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A Lightweight Brand Personality Exercise for Small Businesses

What is your brand personality? It is derived from keywords that best describe your brand's character as if your brand was a person. You think about how your brand wants to be perceived by your target audience - how it wants to make them feel. Who is your brand as a person? Is he or she helpful, hip, glamorous, agile, serious, fun?

Think about Virgin America. When we interact with the brand through any touchpoint we get a sense of quality, fun, innovation. IKEA is about cost-consciousness, simplicity and togetherness.

It is important to clarify your brand personality as a part of your larger brand strategy for three important reasons:

  1. Your personality traits will serve as a guide to lead the visual and verbal communications for your brand. Are you serious or more light-hearted? This makes a huge difference in the way you would design your logo, website, presentations, meetings, etc.

  2. It creates a lense for your team to make all decisions through. If a key personality trait is flexibility and this is important to the way you engage customers, then there may be times when being flexible and spending extra time or resources to work outside the lines has a stronger payoff for your brand.

  3. It will shape the culture of your company. When the team aligns to the personality traits, you will find that people have a vision for how to behave as an organization.

We have created a lightweight brand personality exercise that any small business can tackle on their own. We always offer our guidance during brand strategy development, but know that there our stages and timing to pulling in a partner. So, if you aren't quite ready for a brand partner and want to start to gain brand clarity now, let's get started.

How to Define Your Brand Personality

  1. Gather a few key thinkers from your business together. Try to involve people that can provide slightly different perspectives (i.e. leadership, sales, operations).

  2. Print out the following BRAND PERSONALITY TRAIT LIST. Have each team member circle their top five (5) characteristics that best represent your brand as a human. Tell them to keep your ideal customer at the forefront. How would this customer prefer the brand to behave? Also consider traits that are undeniable to the people that currently make up the brand. You must be true to the DNA of the company.

  3. Now, have each person write each of their top five traits on a post-it note and hang them up on the wall. You can use different color notes to distinguish the one that would be most important to your customer and the one that would be most important to you.

  4. Next, pull together similar traits like flexible and agile or friendly and caring. Pull the more dominant themes to the top and start to rank in order of popularity. Then, let each person go around and talk about their choices and why they are important. Through a collaborative conversation you will begin to move your order around and give weight to certain characteristics. Try to get to a final 3-5 traits.

Once your team has aligned on your brand personality, make them known to the rest of the company. We often give a one sentence description of each trait explaining why it's important to the brand. Simplicity and purpose is key here. One sentence is enough as long as you are very clear with the description.

Print them out hang them in the office; share them in an email; bring them up at the top of company meetings. Find any opportunity to help the whole organization embrace the personality and carry it forward through every experience your brand creates.


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