How to Person Up Your Brand

Asking “Who am I?”: it’s not just a question for a college freshman philosophy class. 

It’s also an important way to help carve out your brand’s identity, personality, voice, and pretty much every way your brand represents itself to the world for the foreseeable future. 

Okay, yikes: now that we said it out loud, it sounds overwhelming. But, no worries, we can help get you started. 

Consider this a Mini Brand Personality Workshop 101, which requires 0 textbooks, minimal recall of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Power Up the Wayback Machine

To be who you are, you must know who you’ve been. (Whoa.) 

So dig up your old brand books, TV spots, sell sheets, bumper stickers—anything from your brand’s past up to the present. Consider each item carefully and set aside your favorites.  

Then, based only on the materials that make your heart sing, describe your brand’s personality (for realsies) in one paragraph—as if you were describing it to a good friend. 

Congratulate yourself! Then cut that paragraph to 10 words.

Then one word. 

Then meet us at the next step, superstar. 

Step 2: Know Thy Brand Self

Okay, now that you’ve synthesized and simplified how you’d describe your brand, take some time to review your brand’s more recent work (the good and the bad), especially your social feeds and website. 

  • Does this work reflect the brief description of your brand? 
  • Does the voice in this work—how it looks, how it sounds—line up with your ideal brand personality?
  • Does any of the work make you want to edit your earlier brand personality thoughts? 
  • Are you ready to do something more fun? 

Great! Because it’s time to make a list of celebrities or characters from pop culture who reflect your brand personality. 

It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit—your brand is likely a combo of several people and characters, kind of like one of those designer dog breeds. (We, for instance, are Labrador/St. Bernard/Dachshund, aka a St. Blabradox.)

Associating your brand with a well-defined character can be useful because it helps you imagine the inflection and nuance in your brand’s voice—those little details that consumers also notice and, hopefully, come to know and love.

Stuck? It can help to see where your brand fits into your category. List your competitors, a word to describe their personalities, and a character you’d associate with them. (For the record, you can only use “Dr. Evil” once.) 

A+ work! Let’s finish strong. 

Step 3: Embark on a Vision Quest

Grab your favorite multi-color ballpoint clicky pen and your biggest brand aspirations, because it’s time to play Future Brand mADlibs.

Fill in the blanks.

My brand is: 

Right now, our brand voice is: 

But I wish it sounded more like: 

If our brand were a pop culture icon, it would be: 

One thing I want people to remember about my brand is: 

One thing we do exceptionally well is: 

One thing our brand can start doing better is:

And now, for your final: Tell us a story. More specifically, write a vision for your brand. A day in the life that just so happens to be the best brand day ever. Talk about what kind of press it’s getting. The sales results. The accolades from industry leaders.

Describe the mood and morale in your office. Go nuts. Aim high. Dream big. Just…write it. 

And then? Celebrate. 

Because you’ve started the glorious process of building a lasting brand personality, optimizing it with relevant data, and achieving what we in the biz like to call really great results.

You’ll receive your diploma in the mail in one to 1,000 weeks. Or get it in person by meeting up with the people who have advanced degrees in seriously cool advertising. (That’s us.)


About Tim & Gregg: 

Tim & Gregg Brokaw (aka the Brokaw Bros.) own Brokaw Inc.—an independent creative agency that helps brands discover and express their true brand selves via breakthrough advertising, website, and video content. A former Ad Age Small Agency of the Year recipient and recently named #3 advertising agency in the U.S. by Agency Spotter this month, Brokaw Inc. is headquartered on the corner of West 6th and Lakeside Avenue in downtown Cleveland’s Warehouse District. 


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