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How to Build Brand Personas

Building a brand persona is important for your business. It’s one of the first steps you should take to connect with your target consumer. Don’t worry; it’s an easy thing to build if you know who you are as a brand. Once you know what your brand persona is, you can incorporate it into all aspects of your business to form a complete brand.

What is a Brand Persona?

To build one, you need to know what it is. A brand persona is who and what you are as a brand, especially as it relates to what you provide. It’s how your consumers identify what you’re about, how they incorporate your brand into their everyday lives, and how to make your goals and your message clear.

With a solid brand persona, you can become synonymous with anything you want. If your brand persona is clear, your brand name can even be the generic term for your product. Chances are, you call bandages Band-aids. Maybe you like to take dips in a Jacuzzi. You may even call tissues Kleenex.

To become synonymous with something, you have to market your product in the right light. Think about what you want your brand to bring to consumers’ minds. Do you want to be known for luxury? Durability? Exclusivity? Accessibility? Not sure? Think of your persona as just that, a personality. Personalities have defining traits. What are your defining traits as a brand?

Personality Traits

Jennifer Aaker, a social psychologist and Stanford grad school marketing professor, defines brand personality as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand.” She is credited with coming up with the five personality traits, or dimensions, when it comes to brand personas. From there, each dimension can be broken down into sub-traits, or facets. These dimensions are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.

By deciding which of these traits your company embodies, you’ll know whom you’re marketing to. People who feel they have the same traits in themselves as the ones in your brand are the ones who will most likely feel spoken to by your marketing and like your product or service could be integrated into their everyday lives.



Image via Flickr by Intamin10

The sincerity trait includes the following facets:

  • Family-oriented
  • Honest
  • Wholesome
  • Cheerful

A couple of great examples of brands that identify as sincere are Simply Orange and Disney. Simply Orange shares its sincere brand persona in its name. They are open and honest about what’s in their products, simple ingredients. They tout that they work directly with growers so they know exactly what’s going into each and every bottle of juice they send out.

Disney is the epitome of a wholesome, cheerful brand. Their parks are branded as the happiest places on earth, and a great many people would agree. With parks, resorts, cruises, and television channels dedicated to family-friendly fun, Disney is a perfect embodiment of a sincere brand.


The excitement trait includes the following facets:

  • Daring
  • Spirited
  • Youthful
  • Imaginative

Doritos is a perfect example of a brand featuring the excitement trait. Whether it’s innovative, bold flavors (like Dinamita Fiery Habanero and Doritos Roulette) or imaginative ads, Doritos knows excitement. Their packaging alone is bright and bold. They’ve incorporated their personality into all aspects of the business. Another example of a brand heavy on the excitement is Axe. Love it or hate it, you know Axe for having some pretty daring, youthful commercials.


The competence trait includes the following facets:

  • Reliable
  • Intelligent
  • Successful
  • Influential

While you could easily argue that Apple embodies the excitement trait, it has pretty strong roots in competence. A brand can have more than one trait, just like people do. Apple continues to prove its influence in both brand design and its stance on controversial issues, such as customer privacy.

When Apple wouldn’t unlock an iPhone to provide the government with information, other tech companies followed in its footsteps. Whether you’re an Apple user or vow to never use their products, it’s hard denying the reach and influence the brand has.


The sophistication trait includes the following facets:

  • Charming
  • High-class
  • Elegance
  • Refinement

You can find sophistication in many luxury brands, such as Mercedes and Chanel. However, they don’t have the market cornered. Dos Equis mastered the sophisticated dimension with their “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign.

Cosmetics brands also identify with this trait. For example, L’Oreal exudes sophistication. The brand originates in a place many consider high-class and refined, Paris. Using this alone in their branding gives the perception that this is not your average cosmetic company. It’s a step above.


The ruggedness trait includes the following facets:

  • Outdoorsy
  • Powerful
  • Tough
  • Potent

While lots of brands personify ruggedness, one that immediately comes to mind is Ford. Built Ford tough. Marketing their trucks as powerful machines equipped to haul whatever you need them to, with the ability to make it through treacherous terrain, Ford, is a perfect example of a ruggedness brand.

Your Trait(s) and Your Marketing

As previously stated, a brand can have more than one trait. Which facets do you want your brand to be synonymous with? Using the facets that make up each trait as your guide, you can determine where your brand falls so you know how to move forward. It’s just that easy to build your persona. If you figure out you’re a sophisticated, competent brand, you know you’re most likely to reach a sophisticated, competent crowd that shares your same qualities. That is, if you use what you learn about your brand persona and incorporate it into your marketing.

Just knowing your brand persona is the first step. You still have to consider your imagery and content personas. Your brand persona is the inspiration for the actual design, concept, marketing, and goal of your brand.

While the above five dimensions are the most popular, you can define your brand however you want, as long as you define it and ensure your brand embodies it through and through.



About the author

Courtni Casanova