• Adam Morris

Brands—Like People—Have Personalities

Certain brands are adored – others, not so much. Why? The variety of touchpoints (eg. marketing materials, physical spaces, customer service), messages, beliefs, and values a brand possesses ultimately shape its personality. On this note, people are quick to judge and form opinions – whether positive and negative. Brands that understand this leverage every effort they can to positively influence the way they're perceived. Similar to human nature, the brands with the most favourable personalities are often the most favoured as a whole. Appealing brand personalities are also significantly bought into – through consumers' wallets and hearts.


IBM: Trustworthy, Professional, and Ambitious

The IBM Security Headquarters makes apparent the company's diversion into other sectors, as well as its universal brand colour. (Image source: https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/photo/51068.wss)

Known as "Big Blue" in the marketplace, IBM's brand personality rightfully reflects its positive connotations. Powering so much of the world's digital infrastructure (business-facing and consumer-facing), it's crucial that IBM portrays professionalism in all aspects of its business. Tangibly, IBM's use of blue—and subsequent nickname—are reflective of trustworthiness and professionalism (based on colour psychology). Imagine if IBM's logo was set in a neon orange or green – how would you perceive it then? Consciously or subconsciously, colour makes a significant impact – one that allows a brand's colour(s) to just "feel right".

IBM's decision to amalgamate its former name ("International Business Machines") to "IBM" helped the company signal its ambitious desire to be more and provide more than just computers for business. Doing so has allowed IBM to extend its services (eg. Financing and Business Consulting), while entering industries like Healthcare, Insurance, and Banking. It's worth noting that sufficient time was necessary to shift the perception of "International Business Machines: the business machine company" to "the IBM – a respected global business icon with a variety of services in a variety of industries". In a practical sense, "IBM" is less of a mouthful than "International Business Machines" and is therefore easier to remember – memory being a critical aspect of brand recognition.


MOO: Humorous

MOO's humorous personality carries over to its tangible, printed products. (Image source: https://twitter.com/CarolineSolen/status/1105182962176405504)

The Business Cards category (and Printing as a whole) had lacked differentiation and disruption for many years. Not surprising, as ink on paper isn't necessarily that exciting. Print & Design company MOO decided to do something about this. Throughout MOO's website and social media, you'll find puns, wit, and humor alike. For example, when visiting Moo's website you'll likely be prompted to join their weekly "MOOsLETTER". Or, when viewing the company's services, you'll read under Business Cards:


"Impressively premium papers and eye-catching finishes. Because unless you own a time machine, you only get one chance to introduce yourself."

MOO's sense of humor doesn't stop online. Once you've received your business cards, opening the box reveals a message on the inside of the lid:


"My goodness, you're gorgeous! (We're talking to your cards. But ok, you are too.)"

followed by the fine print on the side of the cards' container:


"MOO is a Registered Trademark. Thank you legal folk."

MOO's humor adds a delightful, unexpected touch to an otherwise traditionally mundane product. Doing so allows MOO to appeal to the many small business owners who might lack the budget to use a large-scale printer. Those new to business may also be seeking a more approachable Print & Design company. MOO's "anti-robot" customer service further lends an appealing, human touch. Red Bull: Energetic and Exciting

Felix Baumgartner's "mission to the edge of space" wouldn't be complete without significant Red Bull endorsement. (Image source: https://oursocialtimes.com/red-bull-stratos-space-jump-smashes-youtube-records)

A very fitting personality trait for Red Bull—an energy drink—to possess is of course energetic. Not only does the energy drink itself or charging red bulls logo communicate this – Red Bull's various athletic, and daring events further its brand positioning. Perhaps the most extreme example was 2012's Red Bull Stratos – a "mission to the edge of space" featuring Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who successfully dove from 39 kilometres into the stratosphere. Filmed live for the world to see, the Red Bull logo plastered Felix's suit and capsule, while Red Bull and its brand name had full naming and sponsoring rights to the mission itself. By associating with such an extreme, adventurous, and daring event, Red Bull furthered its brand positioning and personality as being these very traits.


Energy drink brands seek to have a "cool" factor to them. Since consumers must choose between the variety of options, Red Bull has inspired more purchases going their way – as buying into Red Bull means buying into what their brand believes in and stands for: energy – whether it's an afternoon pick-me-up or a freefall from space. Two other notable events that Red Bull runs and sponsors are Red Bull Crashed Ice and Red Bull Flugtag. The former is a high-impact skating race where several competitors skate down a narrow, winding trail of ice in an effort to be first to the bottom. The latter is a competition where contestants build their own flying machines ("flugtag" is German for "flight day") and launch them off a platform – whomever flying the furthest being the winner. Both of these events build Red Bull's personality as high-energy, exciting, and daring.

Naturally, people do business with people – not businesses. While businesses aren't people per se, they can behave as so and embody desirable traits. Businesses that become brands gain an edge. Once done so, brands that cultivate a personality meaningful to their customers are better able to foster brand loyalty. A brand needs its customers as much as its customers need the brand. Any successful relationship, after all, is a two-way street. ▲

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