Glenn Reid is CEO of Belfast start-up, dip. He is a marketer with a wealth of experience in the legal sector and is particularly interested in brand development. He has applied his own research to the brand development practices of many businesses in different sectors, including some of his own, and it always starts with the secret he shares in this blog post.
The psychology of the brand
What comes to mind when we talk about branding? If it’s just logos and slogans then I’d like to take this opportunity to attempt to change how you think about what a brand actually is. There is a secret to developing a valuable authentic brand and I’m going to help you understand what it is in this guest blog post.
Lots of marketers and business owners perceive a brand to be nothing more than what can be seen on the surface. The logos, the imagery, the ad copy and jingles. These things are important but without substance or meaning they’re hollow. The best brands in the world, although wildly different, share one common denominator. Are you ready for it?
That’s the secret! It means the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal, object and of course, a business. It’s really that simple. Great brands are anthropomorphic entities capable of forming values, personalities and relationships, just like a human. Before you stop reading and assign my writing to the marketing fluff pile, let’s get pragmatic. How do we turn the intangible brand into a living entity?
It stands to reason that we build a brand just like we build a person and that starts with values. Values are instilled upon us humans through our upbringing and years of lived experiences. Thankfully, when it comes to brands, we can assign values in a matter of seconds rather than years. Brand values are self-allocated (by you) and most businesses spell out theirs in a mission statement. Typically they’re broad and sweeping such as Google’s famous “don’t be evil”, but you can be as specific as you like. You might even want to base the values on the consumers it serves.
Either way, they’re important to get right as research has suggested that consumers are able to connect with brands at an emotional level if they share common values. A strong set of values that are inherently believed at every level of the business are fundamentally important to grow a strong brand. Without them, the next step in anthropomorphising your brand isn’t possible.
From our values, personalities start to form. Personalities can be characterised by an amalgamation of different levels of the big 5 traits. The big 5 consist of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Clinical psychologists segment their patients based on these traits and we as marketers and business owners should do the same thing to our brands. To build a great brand, you need to give it a personality and consistently show it off with every opportunity. Is your brand going to be a trailblazing maverick of sass that’s low on agreeableness, like Paddy Power? Or perhaps it’ll be high on conscientiousness, like Apple?
So we’ve now established that allocating values is the best way to develop a personality for your anthropomorphic brand. Now it’s time to get it out there and face the world. Arguably, amplifying your brand’s new found voice is the hardest part as it requires determination and consistency. Every single action your business takes, be it an internal policy or a tweet, should appear as if it’s the action of your brand. To achieve this, a little bit of acting is required on the part of those responsible for representing the brand. Whatever the scene may be, they’re to play the character of the brand.
So here’s a quick recap on the secret of developing a great brand. You start with the values, then establish personality traits befitting of them. Once you’re confident that you have an authentic and organic mix that your target market will like, start communicating the brand through every single communication it carries out. Good luck!
I flesh the concept of anthropomorphising brands through values and personalities out even further in my paper, Value Amplification Model: Developing Authentic Brands Through an Exploration of Corporate Values. It’s available here.
Thanks for reading and happy branding.
A big thank you to Glenn for writing such an insightful and informed piece for our Guest Blog feature. If you’d like to reference some of Glenn’s information you can do so here. If you’d like to be involved in our guest blogging segment, contact us via our website or on Instagram!