How To Create An Engaging Brand Personality

Creating a brand for your new business is not the most important thing at first. In the beginning, it's more important for potential clients to know exactly what you're offering - and that you can be relied on to deliver. 

(Of course, what you choose to name your business is an important factor - it should immediately conjure the right tone and identify your niche.)

With time building a brand will become one of the most important things about your business. When past, current and potential clients refer to your brand when friends ask for help in your industry is when your startup will begin to scale and start to take on a life of its own. Think of Uber and AirBnB as two of the best recent examples. 

For more than four decades, marketers have used sophisticated techniques to segment their consumer universes into psychographic sets for today’s online communities. These techniques have been able to reveal hidden truths underlying group actions.

As a result, they have allowed marketers to dig deeper than simple demographics to target messages much closer to the heart of action than general measures like age or sex. In fact, these older groupings have had far deeper roots than today’s like- and tweet- based communities.

At the core of psychographic segmentation lies the recognition that all human behavior derives from a small set of fundamentals, the so-called Big Five Personality Traits. All the broad variation in human action, at heart, comes down to different mixes of these elemental traits. By isolating these human behavioral fundamentals using analytical techniques, marketers can build up full profiles of what is driving the behavior of their targets customers and prospects.

The Big Five originated way back in 1961, but only came into broader use in the 1980s. Since then, it has become a hallmark of marketing and psychology. Everyone who ever took a “personality test” at work has experienced an expression of the Big Five.

The Big Five attributes are:

  • Openness to experience – (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and a variety of experiences. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and a preference for novelty and variety. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret the openness factor, which is sometimes called “intellect” rather than openness to experience.
  • Conscientiousness – (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless). A tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; planned rather than spontaneous behavior; organized, and dependable.
  • Extraversion – (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Energy, positive emotions, surgency, assertiveness, sociability, and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, and talkativeness.
  • Agreeableness – (friendly/compassionate vs. cold/unkind). A tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.
  • Neuroticism – (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability. Also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control, and is sometimes referred by its low pole – “emotional stability”.
booking an uber ride using a mobile phone

Do brand personalities all derive from The Big Five, as if brands were themselves, people? Or, does each brand create its own unique universe, with its own unique set of core behavior elements driving the brand’s personality?

What researchers have found falls in the middle ground. Brands personality, in fact, is not derived from The Big Five, but neither does it stem from random, unique brand universes. Rather, there appears to be a separate set of universal markers that delineate brand personalities. People don’t react to brands as people, but do, if appears, react to brands in a consistent, measurable way, call it the Brand Five.

The emergence of these two sets of fundamental markers for human behavior has made it possible for statisticians, and the marketers who rely on them, to craft rich and measurable analytical images of brands and their customers. These actionable “brand personalities” and the psychographic sets they define have transformed the way marketers can approach target audiences. They have lead to the creation of techniques that drive the development of today’s vibrant, social network communities.

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