7 Tips for Developing a Brand Personality and Brand Personas for Your Business or Website

7 Tips for Developing a Brand Personality and Brand Personas for Your Business or Website

By Catherine Kaputa

"Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature,

what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his

action, even though his language so often camouflages what

really motivates him. For if you know these things about a

man you can touch him at the core of his being."

– Bill Bernbach, legendary advertising creative leader

In many ways, brands are like people. And, as I like to say

to my self-branding clients, people are like brands. Brands

take on human like traits as we become attached to them,

seek them out, and assign human personalities to them. After

all, like the friends we have, the brands we associate with

say something about us to the world outside (and maybe even

to ourselves).

Brand Personality

A popular element of creative testing has been to ask focus

groups, “If brand X were a famous person, who would it be?”

It can bevery revealing and provide helpful marketing

information. Often more telling than asking people a more

pointed question like, “Why do you like brand X? The

request for an analogy opens up inner beliefs and

connections about the brand in human terms that most people

can identify with.

If you’re an entrepreneur or involved in marketing, write

down your company’s brand personality to bring your brand

concept to life, and use it as a jumping off point as you

develop all the brand’s trappings – name, packaging,

advertising, web design, what have you

Brand Personas

The counterpoint to the brand’s personality is the customer

persona. Personas are customer archetypes written with a

rich narrative storyline kind of like a casting call for a

movie script. Rather than think in terms of your target

market as a generic demographic group, say women 25 – 54,

you write a persona about two or three protypical customers,

like Vera, Sarah and Nora. Personas are used by ad agencies

to help the creative people in developing the advertising,

and are now making a big impact in website design and

internet marketing. (It’s much easier to develop a website

that people like Vera, Sarah and Nora will like, than

designing for generic, faceless people.

Personas provide insight into your target groups. Of course,

you need to visualize what your personas look like

physically, but you also want to explore what makes them

tick. What do they like? Hate? What is the context of their

lives? What’s the back story? You’ll find that personas make

the branding job infinitely easier. Personas help to set the

right tone for your PR, advertising, web design and even

product development.

Here are some tips from my new book, U are a Brand, on how

to develop brand personas:

– Create a fictional bio for each persona. You want to

really know these people as a close friend so that your

company or product will fit the bill. Made sure you can

answer questions about the context of their lives - how they

live and what they do.

– Tap into your inner Freud: Tap into what the “needs” -

spoken and unspoken - of your personas. What do they want?

What are their motivations? What bugs them? What’s

important? Here is where your intuition can help fill in the


– Think outside-in: Begin brand development from the

persona’s perspective (Outside). What are their biases and

proclivities? Then, develop the Inside (the marketing

messages, product design, website design and content) that

will appeal to the persona’s mindset

– Think in terms of target markets: Be focused and specific:

a company or product that tries to satisfy everyone,

satisfies no one. Build your personas around specific,

though fictional, people. They should read not as statistics

but people you might meet on the street.

– Build a strong visual identity: When you develop your

personas, use pictures and other visual references so that

you and your marketing people can clearly visualize each

persona. If you can dream about them, then you’ve really

done your job.

– Trigger the right connections: Find the trigger words and

hot buttons that appeal to your brand’s personas and use

them in your marketing.

– Tap into soft power. Soft power is about attracting people

through branding and other soft ideas: product name, style,

and design. If you really understand your personas, this

will be easy.

Catherine Kaputa is a brand strategist, speaker and author

of U R a Brand, How Smart People Brand Themselves for

Business Success (www.urabrand.com). Entrepreneurs and marketing mavens can visit BrandEspresso, a

website dedicated to branding double shots for growing

companies (www.brandespresso.com). For personal branding

tips and advice, visit www.selfbrand.com.


Catherine Kaputa is a brand strategist, speaker, founder of SelfBrand www.selfbrand.com and award-winning author. Her book, Breakthrough Branding won the Silver Medal, Book of the Year Awards, 2012. Her book, You Are a Brand! won the Ben Franklin Award for Best Career Book. Her latest book is Women Who Brand (2014). Contact Catherine@selfbrand.com

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