-or-that exercise to help you flesh out your brand’s personality:
- Budget or luxury
- Spontaneous or planner
- Relaxation or adventure
- Minimalism or extra
- Fun or formal
- Zen or high-energy
- Professional or friendly
- Bali or the local’s island
- Food truck or Michelin Star
- Hustle or chill
- Firm or flexible
- Carefree or serious
- Expert or peer
- Organized or chaotic
- Rustic or modern
- Subtle or obvious
- Mysterious or straightforward
- Dreamy or sober
- Fiery or calm
Is anything jiving? Most brand personalities will include a mixture of several qualities, which don’t have to be related at all.
Let’s break down how these different brand personality traits can come together to form a unique brand that attracts a specific, tailored audience.
A recipe blogger could have brand personality traits such as:
- Cheap (and therefore affordable)
- Lazy (and therefore easy, not time-consuming)
- Imperfect (and therefore approachable)
I’m actually describing The Cheap Lazy Vegan, who gave her vegan cooking brand a unique spin away from the overdone blond, Lululemon-clad vegan aesthetic and uses her brand personality to portray her recipes as simple and achievable.
Or, a low-waste influencer brand could have brand personality traits such as:
- Simple (and therefore achievable)
- Casual and funny (and therefore friendly)
- Honest (and therefore genuine)
I’m describing the eco-influencer Simple(ish) Living, whose Instagram bio alone makes us all wonder if it’s time to re-write our IG bios with more brand personality.
As a follower of this account for years, I can recount when this creator never even showed her face on her account. She creatively framed shots to always block out her entire face, which, partnered with her booming brand personality, just made her even more memorable.
A blog about remote work could have brand personality traits such as:
- Friendly (and therefore approachable)
- Conversational (and therefore less corporate)
- Budget/cheap (and therefore attainable)
- Wanderlust-y (and therefore aspirational)
That’s my brand, Writing From Nowhere! I aim to be the kind of anti-corporate shelter for people who are unhappy in their 9-5s and want to escape. I want people to feel good enough as they are right now, and readers should always leave my site being at least a little bit closer to achieving their dream lifestyle.
Answer me this: how does your brand make people feel right now? How should it make visitors feel?
And, how do you get there?
Step 2: Honing Your Brand Personality In The Right Places
Ideally over time, you’ll be exercising your personality muscles in every area of your brand. But when you’re just getting established, tackle these areas first.
Focus Area #1: Tone
Tone is a spectrum: a single blog post will use a colorful smattering of tones. But which tones you’re using should be related to your brand personality.
In this blog post alone, you’ve read through friendly tones mixed in with serious sentiments about the importance of developing a good brand personality.
The first question to ask yourself in reference to tone is what tone is appropriate to strike?
For example, websites like WebMD and DMV shouldn’t be candid, celebratory or chatty. People look at those websites as authorities on important matters, and they are searching for facts when they arrive.
If the DMV website was satirical and conversational, you’d probably think it had been hacked.
Likewise, a website about tourism in Nicaragua shouldn’t be jaded, pensive or cautionary. You’re just looking for the best neighborhood to book a hostel in. How confusing would that be for the website to be offering deadened advice?
First prioritize what’s appropriate, and then add your personal flare.
Focus Area #2: Angle
Just like the vegan blogger who took the “cheap and lazy” angle, your brand will also need an angle on the topic you’ve chosen.
This begs the question: what is your unique perspective on this topic? It doesn’t have to be hyper-individualistic; it can be as simple as adding an adjective to your topic.
Funny pet grooming.
What’s your angle? Keep it in mind while you write.
Focus Area #3: Audience
The old marketing adage is always the same: “write for your ideal client avatar!” or some variation of the same tired advice.
Yes, that step is important. But it’s so incomplete without illustrations.
Let’s examine this by contrasting two cookery YouTubers: Chef John from Food Wishes dot com and Gordon Ramsay.
Gordon Ramsay is obviously much more than a YouTube chef, but roll with me.
Chef John makes simple videos with no flash, has a dry, oddly hilarious, very dad-like sense of humor and uses basic ingredients. Gordon Ramsay uses the finest ingredients. He spares no expense in his recipes, He’s posh.
Chef John’s homely, dad-like cooking style would be tone-deaf if he was serving $20 steaks and premium truffle oil.
That’s what it means to write for your ideal reader. Be specific in what you offer. Make jokes they’ll like. Make references that fit their age demographic.
Focus Area #4: Aesthetics
Yes, I’m going there! Aesthetics and vibes matter to your brand. And no, this doesn’t just matter to the younger crowd.
…though this is particularly important to brands that are marketing to Gen Z.
Striking a certain aesthetic and vibe is essential, because, quite frankly: you’re already doing it. Failing to do so intentionally will result in an absence-generated projection of personality. If (if) people stay on your website long enough, they’ll pull together the straws and take a guess, and there are no guarantees that the qualities will be favorable.
It’s the same process that humans go through when trying to figure a new person out. So-and-so’s new boyfriend is really quiet. Maybe he’s shy, or thinks what we’re talking about is boring.
It is human nature, but don’t, let. this. happen. to. your. brand! Don’t leave a void and require the viewer to generate your personality.
Because, most people won’t do it. Most people will click away.
Offer vibes in the type of stock photos that you choose, in the type of content itself and beyond.
Focus Area #5: Writing
Learning how to write with brand personality won’t happen overnight. And the process will actually take longer if you have formal training.
If you’ve been trained in writing in any way, developing personality in your writing will probably mean throwing some of your training. It will go against the grain and be a little uncomfortable. Make that sucker ooze personality!
Because, remember: being professional, concise or sterilized isn’t the goal here. The goal is to express ideas in your unique way, in a way that entices readers to keep reading.
Honing your brand personality in your writing is particularly important for content-based entrepreneurs. Blog personality is what sells your website as much as anything else. Communicating your personality through your writing is absolutely vital because this is when you’re in direct communication with viewers.
Write as if you’re talking to a friend. That’s the entire secret.
Brand Personality Conclusion
What spice, flair and enthusiasm will your brand bring to viewers? Whatever brand personality you decide to execute, don’t be afraid.
Afraid of being rejected, your humor falling flat or your brand personality not resonating with anyone.
There is an audience for your personality that you’re delivering. They will love you. Build it, show up and the chemistry will come.