Right Skills

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Defining your Brand Personality

Seth Matisak

Head of Design @ Forward Partners

When creating your brand identity foundations it’s important to remember that it’s not just about making something look attractive or ‘on-trend’.

Your design decisions should be anchored in something deeper. Something that will not only help differentiate your product or service but more importantly connect with your audience on a more emotive level. 

Just how important is that emotive part? Research has shown that emotionally connected customers spend up to 2x more, have a 306% higher lifetime value (LTV), stay with brands for an average of 5.1years vs 3.4years and advocate for brands at a much higher rate: 30.2% vs 7.6%. Those numbers are significant and show the importance of getting this stuff right.

Who is your brand personality for?

The personality of your company represents the outward facing style and attitude that you want to communicate - the face your customers get to know. This is how you build trust, and ultimately make connections with customers in a way that is authentic to who you are.

This personality is incredibly important for your own team too. It’s about having that clear set of personality traits allows them to think about the details of your identity, brand and marketing in a meaningful way. What kind of typeface and typography calls back to those traits? What about colour, textures, art direction, tone of voice and visual language? Your personality helps drive all those decisions and a lot more - and ultimately ensure your brand is consistent across all touch points. 

How do you define a brand personality?

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from working with our portfolio down the years, is there are a lot of different ways you can go about defining your brand personality. Every company is different and every situation unique, so whether you spend all the time and money in the world or do the simplest and quickest possible exercise, what matters is pursuing a process that makes sense for you - and that you ultimately get an output that is both useful and actionable. 



Personality Sliders

Estimated time: 30MIN

This is a widely used exercise designed to spend the absolute minimal amount of time to find a general direction of a personality. The exercise is a simple as establishing a number of contrasting traits on at the opposite end of scales, then placing a dot on each line to indicate the balance you want your brand personality to represent. 

Once your team has completed the task it’s always best practice to let people give context to their choices. This is where the bulk of the 30min will be taken up. Some good conversations and challenges should arise with a consensus reached and final document created.  

Pros: Very quick, gets the conversation started 

Cons: Not incredibly in-depth



BrandDeck Cards

Estimated time: 1:30HR

The BrandDeck is a nice little workshop that can help break up a day of post-it notes and keynotes. Each card contains a contrasting word on each side (i.e. Adventurous vs Careful). You’ll go through the whole deck and place cards into one of three piles: You are not, You are and You are torn. 

The idea is to eventually narrow down the selection of cards to just 3-6 words. It’s great fun to watch teams react to the traits on each card and discuss what they believe works and what doesn’t. You can buy the Brand Deck here

Pros: Gets team to focus debate on contrasting options

Cons: Limited number of cards (although there are extras for you to create your own)



Note & Vote Columns

Estimated time: 2-4 HR

The Columns workshop allows teams to really dig deep into how you want customers to feel when experiencing your brand. The instructions for this are as follows:

  1. Start by creating 6 columns on a white board and name them Culture (how would your community describe you), Customer (How would you describe your customer), Voice (What do you sound like to others?), Feeling (How do others feel after interacting with you?), Impact (What tangible impact do you have on others?) X-factor (How are you different, what makes you special?). 

  2. Taking 7 minutes for each column, your team members should begin writing down as many adjectives as they can for each - in the context of the brand personality you want to create.

  3. At the end, you’ll then allow each team member to vote on 5 keywords for each column. Opening up discussion here allows people to discuss and understand the context behind everyone’s decisions, and is arguably where the majority of your time will be spent. 

  4. Once this dialogue has taken place, no vote to try and get down to 1-2 keywords for each column. By the end of the exercise you’ll have 6-12 useful keywords that help describe how you want your brand to be perceived. 

Pros: Much deeper, multi-faceted exploration of brand personality

Cons: Takes a lot longer than other exercises

Seth Matisak

Head of Design @ Forward Partners

Seth brings 7 years of design experience from around the world including Washington DC, Cleveland, Ohio and Malta having won awards for his print and packaging designs. He has a strong passion for all things branding and helped maintain brand standards for world-wide corporations (Nestle, Nokia, John Deere, Kimberly Clark and Sherwin Williams) while also creating new and engaging brands for start-ups, city organisations and charities while his ability to transition his layout and branding skills to the digital world has resulted in clean, intuitive and modern web designs.

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