How to create a brand personality your audience will love!

Brands are like people. We like them when they are approachable and stay away from them when they don’t seem genuine. They can make us laugh, and just as easily make us cry or even feel protected. 

Some brands seem like they are created especially for us, and in rare cases, they even make us feel validated and loved. In other words, brands can make an emotional impact, and the successful ones usually convey a positive experience to their customers.

This blog post will teach you how your brand can deliver this positive experience, starting with defining what it is. And it is worth your efforts, as it will play a central part to shape the public’s perception of your business:

How to define your company’s core values

Before even thinking about your business’ brand character you will need to define its corner stones; your company’s core values. At a basic level, values are the core beliefs and commitments that matter most to your company and the foundation of the way it conducts business. It is important that these values are defined, articulated and baked into your company from the start.

The set of core values is the bedrock of your company’s culture. They establish standards for ethical decision making that contribute to the company’s code of ethics. 

So, how do you define these core values? Don’t worry, I have prepared 5 small exercises to help you through the process. Choose the one that suits you best or try them all:

Exercise 1:

Ask key questions to uncover values

Think about why your company is in business, and consider the impact that the owners, managers and employees want it to have. Ask a series of questions focused on the company’s interests, goals and defining characteristics, such as:

Exercise 2:

Turn personal values into shared values

Maybe you don’t need to look very hard to find your company’s core values. They’re right there, within your own personal values as it is you who made up the business.

Defining core values from shared individual values is a good approach because the people inside your company, and their decisions and actions, ultimately make up your company’s culture. When you align core values with your people’s personal beliefs, you stand a better chance of creating a culture that upholds those values.

Here are 5 steps to help you combine your own individual values into shared values:

Step 1: Ask your team for their personal values

This group should include owners or top executives, the ones who set the tone for the rest of the company. Send them an email asking them to define in one word or a short phrase the four or five key values that guide their lives. Emphasise that you are looking for their personal values, the things that define who they are and how they interact with other people.

Step 2: Identify shared values

Compile all the responses and look for common themes or repeated values. Narrow this list to 10 or fewer values that are shared by the greatest number of people.

Step 3: Compare the values

Now, check whether those values are really reflected in your company culture.

Step 4: Share the result with your team

After you have revived all feedback and made any necessary changes, send the list of proposed values to all of your team members and ask for their feedback. Also ask them to include any of their personal values that they think should be added to the list.

Step 5: Finalise the list

If there is strong consensus to include additional personal values, combine them with your existing values. At this point, you should have a list that represents the collective interests, beliefs and values of your business.

Exercise 3:

Build consensus

For this exercise, assemble a group including executives, managers, HR and compliance specialists, and employees from different parts of your business to act as a values task force. Then, set aside several hours for this group to sit down in a room and reach consensus from a list of potential core values. Here is how it works:

Step 1: Divide the group into pairs

Give each pair a stack of 20-30 cards that have common core values, such as Accountability, Innovation, Passion, Trust, and so on. You can find a list of values from a site such as The Ethics Resource Center:

Step 2: Analyse your values

Ask each pair to choose 8-10 values it thinks the company upholds today, or should strive for in the future. Each team should be ready to explain its choices by describing specific examples of those values in action. Give team members 15-30 minutes to debate among themselves.

Step 3: Compare results

Have each team present its list to the entire group, and look for values that appear more than once. Write those common phrases on a whiteboard or a poster for further discussion

Step 4: Narrow the list down

Invite the entire group to debate the list and narrow it down to a final list of core values. The conversation should focus on how the company upholds those values, including a discussion of the kinds of actions that are, and are not, consistent with those values. These behavioural questions will be important for writing a code of business ethics that protects your core values. If the group struggles to cite examples of any value in action, that value probably doesn’t belong on your list. By the end of this session, you will have reached consensus on a set of core values to share with the rest of your company.

Exercise 4:

Link actions to values

Citing specific examples of how your company upholds its values is one way to make the concept of a core set of beliefs more concrete. So for every value you define, provide a sentence or two describing what that value looks like in action or identifying specific actions that demonstrate your company’s commitment to it.

Step 1: Describe the actions to uphold the value

If you are an organic retailer you probably define quality in the context of your business, which means “Selling the highest quality natural and organic products available.” You then goes further by describing the actions it takes to uphold that value: “We define quality by evaluating the ingredients, freshness, safety, taste, nutritive value and appearance of all of the products carry.” Now, compose the actions for your business ...

Step 2: What your business won’t tolerate

Also spell out behaviour you won’t tolerate because it would undermine your core values, such as paying bribes, working with suppliers who exploit workers, or allowing employees to make off-colour jokes that create an uncomfortable work environment. For example: “We are buying agents for our customers, not the selling agents for the manufacturers.” What behaviour won’t be tolerated in your business?

Step 3: Build the examples into your code of ethics

After you have linked core values to specific actions, you can build those examples into your code of ethics and employee training programs. Employees often benefit from having these kinds of illustrations, which show them what values-driven behaviour looks like in the context of your business.

Exercise 5:

Test your commitment

Whatever method you use to define core values, the final step is testing whether your business truly upholds those values, and whether you can maintain them for the long haul. Try to poke holes in your list by looking for values that don’t seem to fit. Try to identify places where you are falling short of your goals.

The way to test your commitment to core values is to ask tough questions, such as:

How to uncover your brand’s personality spectrum!

Spend 10 minutes thinking about where your company is when it comes to these descriptors:

Place dots closest to wherever your company falls along the spectrum. Try to not over think this, and don’t be afraid to envision where you would like your company to be, even if it is not there now.

I designed a worksheet for this purpose that makes it easy for you to lay out your brand personality:

No subscription, no tricks. It is for free and downloads directly to your media!

Exercise 6:

Where does your company live on the spectrum?

Are most of your dots toward the left?

Your company is a modern and high energy spectrum:

The modern and high energy spectrum ...

Are most of your dots toward the right?

Your company is a traditional and established spectrum:

The traditional and established spectrum ...

Are most of your dots in the middle?

Your company has serious spectrum issues:

Are your dots all over the place?

Your company is a spectrum with potential:

How to define your brand’s personality

Everything you communicate as a brand should be influenced with your target market (audience and customers) at the core. Use the Brand Archetype chart and the archetype profiles on the following pages to identify the desire that most closely represents your customers personality and needs. The desire may not be a direct match (word for word) but aligning it to the most correlated desire on the archetype chart, will provide a solid foundation.

Having isolated your customer’s desire, you can match that desire to the archetype that best evokes that desire.
For example, if your audience desires freedom, then your brand archetype may have the Explorer at the core or if your customer wants simply to belong, then the Everyman archetype will give them that feeling.

Your audience may have a core desire specific to your solution – yet that desire won’t necessarily define their personality. Knowing the desire you want your solution to evoke will direct you to a core archetype and often the industry position. Knowing the personality and broader desires of your audience will help you identify the position you want your brand to take within its space.

First step is to identify the qualities your company’s brand character needs using the brand archetype wheel:

Identify the qualities your company’s brand character needs using the brand archetype wheel on this page.

Then explore the brand archetype profiles below and define which one (maximum two) that matches your company’s customers, product, service and culture.

Exercise 7:

Explore the 12 brand archetypes

Identify the qualities your company’s brand character needs using the brand archetype wheel on this page.

Then explore the brand archetype profiles below and define which one (maximum two) that matches your company’s customers, product, service and culture.

The Creator:

Innovation!

“If it can be imagined it can be created!”

Personality

The Creator has a desire to create something new and exceptional, that wasn’t previously there, and has enduring value. They need to express themselves with their individual talent and strive to bring their vision to life through that expression. Creators believe that if you imagine it, it can be created but are often stifled by their own desire for perfection.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to a creator you must celebrate the creative process while inspiring self-expression. Brands that provide the means or tools to express themselves creatively with freedom of choices would be well positioned with the Creator Archetype. Their communication should stir the desire for the creative process and inspire their customers to express their nature to the best of their ability. Creator brands leverage their audiences’ imagination and their desire to create and innovate.

Brands with Creator characteristics

The Ruler:

Control!

“Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!”

Personality

The Ruler desires control above all else and is a dominant personality. They are authoritative in their communication and in their actions and carry a sense of intimidation. Their goal is for prosperity and success and for that prosperity to trickle down to those that are loyal to his rule. They are confident, responsible and in control of their lives and expect the same from others. Rulers see themselves at the top of the food chain and aggressively defend that position.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to a Ruler you must re-affirm their sense of power, control and respect. Rulers want to feel a sense of superiority. That they are part of an exclusive V.I.P. club. Appealing to the masses will not get the Rulers attention and would more likely turn them off. Ruler brands must provide their customers with a sense re-affirmation that they are at the top of the ladder of success and are part of an exclusive club.

Brands with Ruler characteristics

The Outlaw:

Revolution!

“A desire to change the world!”

Personality

The Outlaw has a desire for revolution partly to change the world for the better and partly for the anarchy involved. They have a disdain for rules, regulation and conformity that would remove any form of their freedom of choice (or anyone else’s). They are good at the core but anger is part of their motivation, which can become the dominant force. Without a fight, they are lost.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to an outlaw you need to prove to them first that you see the world as they do. Status Quo and Conformity are the common enemy and showing disdain for either will go a long way to resonating. Encouraging, facilitating or empowering revolution on the other hand, will make you an instant family (or gang) member. Formal communication should be avoided and your language and tone should be laced with grit and attitude.

Brands with Outlaw characteristics

The Magician:

Power!

“It can happen!”

Personality

The Magician strives to make dreams come true through somewhat mystical ways. They have the ability to take people on a journey of transformation through the experience of a magical moment. They believe that  are limited only by imagination and defy the common belief of the laws of reality to lead us to a better future. Magicians have a thirst for knowledge though they don’t willingly share it, rather they use it to show their vision.

Branding Strategy

The Magician archetype rarely fits a buyer persona but appeals to different personas with their ability to transform. Brands that provide a product or service that take their customers on a transformational journey (Lost to found, Insecurity to security, Worn out to refreshed), could well consider the Magician Archetype as the personality to connect with their audience.

Brands with Magician characteristics

The Hero:

Mastery!

“Where there’s a will there’s a way!”

Personality

The Hero’s main motivation is to prove their worth through courage and determination. They work hard in order to have the skills they deem requirements and take pride that their work rate sets them apart from the rest. They need to meet challenges head-on and carry defeats or failures until they are corrected. The Hero wants to save the day to prove their worth to themselves but also so the world knows of their ability.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to a hero you should inspire them and make them feel empowered to succeed and achieve. They see themselves as upstanding citizens and the bully’s nemesis and they stand up for what’s right. Hero’s want to rise to their ambitions and brands that can acknowledge those ambitions and encourage the challenge will connect with them.

A Hero wants to be inspired by the possibility to achieve and gratification that comes with it.

 

Brands with Hero characteristics

The Lover:

Intimacy!

“I only have eyes for you!”

Personality

The Lover desires to be desired. The experience of Intimacy, closeness and sensual pleasure are what the lover seeks and will use the means they have to achieve it. They are motivated to become more physically and emotionally appealing to increase their capacity to attract others. They fear being unnoticed, unloved and unwanted and because their passionate desires cloud their judgement, they can easily be misled.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to a Lover you need to make them feel attractive or stir their passionate desires for connection and intimacy. Because of their attraction to sensory pleasure, communication and messaging should use sensual language and tone. Imagery and tone of voice are especially important for The Lover archetype. Brands appealing to Lover personalities can leverage their audiences desire for sensual pleasure through sight, sound, smell or touch. The colour red is especially appealing to The Lover.

Brands with Lover characteristics

The Jester:

Pleasure!

“If I can’t dance I’m not part of it!”

Personality

The Jester is all about having fun and living life in the moment. They not only love having fun, they

see it as their duty to be a ray of sunshine in everyone’s life around them. They are optimists and can’t be kept down long due to their ability to see the good in every situation. Young at heart and child of mind.

Branding Strategy

Jesters can be a perfect archetype for brands in the business of entertaining or wanting to  associate themselves with good times. Regardless of archetype and personality, everyone likes to laugh and provided the context and the timing is right, the Jester personality can be a memorable and loving point of differentiation. As the Jester Archetype your brand should highlight the light-hearted and positive side of life with a playful and entertaining spirit. Brands that are able to connect with their audience through happiness and laughter can become much-loved brands.

Brands with Jester characteristics

The Everyman:

Belonging!

“You’re just like me and I’m just like you!”

Personality

The Everyman tend to blend into society as ‘everybody” and don’t like to stand out in the crowd. They’re friendly and easy to talk without being overly funny or overly rude or overly loud. They lend their trust easily though they fear being rejected. They are relatively positive and strive to fit into the group. They tend to have a liking for most things without being overly passionate about one. The Everyman can be quite liked but can also be easily forgotten

Branding Strategy

To appeal to an Everyman you need to make them feel a sense of belonging. Brands that revolve around everyday activities might use this archetype with the message that it’s ok to be normal. Home or family life brands fit this archetype perfectly while elitist positioning or “’re better” messaging would be a turn-off. Appealing to an Everyman requires honest, humble, friendly and down to earth communication that doesn’t exclude.

Brands with Everyman characteristics

The Caregiver:

Service!

“Love your neighbour as yourself!”

Personality

The Caregiver is a selfless personality who is driven by the desire to protect and care for others, especially those in need. They are often maternity figures and take those who are in need of care, under their wing until they are stronger to take care of themselves. This personality is personified perfectly by the nursing profession and though they like their effort to be recognised don’t like being patronised. Caregivers are not just reactive, they are also preventative and tend to be in and around an event of harm, before or after.

Branding Strategy

Warm, thoughtful, generous and motherly approach offers a feeling of safety that will appeal to the Caregiver customer’s needs. The brand may need to appeal to wider audiences as they often require external input in order provide care for those in need. In such a case, educational and conscience evoking messages may be the key.

Brands with Caregiver characteristics

The Innocent:

Safety!

“Life is simple and simplicity is elegant!”

Personality

The innocent is a positive personality with an optimistic outlook on life. They crave safety but ultimately, they want themselves and everyone else to be happy.

They are honest and pure and have no ill-will towards anybody. They don’t hold grudges and believe everyone has the divine right to be who they truly are.

They see beauty in everyone and have a knack to see inner beauty that others don’t.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to an innocent, you need to earn their trust with simple, honest and most importantly, positive communication. Negative or guilt based communication is a complete turnoff. They need to associate your brand with safety and will feel a connection when their inner beauty is recognised.

Brands with Innocent characteristics

The Sage:

Knowledge!

“The truth will set you free!”

Personality

The Sage is a seeker of truth, knowledge and wisdom. Their drive comes from the desire to not only understand the world, but to then share that understanding with others. They are life-long learners and enjoy expressing their knowledge with philosophical conversations. They are more likely to pass on their wisdom to someone who can use it to change the world, rather than change the world with it themselves.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to a sage you need to pay homage to their intelligence as you communicate. Higher level vocabulary with layered or philosophical meaning will be acknowledged and appreciated while over simplified or dumbed down messages will not. They expect factual and well-researched information, which should be watertight to avoid challenges.

Brands with Sage characteristics

The Explorer:

Freedom!

“Don’t fence me in!”

Personality

The explorer has a palpable inner drive to push themselves outside their comfort and conformity of everyday life; into the rugged environment they feel at home in. They are brave, adventurous and love a challenge. The challenges are more about understanding themselves more than proving to others and they are on an everlasting journey of discovery.

Branding Strategy

To appeal to an explorer, you need to challenge them. Challenging the confines of modern life will also allow you to resonate with them quickly. You should promote the outdoors and the unknown as the land of the free and challenge them to explore it, with your brand of course. Modern society is the common enemy in which many explorers live. A stand against such conforms can go a long way to resonating with the explorer and evoking their desires.

Brands with Explorer characteristics

Combine the archetype and your audience

Exercise 8:

Adopt the right archetype mix

Your core archetype will represent a minimum of 70% of your overall brand personality, leaving 30% for differentiation.

 

If you have other brands in your space that are strategic enough to be using archetypes, then you may find yourself as one of many “Everyman” archetypes in your industry. This is where creativity in strategy gets you noticed.

 

Maybe your audience does desire a sense of belonging, but maybe they don’t want to sacrifice their individualism. In this case, appealing to their sense of liberation once their core desire of belonging has been appealed to, could be enough for your brand to stand out in a competitive space.

 

70% Everyman, 30% Outlaw. With such a specific sense of position and personality, a brand can safely appeal to their audience while adding enough edge to stand out  Mixing more than two archetype characteristics or allowing the core archetype to drop below 70%, would likely result in a diluted or confused brand personality.

Exercise 9:

Give your brand opinions and an outlook on life

Once you have your archetypal mix, you can begin to flesh out your brand personality. The goal in this exercise is to bring your brand to life and begin to personify who your brand is from its beliefs and outlook on life, to the way it articulates and communicates.


Pose a series of questions to your brand related to your expertise, market, industry, social outlook, and a broad outlook on the world as a whole. With your archetypal mix in mind, answer these questions in the way your brand views them:

If your archetypal mix were 70% Everyman and 30% Outlaw, then the answers your brand gives to these questions may portray the feeling that  are all one and the same, or at least that is how it SHOULD be, but things need to change before that is a reality.

When these beliefs and opinions are translated into how the brand communicates, your brand is no longer communicating with two-dimensional sales copy.

It communicates as a personality, built around the desires and characteristics of exactly who your audience is.

Your audience is far more likely to remember and like your brand when it has similar opinions, attitudes and language to theirs.

If you didn’t download the worksheets yet, not it’s time to do it.
I customised it for your self-study – all you have to do is to follow the simple steps to lay out your brand personality.

No subscription, no tricks. It is for free and downloads directly to your media!

Congratulations on your brand’s  personal charisma. Remember to use it throughout all company communications every time, and feel free to share your experiences and ask questions in the thread below. I answer all questions and wish you and your brand great success going forward.

 

Thank you for reading my blog!​

Hi, I’m Trine! I’m a Brand Strategist & Designer from Denmark, living in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I use this blog to share simple, efficient, branding and marketing tips, and an honest glimpse of entrepreneurship!

I give professional and constructive feedback on all inquiries and comments. You won’t be disappointed! I look forward to hearing from you!