Brand identities, personalities and connecting to global citizens


Humans are naturally highly social beings. We like to be surrounded by friends and family, and share our personal experiences with others in safe communities.

The influx of social networking tools, and their adoption at an explosive rate, nicely illustrates the strong and fundamental human desire for social belonging and interpersonal exchange. And more recently, the rise of messaging apps demonstrates an evolution in social behaviour, a shift toward placing greater importance on communicating and connecting with people we trust.

As such, how a brand exists as a social “being” is similar to human beings. Personalities matter when it comes to being accepted.

Brand personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to it. Brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate. An effective brand increases its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment instinctively recognises and is drawn toward.

If we think about films for a second. We instantly recognise certain characters. The rugged action hero outlawed from society. The baddie with the tortured past. The hopeless romantic. The classic underdog. The wise cop drowning his sorrows in Scotch. We “get” these well-established characters. They are familiar to us.

People understand and connect with these characters, with their personalities and nature of being. Categorising these characters, Psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that some characters, known as Jungian archetypes, are instantly familiar to us because they are primal and instinctive, part of a ‘collective unconscious’ we all share.

Applying this theory to brands, it’s interesting to think of how a brand’s personality can influence things like brand loyalty, community, engagement and even conversions. Many experts claim that if a business successfully harnesses the power of Jungian archetypes, it is on the path to better communication with its customers.

Successful brands have a strong sense of identity, one that its customers or community genuinely connects with. To unlock the power of archetypes is to truly understand the nature of customers. By understanding what drives them, what they desire, and what moves them emotionally, brands can shape a personality, a style and tone of communicating that individuals will instantly identify with. There are many examples of successful brands that fit into the Jungian archetypes. This article in Moz highlights twelve great examples.

We’ve been discussing the idea of brand personalities across our offices in Asia and the UK. Due to digital communications, the world is open and interconnected, with technology enabling greater communication than ever before. Brands are able to reach more people than they ever have been. But a personality that may resonate with US audiences, may jar with Asian communities for example.

It begs the question: How should a brand present its personality and behave in different markets, cultures and context? Or, if it is taken to be a certain archetype by a community, one that differs from its desired identity, should it tweak its personality to better fit with the audience’s culture, behaviour, and habits? Or maintain a strong, consistent brand identity, one which people may not relate to?

We agree that it’s vital to localize marketing campaigns, digital and offline communications and creative assets to remain contextually relevant, but what about the very nature of the brand, the traits that form its identity? Do we localize those fundamental elements?

Few brands have personalities to completely transcend the myriad of global cultures. So it is vital that a brand considers its identity and personality, profiling customers and developing personas, and identifying its core markets and future markets it’s likely to attempt to enter. Of utmost importance is making a genuine effort to understand the people within the communities a brands wants to connect with. This will, at least, mean that the brand personality developed comes from an authentic place and subsequent marketing and advertising strategies are genuinely focused on the people.

The conversation continues across our agency and among clients, but we would love to hear your comments. Get in touch with us via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, or drop me an email.