There are countless variables at play determining why one consumer chooses to purchase one brand over another. Some consumers are highly influenced by social media branding which reflects brand personalities that are consistent with their own self-concept, which in some cases, the bond between consumer and brand is sometimes based on their DESIRED self-concept rather than their actual image.
Five key dimensions of brand personality include Brand Competence, Brand Sincerity, Brand Excitement, Brand Sophistication, and Brand Toughness. Many brands choose to use a brand character as a vehicle to express their brand personality and facilitate their brand storytelling process. The following are examples of five such brands which have created successful brand characters that are used extensively in their marketing communications, especially when it comes to social media for business where the interaction between a brand and their consumer is always an ongoing conversation.
Brand Personality #1: Brand Competence
Are You Branding Your Expertise?
The first dimension of brand personality is brand competence. The attributes represented by this brand personality are intelligence, success, reliability and expertise.
Does everyone remember actor Dennis Haysbert playing U.S. President, David Palmer in the hit TV series, 24? Never has an actor in recent memory been as convincing as the most powerful man in the world. If Dennis Haysbert had run for office shortly after his run on the show 24, I may have trusted him enough to vote this actor into office.
Apparently the folks over at All State Insurance felt the same way about the perceived competence of President David Palmer, ahem, actor Dennis Haysbert. After a few seasons playing the President of the United States on TV, All State placed their brand in the good hands (and voice) of Dennis Haysbert. Could you think of a stronger brand character to represent expertise and reliability? As a result, All State has been extremely successful with Dennis Haysbert as their brand character in not only their social media campaigns, but also in their traditional ad campaigns on television, radio and print media.
Brand Personality #2: Brand Sincerity
Do You Have a Genuine Brand?
The second dimension of brand personality is brand sincerity. Genuine, honest, wholesome and cheerful come to mind when thinking of the traits associated with this dimension.
With so many advertising outlets currently available to a brand from traditional print to marketing through social media, today’s public is more skeptical than ever when it comes to a brand’s true level of sincerity. Day in, day out, consumers are inundated with brand messaging throughout the day, social media activity streams flooded with special events promotions, discounts and contests to win free products or services. Unfortunately, too many of these brand messages provide very little value to consumers, thereby tainting public perception on whether brand sincerity is closer to being an oxymoron than an attainable personality trait for a brand.
Enter Bibendum, otherwise known as the Michelin Man. This happy-go-lucky brand character is just as cheerful and wholesome as it is disarming. How can anyone not like this roly-poly, sporty figure who exudes the wholesomeness of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz combined with the unpretentiousness of a Forrest Gump?
Bibendum has been a staple throughout Michelin’s marketing communications for more than a century, and has become an integral part of Michelin’s social media marketing strategy in the last few years. His longevity and consistency as Michelin’s global brand ambassador helps solidify the brand’s personality with qualities of being genuine and lighthearted.
Brand Personality #3: Brand Excitement
How Daring is Your Brand?
The third dimension of brand personality is brand excitement which contains such traits as playful, daring, imaginative, and spirited.
Most Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers will remember Mr. Whipple, the supermarket manager, who scolded customers who couldn’t resist “squeezing the Charmin.” These classic ads which played from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, were hugely successful for Charmin, catapulting the brand to new heights within pop culture. One would be hard-pressed to find someone in the United States that wasn’t familiar with Mr. Whipple and their “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” campaign.
The turn of the century brought about a big change for the Charmin brand, introducing a re-brand which introduced a new brand character, The Charmin Bear, first introduced in a 2004 Super Bowl commercial.
This always playful and sometimes daring brand character has made a once taboo subject of talking about what goes on behind the closed bathroom door, an open and ongoing conversation on social media. Charmin’s content marketing strategy involves having the unabashed Charmin Bear providing their fans on social media fun-loving reminders and tips about using their product, unafraid of conservative critics who might miss the innocence of Mr. Whipple of Charmin’s past.
Taking their brand excitement to even greater heights, Charmin even produced a hip, 30-second song with the lyrics, “You’re my Number 1, when I go Number 2.” We’ve come a long ways since the Mr. Whipple days.
Brand Personality #4: Brand Sophistication
Would James Bond Ever Use Your Brand?
The fourth dimension of brand personality is brand sophistication. Common characteristics associated with this dimension include charming, refined, elegant, and poise.
We’ve all seen advertisements featuring this debonair gentleman with a neatly trimmed white beard known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Played by New York stage actor, Jonathan Goldsmith, The Most Interesting Man in the World is brand storytelling at its best, showing this man conquering adventure after adventure, reflecting a brand hero that has truly lived his life to the fullest. We always see him in the end, the focus of a social setting and surrounded by beautiful women as he makes his classic brand endorsement, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” At the very end of each of the Dos Equis’ advertisements, this iconic brand character signs-off with the phrase: “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
Ever since Dos Equis began promoting this brand personality in 2006, brand awareness and sales have soared. Who wouldn’t aspire to live the life and drink the beer of this charming and sophisticated brand hero?
Brand Personality #5: Brand Toughness
Can Your Brand Stand Tall Against Its Fiercest Competitors?
The final dimension of brand personality is brand toughness. Powerful, forceful, potent and outdoorsy come to mind when thinking of the traits associated with this dimension.
Can you think of a tougher brand personality than Brawny Paper Towels and their iconic Brawny Man? Updated in 2004 with more muscle and minus his previous 70s mustache, this brand character has been a staple for tackling the toughest of stains in the kitchen and beyond for 40 years.
Can your brand be identified by one of these brand personalities? If not, you must ask whether you are providing enough for your current customers and prospective customers to recall and identify your brand at those very important moments when they’re faced with making a purchasing decision. Brand personality is industry and size agnostic. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high-fashion brand or a small, mom n’ pop restaurant, having a focused brand personality is what separates you from the crowded pool of competitors in your own backyard.
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If you are interested in learning more about brand storytelling, we encourage you to reach out to our social media agency, ImagiBrand, where we will work closely with you on developing your brand story and provide your company the customized social media training and/or daily social media management services to make sure that story is heard and seen every day on social media.
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