What Is Brand Personality? Your Best Character Relates Better

What Is Brand Personality?

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What is Brand Personality? That’s a question any business owner, marketer, or entrepreneur should be asking themselves if they want their brand identity to be much more than just a logo or a tagline. 

A brand personality breathes life into that identity, giving it human-like characteristics that resonate with consumers. It provides the emotional context consumers attach to a brand, helping to differentiate it in a crowded market, foster consumer loyalty, and ultimately, drive business success.

But why is brand personality so crucial in branding and marketing? How do specific traits relate to consumers, and what are the archetypes commonly associated with brand personalities? Furthermore, what differentiates renowned models like Jennifer Aaker’s Brand Personality Framework and Carl Jung’s Brand Archetype Framework? And how do these theories intersect with fundamental human desires, as identified in the 16 Basic Desires Theory? 

Perhaps most importantly, how can you harness the power of brand personality to better connect with your audience, reflect their values, and meet their needs? These are the questions we’ll delve into in this blog post. 

So, whether you’re developing a brand from scratch or looking to refine an existing one, stay tuned here as we unravel the complex, fascinating world of brand personality.

What is Brand Personality?

Brand personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name. Human characteristics and traits are something which consumers can relate to, and an effective brand will increase its brand equity just by expressing a consistent set of traits. This consistency is the similarity between the brand personality and the consumer’s self—to become relatable.

Jennifer Aaker, a marketing professor at Stanford, identified five main dimensions of brand personality:

  1. Sincerity (down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, cheerful)
  2. Excitement (daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date)
  3. Competence (reliable, intelligent, successful)
  4. Sophistication (upper class, charming)
  5. Ruggedness (outdoorsy, tough)

These five dimensions can be used to define: ‘what is brand personality’, representing the characteristics that resonate with the target audience. For example, a brand like Apple might be seen as having a Competent and Sophisticated brand personality, known for innovation and high-quality products. 

By making the brand more relatable and memorable to consumers, it then influences consumers’ purchasing decisions, brand preferences, and loyalty.

Successful brand personalities are not just a list of traits; they tell a story that reflects the company’s values, mission, and vision. This means that developing a strong, cohesive brand personality requires thoughtful strategy and consistency across all marketing efforts and customer interactions.

Why is brand personality crucial?

As a business owner, imagine your brand as a person. What kind of personality traits does it exhibit? Is it fun and playful? Or is it serious and professional? This characterization is crucial as it can greatly influence how your customers perceive your brand.

It Uniquely Connects With Your Customers

In terms of marketing and branding, brand personality aids in creating a deeper emotional connection with your customers, essentially humanizing your business and making it more relatable. It serves as a pivotal differentiation factor in a crowded market. Two companies may offer similar products, but customers might prefer one over the other due to the unique personality traits the brand embodies.

Standing out from your competitors means you’re offering something your competitors don’t – an emotional connection, a story, or a distinct voice that resonates with your audience. This differentiation is critical in attracting and retaining customers.

It Aligns With Your Consumer’s Personality

Brand personality also significantly impacts consumer behavior. Consumers often choose brands that align with their own personality traits or the traits they aspire to have. For example, a customer who views themselves as adventurous might be more inclined to purchase from a brand that embodies that adventurous spirit. In essence, the alignment of ‘what is brand personality’ with a consumer’s self-concept often leads to brand preference, fostering loyalty and repeated patronage.

It Adds Value That Builds Equity

A strong, well-defined brand personality can build equity by: 

  • Enhancing recognition – by also being consistent with their identity and messaging
  • Stimulating an emotional connection – speaking to their pains and desires
  • Building customer trust – acting on their brand promise, values, and overall purpose

It’s the foundation upon which you can command a premium price and cultivate customer loyalty.

Traits That Relate

As we stated above, Jennifer Aaker’s Brand Personality Framework presents five core dimensions of ‘what is brand personality’, which she identifies as Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness. Aaker’s model suggests that each brand possesses a “personality” made up of a specific combination of these traits, and these characteristics are what consumers come to associate with the brand. 

By understanding and manipulating these personality traits, brands can psychologically shape their image in consumers’ minds, thereby differentiating themselves from competitors and fostering deeper relationships with their customers.


Sincere brands are perceived as honest, genuine, and trustworthy. These are brands that consumers believe are not just after their money, but genuinely care about their customers and society at large. Sincerity also encompasses traits such as being down-to-earth, wholesome, and cheerful. 

Brands that exude sincerity are often seen as warm and approachable, appealing to consumers who value authenticity and genuineness in their interactions with a brand.

Coca-Cola - Open Happiness
Coca-Cola is a great example of a sincere brand. Their messaging often focuses on unity, happiness, and the joy of sharing, which has helped them create a brand that is perceived as warm, genuine, and friendly.


Exciting brands are perceived as daring, spirited, and adventurous. These brands are seen as innovative and are often associated with high energy, youthfulness, and a zest for life. Exciting brands appeal to consumers who seek novelty, variety, and experiences in their consumption. 

They are often in fast-paced industries where innovation and staying ahead of trends is key.

RedBull KTM Factory Racing
Red Bull encapsulates the excitement dimension perfectly. With its tagline "Red Bull Gives You Wings," the brand promotes a sense of adventure, high energy, and daringness, which aligns well with their target audience.


Competent brands are reliable, successful, and efficient. They promise quality and expertise, and they consistently deliver on their promises. They are often seen as industry ‘trust’ leaders, with a strong reputation for knowing their business and serving their customers well. Consumers who value reliability, consistency, and high standards are likely to be drawn to brands with a competent personality.

Windows 11
Microsoft, known for its reliable software and technological solutions, is often viewed as a competent brand. They consistently demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in the tech industry, which builds trust with their consumers.


Sophisticated brands exude a sense of charm, glamor, and smoothness. These brands are associated with luxury, high status, and refined tastes. They appeal to consumers who aspire to a high-end lifestyle and are willing to pay a premium for products or services that signal their status and discerning tastes. Sophisticated brands provide more than just functional benefits; they offer an experience that makes consumers feel special and esteemed.

Rolex, the luxury watchmaker, exudes sophistication. Their products are associated with prestige, high quality, and exclusivity, which appeals to individuals seeking status symbols and the finer things in life.


Rugged brands are tough, outdoorsy, and strong. These brands are seen as hearty, sturdy, and associated with an active, outdoor lifestyle. Rugged brands appeal to consumers who are adventurous and appreciate products that can withstand tough conditions. These brands often reflect a love for nature, the great outdoors, or a sense of robustness and durability.

Jeep Ad
Jeep, with its line of vehicles designed for off-road and outdoor adventures, perfectly embodies the ruggedness dimension. Their vehicles and marketing campaigns speak to consumers who value strength, durability, and a spirit of adventure.

Brand Personality Archetypes

The brand archetype framework is a model that is derived from psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes. Jung proposed that humans use symbolism to understand complex concepts, and the same idea can be applied to brands. 

In the context of branding, archetypes are universally familiar characters or narratives that can help consumers understand a brand’s values and purpose.

Brands use the archetype framework to create an identity with consistent and recognizable messaging to resonate deeply with consumers on a psychological level. Understanding their archetype can guide businesses in their marketing, messaging, and overall branding strategy, providing a clear, universally-understood narrative storytelling for their brand.

There are 12 basic brand archetypes that companies can align with:

The Innocent – Characterized by purity, goodness, optimism, and nostalgia. Brand Example: Dove.

The Everyman – Characterized by relatability, empathy, and lack of pretense. Brand Example: Walmart.

The Hero – Characterized by courage, boldness, and a desire to overcome challenges. Brand Example: Nike.

The Outlaw – Characterized by rebellion, disruption, and a desire for revolution. Brand Example: Harley-Davidson.

The Explorer – Characterized by discovery, freedom, and a pioneering spirit. Example: Patagonia.

The Creator – Characterized by imagination, creativity, and the ability to create something meaningful. Brand Example: Adobe.

The Ruler – Characterized by authority, control, and leadership. Brand Example: Mercedes.

The Magician – Characterized by transformation, vision, and the ability to make dreams come true. Brand Example: Disney.

The Lover – Characterized by passion, romance, and sensory pleasure. Brand Example: Chanel.

The Caregiver – Characterized by compassion, generosity, and nurturing. Brand Example: Pampers.

The Jester – Characterized by humor, light-heartedness, and making people laugh. Brand Example: M&Ms.

The Sage – Characterized by wisdom, knowledge, and a search for truth. Brand Example: NPR.

28Lions - 12 Brand Archetypes Wheel

The Difference between Jennifer Aaker’s Brand Personality Framework and Carl Jung’s Brand Archetype Framework

Jennifer Aaker’s Brand Personality Framework and Carl Jung’s 12 Brand Archetypes are two different ways of understanding ‘what is brand personality’. While they may seem similar as both associate human-like characteristics with brands, their core focus and application in marketing are quite different.

Aaker’s Brand Personality Framework concentrates on five broad dimensions of brand personality, which are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. These dimensions consist of traits that consumers use to describe a brand, relating to how they would describe a person. The focus here is mainly on the personality traits of the brand. This model helps marketers understand how their brand is or can be perceived by their audience, enabling them to cultivate a consistent personality that resonates with consumers.

On the other hand, Jung’s 12 Brand Archetypes are more narrative-driven (story) and derived from his theory of universal, mythic characters that reside within the collective unconscious of people the world over. These archetypes, such as The Hero, The Outlaw, The Lover, etc., are story-driven roles that brands can adopt to help express their identity and mission. This strategy taps into deep-seated understandings and expectations associated with these roles, making it easier for consumers to relate to and understand the brand.

In essence, Aaker’s model helps in defining the traits or characteristics a brand portrays, while Jung’s archetypes offer a more narrative or thematic approach to a brand’s identity. Both can be valuable in different scenarios. For instance, Aaker’s model can be more practical in operational marketing activities such as brand positioning or market competition analysis. At the same time, Jung’s archetypes can be instrumental in crafting brand storytelling or developing brand-driven content.

How do these two Frameworks Correlate with the 16 Basic Desires?

The 16 Basic Desires Theory, proposed by psychologist Steven Reiss, suggests that there are 16 fundamental drives or motivations that guide human behavior. These include power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical exercise, and tranquility. Each person is believed to prioritize these desires differently, which contributes to their unique personality and behavior.

In terms of asking ‘what is brand personality’, how can these 16 basic desires play an integral role in shaping a brand’s image and the way it communicates with its target audience?

By aligning the brand’s target audience desires using one or more of these 16 basic human desires and then further aligning those desires with their brand personality type(s). 

A brand that speaks to these desires within their target audience would: 

  • Deepen an emotional connection
  • Meet their innate needs
  • Stimulate their behavior in a way that favors the brand

For instance, if a brand aligns its personality with the desire for “power”, it might present itself as a brand that empowers its consumers, helping them feel more capable, confident, or in control. This can be seen in brands like Nike, which positions itself as a brand for achievers and winners.

A brand that aligns with the “curiosity” desire might be seen as innovative, exciting, and always offering something new. This appeals to consumers who value novelty and discovery. Tech companies like Apple do this well with their constant push for innovation and the “what’s next” appeal.

Brands aligned with “social contact” might position themselves as friendly, community-oriented, and social. These brands often prioritize customer engagement and foster a sense of belonging among their customers. An example could be Facebook or Twitter, which are all about connection and communication.

In sum, integrating the 16 Basic Desires with ‘What is Brand Personality’ provides a brand with a roadmap for how to appeal to their consumers on a deep psychological level. It informs the creation of branding strategies and marketing campaigns that resonate strongly with the target audience by tapping into their fundamental desires and motivations. However, it’s important to note that the alignment should be genuine and consistent across all touchpoints to create a strong, believable brand personality that stands the test of time.

Your Best Character Traits Will Relate Better With Your Audience

To cultivate ‘what is brand personality’, it’s about resonating deeply with your audiences. It’s crucial to first thoroughly understand your target audience, their values, motivations, pains, and desires. Market research, customer surveys, and social listening are some effective ways to gain insights into what your audience wants and needs. 

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your audience, shape your brand personality to reflect those insights. If your audience values innovation and novelty, for instance, ensure your brand personality displays excitement and creativity. 

Next, it’s vital to be consistent in expressing this character across all touchpoints, from your website and social media to customer service and even the product or service itself. Consistency reinforces brand recognition and creates a solid, trustworthy image in the minds of consumers. For instance, if your brand personality is friendly and approachable, ensure that this personality is reflected in your language, content voice and tone, visual aesthetics, customer service demeanor, and more.

Story-telling can be an incredibly powerful tool in portraying your brand character. By weaving your brand’s values and mission into a compelling narrative, you create an emotional connection with your audience, which makes your brand more memorable and relatable. If your brand character is that of an explorer, for example, tell stories of exploration, discovery, and the spirit of adventure. 

Once you create language and a narrative around your brand, align your brand’s actions with its character. Authenticity matters in building a strong brand. If your brand personality stands for sustainability, for instance, demonstrate this commitment through environmentally-friendly business practices. Consumers are savvy and can spot inconsistencies between a brand’s stated character and its actions, which can lead to mistrust and damage to the brand’s reputation.

Finally, remember that ‘what is brand personality’ is, it’s not static. As market trends change, and as your business grows and evolves, your brand personality may need to adapt as well. Regularly review and refresh your brand character to ensure it continues to resonate with your audience and stand out in the market. A well-defined and well-implemented brand personality can be a game-changer in connecting with your audience on a deeper level, fostering loyalty and driving business growth.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, ‘What is brand personality?’ is a question business owners ask to understand how to uniquely blend human traits with their business so they can relate better with their audience. It’s the emotional context that consumers latch onto, setting you apart from your competitors, and creating a unique, memorable identity in the minds of your customers. 

Understanding and shaping your brand’s personality isn’t just about deciding whether your brand is “exciting” or “sophisticated.” It’s about digging deeper to understand your audience, their values, and their needs, and reflecting these insights in every aspect of your brand. The best brand personalities aren’t manufactured; they’re a genuine reflection of what your brand stands for, what it promises, and how it delivers on that promise. 

If your brand personality aligns with your audience’s values and desires, it creates a strong, emotional connection that fosters loyalty, drives engagement, and ultimately, fuels business success. The more your brand personality resonates with your audience, the stronger this bond will be.

However, crafting and implementing a brand personality that resonates with your audience isn’t always straightforward. It requires deep audience understanding, careful strategic planning, and consistent execution across all touchpoints. This is where we come in. 

Our agency specializes in helping businesses like yours discover and express their brand personality. We’ll guide you through the process, from initial audience research to strategic planning to execution, ensuring your brand personality is not just compelling, but also a true reflection of your brand and what it stands for. We’ll help you build a brand that your audience loves, remembers, and chooses, time and time again.

Ready to uncover your brand’s true personality and create deeper connections with your audience? Schedule a call with us today. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together, and let your brand shine in its truest, most resonant form.

Nicole Andrew

Nicole Andrew is a 20 year brand designer, Level-C certified brand strategist, educator, and co-owner of 28Lions, a branding & marketing agency that helps service-based entrepreneurs turn their expertise into powerful brands.