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Why You Should Think Of Your Brand As A Person

June 21, 2017

One problem I often come across is marketing and leadership teams is the issue of not being unified in the way they believe a brand should behave or communicate. This typically stems from a culture of thinking about brands as a commodity or an object. This should not be so. One of the core aspects of our branding methodology here at Fifteen is to view brands as people and to help the people who govern them to think of their brands as people too. At first sight, this might be a strange concept but it is well grounded in phycology. Once this is appreciated by a marketing team it can be a really helpful way of getting everybody on the same page in terms of strategy and help the brand communicate clearly.

Brands are not simply a logo, a set of colours and fonts. A “brand” is the meaning which your audience attaches to your offering. “Branding” is the management of that meaning and thinking of your brand as a person can help to inform the way the brand presents itself.

This process of humanising brands is termed “brand anthropomorphism” (that will help you when you next play scrabble). It means; to make your brand more like a human. To think about it in a human way, how it dresses, how it speaks how it behaves. What’s its story? How does it connect with customers on an emotional level?

So if you can understand your target audience and how they perceive their self-image and what their motivations are and then intermix this with communications which help your audience connect with the meaning of your brand you will be on course to get a high level of brand loyalty.

If you want to find out more about brand anthropomorphism why not head over to this article “Humanising a Brand: Consumer Relationships Through an Anthropomorphic Lens” by Kristen Calabro.

How it works in simple terms

Imagine for a moment you are motivated to achieve something in your life. Let’s say you hope to travel around Italy – but you have no idea of exactly where to visit, the culture or how to go about it. You have a friend who, a few years back, had lived in Italy for 6 months. When you met up with that friend you would discuss your plans with them, ask advice and look for guidance around your plans. You go to this person to fulfil your motivation for guidance and knowledge.

Another example might be that you have had a hard week. You are looking to be uplifted, have a laugh and an enjoyable time on a Friday night. You might give a friend a call who you know is a great entertainer to see what they are doing and to see if you can spend the evening with them. You go to this person to fulfil your motivation of wanting to have fun.

The truth is we all view brands in the same way. Needing knowledge about travelling? We’d head over to Trailfinders or a travel agent like Thomas Cook. Want to be entertained? We’d check out Netflix. Want to go running? Head for Nike. Need a computer which breaks all the rules? Get to an Apple store. Want to relive some of your childhood? Grab a Coke. Brands take the place of people in our minds. We go to them to help us achieve our motivations. In this way, we think of brands like we think of people.

Brand behaviour

Brands, therefore, are like living beings. They are born, they speak and behave, they help us, they age, and sometimes they die. Some brands we fall in love with. Others we hate. They help us make a choice. Connecting with them says something about us.

So what does this mean? Well, when setting marketing and communication strategies if you know your brand personality you will have a guide on how your brand will behave.

If your brand is the gatekeeper of knowledge and people come to you for serious information and insight, you will not have “jokey” and funny puns in your copy. You will behave in a way which customers would expect from a serious, intelligent, person. 

If you are an entertaining “Jester” style brand then you and your team will know that boring corporate stock images and long lengthy walls of text will not reflect who you are and jar with your audience. Jargon and “serious” business talk will not appear in the presentation of your brand. Vibrant colours and visuals will be suitable. If you look to do a collaboration with a celebrity you would choose a comedian like Michael McIntyre rather than an ex-politician like Tony Blair.

Brand presentation

Knowing your brand personality will help you to brief creatives. If you think about people, the way we dress reflects who we are. The same is with brands. If you dress your marketing collateral like a corporate but are in fact quite the opposite you will be found out and the meaning people attach to your brand from your marketing will be destroyed when they come face to face with the reality. They will not trust you for this and so you will find it hard to close sales.

Body language says a lot about people. They way they act. The way they stand. If your brand was a person how would it walk into a crowded room? Would it dance in? Would it walk in assured of itself? Would it be unassuming? Could it even be shy and bashful?

How does your brand speak? What’s it’s “tone of voice”? Like people brands communicate in the written and spoken word. If you don’t know who you are you might find your brand is schizophrenic in its communication styles.

So, to solve the issue of not being able to agree on how to present your brand why not take a step back and think of your brand as a person. Add in heaps of personality and define your brand persona. Then you will be ready to work more strategically on how the brand presents itself and how it will behave from a marketing perspective. Good luck!




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