The 5 pillars of brand personality

Planning Brands

The 5 pillars of brand personality

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The way your business is perceived by consumers is absolutely key to its success, which is why brand personality is mission-critical, and more so than ever in 2021 when Joe public can come into contact with your business across umpteen different channels.

Consumers typically have a gut reaction towards a business in the same way they might a person - they either feel a connection and a positive affinity, or they don’t. In fact, these emotional connections are so powerful they can have a direct impact on your business’s bottom lines.

According to the Havard Business Review, 95% of consumer buying decisions are based on feeling over logic, they choose to spend money with brands who appeal to their ‘gut’. Put simply, no matter how amazing your products/services are, having an equally great brand personality to match is what pushes you over the finish line.

But how, we hear you cry? In this article, we’ll explain what brand personality is, share the 5 brand pillars, and finish with tops tips on how to make your brand personality a success. 

What is brand personality?

A brand’s personality is what moulds the consumer perception of a business based on what it says, how it acts, and what it looks like. It’s the characteristics associated with your business in the eyes of consumers. 

So, your brand personality is how your business comes across to existing and potential customers and it can either draw them in or turn them away. Naturally then, your brand personality isn’t going to be for everyone, as perception is very subjective. 

However, the idea of crafting a killer brand personality is to attract the right customers, aka your target audience and therefore the trick is to create a personality with their preferences in mind. 

The 5 brand pillars

The five brand pillars are the characteristics and values that make up your brand identity. Your brand identity forms the foundation of your brand personality and therefore influences every consumer touchpoint, interaction, and experience with your business. 

While the ultimate goal for any business when crafting their personality remains the same, the approach they take should be shaped by the unique traits of the business itself. 

The destination is the same, but how you get there depends on your business, so working through the five pillars for your unique business is key.

1. Purpose

What do you want to communicate to your target audience as your purpose? 

You can think of identifying your business’s purpose as akin to your mission - why does your company exist? How is it unique? And what does it intend to do? Once your purpose is set in stone, it’ll inform all future business decisions. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your business’s reason for being?
  • What positive difference does your business make in consumer’s lives?
  • What motivates your purpose?
  • Where does your purpose come from?

It’s important to keep your target customer in mind when honing in on your business purpose. Different missions will resonate with different audiences and therefore identifying what’s important to your target will have the biggest impact.

2. Perception

Perception is all about how existing and potential customers perceive your business and is, therefore, a pillar owned by consumers.

The way they perceive your business will be shaped by information from your online presence, physical presence, marketing, reviews, and so on. 

When it comes to perception, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming consumers view your business in the way you think they ought to. In reality, the only way to get an accurate picture of perception is by asking them directly. 

How do they feel and what do they think when interacting with your business? As we’ve seen, this gut feeling has a big influence on their buying intent so the purpose of the perception pillar is to identify where your business is right now and then shape it to where you want it to be. 

3. Identity

The identity pillar is most closely associated with your brand’s personality - it’s all about who you are as a business. 

  • What is your brand’s point of view?
  • What tone of voice do you use?
  • What language do you use when communicating with consumers?
  • What colour scheme will you use?
  • What about typography?

It’s your identity that differentiates you from competitors and makes your business instantly recognisable in a crowded marketplace. 

Consumers are more likely to turn into repeat customers if they know what to expect from a business, so it’s super important your identity remains consistent across all touchpoints.

Top tip: Imagine your business as a person - what words would you use to describe them? How would they speak? What would they wear? This is a great exercise to hone in on your brand identity. 

4. Values 

What is important to you as a business? The values pillar is all about communicating the answer to this question with your audience. 

For example, your values could be around:

  • Integrity
  • Diversity
  • Inclusivity
  • Environmental friendliness
  • Accessibility, etc. 

Just as with your brand’s purpose, it’s important to align your values to those of your audience. For example, 90% of Millennial consumers would switch brands to support a cause and 87% would buy a product with environmental/social benefits - so if you’re aiming for a younger demographic having values focused on positive change is important.  

5. Experience 

The experience pillar ties everything together and is all about the experience consumers have with your brand. 

  • Is your brand identity consistent across all channels?
  • Are your values reflected in the way you conduct yourself?
  • Are their perceptions positive when they interact with your business? 

If you’ve nailed down the four preceding pillars then a top-notch brand experience should naturally follow and your business personality will shine through.

If you throw together a purpose statement that turns out to be all talk and no action, it’ll soon become glaringly obvious to consumers and have damaging ramifications on your business’s integrity. 

How to make your brand personality a success

Once you’ve worked through the five brand pillars for your business, how do you ensure the end product of your brand personality is a roaring success?

Be authentic

Consumers can sniff insincerity a mile off. Be true to yourself, your business, your goals.

Be consistent

Consumers need to know what to expect and instantly recognise your business amongst the noise. Define your brand pillars and stick to your guns and repeat loyal customers will follow.

Be memorable

Especially for fledgling businesses, it’s all about making a great first impression. You need to stand out to be remembered so don’t be afraid to do things a little differently and stand out from the crowd.

Be trustworthy

Practice what you preach. Define your purpose and values and stick with them. Is everyone going to like it? No. Should that stop you? No. If you’ve crafted your pillars around your target audience and they like it, you’re on the right track.

Be authoritative

Consumers like buying from people who know what they’re talking about. In your industry, that’s you - so don’t be afraid to highlight your expertise. 

Read more articles like this in our blog.

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce


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