Is Your Brand Identity a Celeb? Uh-Oh.

March 6, 2013by Jeane Kropp

Quick question: Is your brand’s identity Madonna? Tom Hanks? Clark Gable? Uh-oh.

If your brand’s identity or personality is defined as a famous person, you’re risking a lot of confusion.

A branding trap we’ve seen marketers fall into time and again is to buy into the notion of their brand’s personality as a real living being. A brand’s personality is real and dynamic, but it’s not one person. And one person is not understood by everyone in precisely the same way.

So, your brand is the “John Wayne” of your category? Well, does that mean John when his name was Marion or when he was an athletic tackler on UCS’s football team? Or possibly the determined John when he was fighting cancer, or the patriotic John who supported the US military?

Equating your brand personality to a real person is fraught with ambiguity. Instead, ensure clarity by adhering to a “brand nature.” Select four personality words. Yes, only four. And yes, words that describe personalities—that eliminates words like “value” and “superior.” If you’re stuck, imagine your brand walking into a cocktail party. How would the other guests describe its demeanor? Is it strong and serious or fun loving and gregarious? Those are the types of words you seek. So, the John Wayne brand, if it were the patriotic John Wayne, could be loyal and heroic.

Take our advice: thinking of it this way eliminates arguments over whether your brand is Steve Martin, awkward dad in “Father of the Bride,” or Steve Martin, soulful composer. Is that really what you want to spend your time debating?

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