Logo Minimalist

Posted by Thomas

Posted by Thomas


Product branding 101: help your product stand out from the crowd

People love Coca-Cola, but they don’t often have a strong opinion about the other brands their local supermarket sells, even when they taste exactly the same as Coca-Cola and cost half the price. Why? Two words: product branding. Coca-Cola isn’t just soda; it’s Americana and polar bears and Santa Claus. It’s iconic red and white script and six-ounce glass bottles. It’s comfort and familiarity. These perceptions of Coke (as something so much more than carbonated sugar water) is successful product branding in action.

If you’re developing a product, you should be developing its brand. Clearly identifying who the product is for and how you want the world to perceive it will guide the decisions you make through its development. These understandings may even fundamentally change how the product works or how it’s made.

But what is product branding?

Product branding, put simply, is the process of branding a product. It’s the identity you give your product so it stands out in a sea of competitors and connects with the people it meshes with best. That unique identity is your product’s brand, and each of the tangible aspects of that brand is your product’s brand identity.

Confused? This should help:

  • Your product’s brand is how the world perceives your product
  • Your product’s brand identity is the collection of things that comprise its brand, like the font and colors in its logo and the way it’s packaged
  • Branding is the action of creating a brand identity and from it, a distinct brand

For some products, the branding is loud and clear.

coca-cola bottle against red background

via cocacolacompany.com

With others, not so much.

The degree to which you brand your product depends on your type business and on the product itself.

Because let’s be real here: when you’re building a shed, you probably don’t care much about the brand of nails you use. You might care a little bit more about the brand of hammer you use, and you probably care more than that about the brand of paint or shingles you go with.

Branding takes on greater significance for certain products than it does for others because things like perceived quality, sourcing, perceived value and functionality simply matter more with certain products. You don’t care about a nail’s brand because that nail is going to get hammered into a 2×4 and never seen again. In contrast, you probably compared two or more brands of shingles to find one that’s durable, waterproof and attractive—because going with an inferior brand could mean spending more money and weekends repairing and replacing that roof.

When you were choosing between available shingle brands, each company’s branding helped steer you toward your final decision. Branding differentiated the shingles rated for rainy and snowy climates from the ones that weren’t and the shingles that are designed to last more than 20 years from the ones that might not make it past one.

Define your product’s unique brand

Defining your brand accurately requires some self-reflection. Take some time to dig into who your product is for, where it fits into its unique market and which characteristics make it unique. Explore these factors to find concrete answers about:

  • Your values. Are you an employee-owned company that prioritizes responsible labor practices? Maybe environmental sustainability or making high quality products accessible to lower-income buyers is a goal for you and your company
  • Your buyers’ values. What do your customers care about? What are they looking for from a product like yours?
  • Where your product fits into its market. Is it priced higher, lower or about the same as competing products—and why? Is it available on every store’s shelf, in select boutiques or from your online shop exclusively? Is it meant for a specific demographic among your buyers?
  • The characteristics that makes your product unique among its competitors. Is your product the only option in its category that comes with customer support for life? Or is it the only one they can get without having to leave the house? What differentiates your product?

You can demonstrate all those points through thoughtful product branding design. Effective product design (and by extension, product packaging design) starts with visual choices like:

  • Fonts. Just like your color choices, your font choices determine how your brand is perceived.
  • The shapes you use in your logo and product branding design. Shapes, too, convey brand personality traits and steer viewers’ perception of your brand. Rounded shapes tend to feel softer and more inviting, whereas squares evoke a sense of security and triangles can create feelings of movement, urgency and drive.
  • The design styles and imagery you use in your product branding. For some brands, simple line illustrations say it all. For others, photos are a must-have. And for others, abstract 3D graphics capture who they are perfectly.

For eco-friendly products, green and brown are often the go-to palette. Product packaging design by mirza yaumil.

collection of tea canisters in jewel-toned packaging with different zodiac signs on them

Even with a unique design for each tea blend, the collection’s branding is consistent and clear.

But that’s not all; branding goes beyond visual design. Branding touches every interaction the customer has with your product, like the packaging your product arrives in and the way they interact with your customer support team. You can take branding in a ton of different directions to build a stronger relationship with your audience, like collaborating with another product or service that’s on your buyers’ shopping lists or creating a totally unique buying experience through omnichannel shopping.

Create your product’s brand identity

As we mentioned above, your product’s brand identity is the collection of tangible “pieces” that make up its brand. These include:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Social media presence
  • Product packaging
  • Product labeling
  • Taglines
  • Copy voice
  • Product names
  • Email/messaging design templates

Take the visual design elements you identified for your brand and use them to design the components that make up your brand identity. For example, the Nature’s logo is the primary focal point of its van wrap design, which uses the brand’s color palette and includes its tagline.

Chances are, you’re probably not going to find some super designer who can create all of the above for your brand. So to avoid having your logo designer create something that says “we’re as transparent as taut cling wrap!” create a comprehensive brand identity guide. A brand identity guide is an in-depth guide that lays out everything your team needs to know about your brand, like its color palette, fonts, logo variations and overall voice.

Map out your brand plan

Once your product has a clear, consistent brand, it’s time to get that brand out everywhere. Everywhere it makes sense for your brand to be, that is. Nowadays, everybody must have an online presence. That means a website and social media. But which social media platforms you promote your product on depends on what your product is and which demographics it’s meant for. If your product is a line of ergonomic office furniture priced for Gen X and Boomer c-suite executives, don’t promote it on TikTok because Gen X and Boomers aren’t on TikTok. But Facebook and LinkedIn? Yes.

The same goes when you’re choosing where else to maintain a brand presence. For some products, print ads make sense. For others, they aren’t very effective. Similarly, some products have audiences that connect really well with influencers, so getting your product into those influencers’ hands and onto their platforms is key to reaching your ideal audience. If you go the influencer route, make sure you take the time to find influencers who have the same values as your brand and your target audience. Otherwise, you can end up with an ineffective campaign at best, and an embarrassing nightmare at worst.

Then there’s the way the venues selling your product fit into its branding. Does limiting availability to your website give it the exclusivity it deserves, or should the product be available on every big box store shelf across the country? There’s a lot of room to fit in between these extremes, like making it available only through select retailers, either online or in brick and mortar shops.

geometric wine label and mockup of a bottle with the label

When a product’s only available from its creator, it feels more exclusive than products that can be found in stores.

Maintain your product’s brand

Product branding doesn’t end when your product hits the market. It continues through your interactions with buyers, any new products you release and business pivots you decide to take.

A few examples of actions you can take after your product launches to build and maintain your brand include:

  • Supporting specific causes and charities
  • Running promotions, giveaways and contests
  • Collaborating with other brands to create new products

Just like you carefully vetted the social media platforms on which you maintain a presence and which influencers you work with, think carefully about the promotions that are most on-brand for you. For a pet food brand, donating products or a percentage of every sale to animal rescue organizations is a good fit. For a fashion brand, it makes sense to collaborate with another brand that your audience buys regularly—maybe a beauty or footwear brand.

Product branding also extends to how you interact directly with your product’s buyers. If your product’s branded as simple and hassle-free, a no-questions-asked return policy maintains that brand persona. Similarly, a friendly beauty brand might start every email to its subscribers with “greetings, beautiful babes,” while an auto parts brand might answer commonly asked questions on its website FAQ-style with “hey, gearhead.”

Brand your product, be successful

Your product may be the best in its category, but if you don’t put the work into branding it effectively, it will get lost in the sea of options your buyers must consistently wade through. And if it isn’t branded appropriately, the right buyers can miss it—and other buyers may initially be interested, but turn away when they realize it isn’t what they need.

Even if your product is in its earliest developmental stages, now is the time to start creating your branding strategy. It’s never too early to set your product up for success!


Digital advertising 101: beginner’s guide to advertising online

It’s hard to believe that the early internet excluded commerce. Nowadays, the internet is the backbone of industry, making it easier than ever to set up shop and to turn your passions into an income. But getting started is only half the battle. To keep that shop up and running, you’ll need some kind of digital advertising.

Flat design illustration of a character thinking about digital advertising
Online advertising is a broad field that gives businesses many options for earning revenue.

The good news is that, with no printing costs, digital ads tend to run cheaper than print ads. They are also more immediate: instead of persuading a consumer to travel to a brick-and-mortar store, digital ads can take them directly to a web page to make the purchase then and there.

Despite these conveniences, digital advertising is no quick win for businesses. Every brand is vying for attention on the internet, competing with not only other ads, but also entertainment content as well. There are also an overwhelming number of channels for distributing your ad (each with particular audiences) and many forms your ad can take.

All of this can make online advertising daunting for newcomers. That’s why we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to digital advertising, outlining the basics of success in this arena. We’ll cover what digital advertising is, the different types of ads, and the 4 steps in the digital advertising process, with hands-on advice throughout.

What is digital advertising?

Digital advertising is the distribution of promotional content through online channels. In simpler terms, it’s advertising for the internet.

Though often included as part of a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy, online advertising is its own separate practice. It generally involves purchasing advertising space for campaigns, whereas marketing often prioritizes organic growth through existing channels like email newsletters, blog content, social media campaigns, search engine marketing, and others—although you can weave digital ads into these as well.

Digital advertising is a broad category with new types of “ads” cropping up everyday. They appear in any number of forms (banner ads, digital flyers, videos or animations) and on any number of channels (from social media to specific websites to search engine results).

As much ground as there is to cover, this article will provide a general overview for the basics of digital advertising and how it functions as a whole.

Online advertising vs. traditional advertising

Traditional advertising involves offline means of paid promotional campaigns, including magazine ads, billboard ads, posters, TV spots and direct mail, among others.

Although the practice is as old as civilization, advertising as an industry emerged for the first time around the mid-nineteenth century. The standard format was born through the combination of slogans with imagery, and newspapers solidified the practice by selling advertising space to lower their costs. Since then, traditional advertising has laid the foundations of sponsorship revenue, buyer psychology and the agency system.

Digital advertising, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the practice. While it shares many of the core tenets of print advertising and might even look similar, the landscape of the internet is fundamentally different. Digital ads can be interactive, for starters, and most include clickable buttons as CTAs (or calls to action) that direct users to landing pages where they can learn more about a product or even complete a purchase.

Digital ads can also target more specific segments of a brand’s audience, especially when tailored towards user shopping/browsing behavior. Moreover, they offer much more robust and immediate analytics, such as views and bounce rate. Though most businesses use a combination of traditional and online advertising, a strong digital advertising strategy is essential these days for success.

Inform, persuade, remind: the goals of digital advertising

The goals of your online advertising strategy will vary from campaign to campaign, and are likely a component of your business’s overall yearly or quarterly goals. All the same, traditional advertising practice outlines a combination of three general objectives: inform, persuade and remind.

Instagram profile and ad content design
This Instagram series of ads is more focused on sustaining brand awareness through consistent brand imagery, colors, shapes and messages.
  • Inform: establish brand or product awareness
  • Persuade: increase revenue through customer conversion
  • Remind: keep a brand in the forefront of a consumer’s mind

While ads do cost money, direct sales are not always the primary goal of an ad. There are many routes to increasing revenue, some of which are expressly indirect. For example, an ad could persuade the viewer to click a CTA button and purchase, or it could inform them of a product so they remember the brand  when they purchase in the future. On top of that, not all conversions are worth the same amount—some converted customers may become repeat buyers whereas others may only buy once.

Ultimately, what all this means is that a brand might not reap the full benefits of a digital ad until much later, which can make it difficult to measure how successfully an ad campaign met its goals. Metrics like sales conversion can help you measure persuasion, but other metrics like views, impressions or click-through rate can give you insight into whether or not your ad is resonating—which is to say, are people paying attention to your brand and will they remember it?

The types of online advertising

Although there are many different types (and subtypes) of online ads, we can divide them into two main categories.

Display ads

Display ads are the most recognizable type of digital ad: they typically consist of imagery, ad copy and a CTA in some configuration. They bear the closest resemblance to traditional advertising—the digital evolution of billboard ads or flyers. The most common types of display ads are:

  • Banner ads: Square or rectangular image-based ads displayed above or to the side of web content
  • Popup ads: Ads that interrupt browsing by overlaying the image onto the screen and require the viewer to manually close them
  • Interstitial ads: Ads that show up during a loading screen and require the viewer to wait a few seconds before clicking out of them
  • Rich media ads: Ads with interactive elements (besides CTA buttons) such as text fields, swipe/scroll functionality, multiple choice or 360° rotatable images
  • Video ads: Standard video commercials, as on television—only digital video platforms allow viewers to skip some ads after a few seconds

Display ads have become a staple of web browsing, although their blunt style of advertising tends to make users react negatively to them, if not actively avoid them. But when they are persuasive, well-executed and put in front of the right people, they often generate more immediate sales.

Native ads

Native ads are advertisements that are designed to be integrated seamlessly into a digital feed. They are meant to look like they belong, hence the term native. These ads pay attention to their target audience and seek to mimic the kind of content that the viewer consumes or is looking for. Because of this, the way native ads can look varies depending on the audience and the platform. The following are the most common types of native ads:

  • Social media ads: Businesses pay for their social media posts to rank higher in the platform’s algorithm and appear in the feeds of non-followers who have similar shopping or browsing habits.
  • Paid search ads: Businesses pay to have their web pages rank at the top of a general search engine results page for selected keywords or phrases.
  • Promoted listings: Businesses pay to have their products listed at the top of a search results page on a shopping website or app.
  • Recommended listings: Businesses pay to have their products or content featured in related/recommended sections on shopping or content sites (“Sponsored products related to this item” on Amazon).
  • Influencer partnerships: Businesses partner with social media stars with high follower counts in their target demographic and create branded content for that influencer’s feed.
  • Sponsored content: Businesses sponsor podcasts, video channels or specific pieces of content. The ad might involve the content creator reading long ad copy or simply letting the audience know that the content is “presented by” said brand.
  • Product placement: Businesses pay to have their products featured without direct advertisement in videos or video games.

Native ads can go over well with audiences because they are less disruptive than display ads (though by law they are still labelled as ads or sponsored content). But that subtlety can also result in less immediate conversion.

Digital advertising in 4 steps

Now that we know what digital advertising is, how it works and the different options available, let’s dive into the digital advertising process from start to finish.

1. Strategy

For your online ads to succeed, you must begin with a campaign concept backed by research. Start by articulating the problem you are trying to solve, and then connect this to the audience you are trying to reach.

Flat illustration of scientists working together on a complex project
Strategy and planning are key to a successful digital advertising campaign. Illustration by Natalia Maca.

For example, is a landing page not receiving enough traffic? Tools like Google Analytics uncover demographic information about who is visiting these pages, which give you a target for growth. Have your past adverts gone unnoticed? Keyword research and search tools like Google Trends show you which topics people are interested in and the questions they have—questions your campaign can answer. Are you having a hard time standing out from the pack? Analyzing your competitor’s current advertising strategy gives you an idea of what works for them, and customer reviews of their products tells you what aspects of their service are lacking.

As far as the actual concept of the ad, take your research and add imagination. Your digital ad should tell a story: most viewers distrust ads and consciously avoid them when possible, so ads that feel more like entertainment or tell genuine stories  perform better. Usually this involves identifying your customers’ pain points and demonstrating how your business solves them.

With your campaign strategy ready, the next step is to set up a formal brief to document your plan and everything you need to implement it. You want to account for the following:

  • Campaign title and description
  • Goals and success metrics
  • Target audience
  • Distribution channels
  • Content materials
  • Budget

Whether or not a brief is required by higher-ups before approving a campaign, it is always good practice to draft one so that all parties involved are on the same page.

2. Budgeting

Next, you take all of your grand ideas from the strategy phase and make decisions about how to make them real. Budgeting and allocating funds is no exact science. It depends on your own revenue goals and the marketplaces you are vying for. Pay particular attention to these three main concerns:

  • People. The medium determines who needs to be involved in the campaign. If it is a video ad, you may need to budget for a video production team. If it is a design-based ad, you will need to budget for a copywriter, graphic designer and a developer. In addition to any contractors or freelancers, make a list of in-house talent needed.
  • Distribution. Where your ads are distributed. Keep in mind that each platform has different pricing models. Social media advertising operates on an auction-like bidding system for advertising space. Some ad channels, typically paid search, use a pay-per-click (PPC) model that charges you based on the number of click-throughs. The length of time that each ad is displayed also increases your ad spend. Review the pricing for each of your distribution options to account for this ahead of time.
  • Schedule. Scheduling describes the scope of your campaign, both in planning and execution. Account for timetables and salaries of people involved in the creation of the ad, as well as the timeline for how long the ad stays live on your selected platforms.

Keep all your budgeting notes handy until the campaign finishes: they can play a role in reviewing your campaign’s performance afterwards. Success depends on how your ad spend compares to your return on investment (ROI), which is to say, whether you received more for your ad than you put in.

3. Production

An illustration with abstract characters doing a high-five over an internet browser
Communication and teamwork are key to a successful ad campaign.

With your strategy, budget and schedule in place, you should have a sturdy framework to guide you through production. Earlier you made an overall campaign document, but now you need additional, more specific briefs for each aspect of your ad campaign, delivered to the responsible parties.

For example, a copywriter needs a brief that outlines word count, targeted keywords, messaging goals, etc. Meanwhile, a designer needs a creative brief specifying the size of the canvas, advertising color stipulations, target audience, design references and so on.

There are lot of options for hiring contractors, but when it comes to finding graphic designers a creative platform like Upwork is great for finding talent quickly and easily. The platform gives you access to a global pool of professional designers and creatives, so you can find the right fit for your needs and budget more easily. Not to mention the advantages of having a secure project space for flexible invoicing, communication and secure payments.

Once you’ve connected with the talent and delegated the appropriate assignments, work with creatives to keep projects on schedule. Offer regular feedback to ensure that the campaign is coming together the way you imagined. We recommend testing the advertisement on a sample of viewers so that you have time to incorporate their feedback before it’s too late. If necessary, be sure to consult and adjust your schedule regularly as issues arise.

4. Distribution

Now that you’ve done everything you can possibly do to prepare for and produce your ad, it’s finally time to unleash it into the digital sphere. Each channel has a different process for distributing the ad, but it should be as simple as following the platform’s instructions and uploading your content.

Facebook carousel ad design
Try out different versions of a digital ad to find the best fit.

As we mentioned, it is good to test your ad before you distribute it, but even this does not guarantee that viewers respond the way you expect. When your ad goes live and presented to the whole of the internet, new problems may arise. The great thing about digital advertising, though, is that you can check results quickly and implement changes mid-campaign.

Most platforms have their own analytic tools with standard metrics like the number of impressions, clicks and percentage viewed (for videos). UTM codes can also show you which portion of your website traffic correlates to different ads. With A/B tests, you can compare two different versions of your ad on two segments of your market to reveal which performs best. Because digital ads are always live, you can adjust any of the content whenever you need to.

Dial up your online advertising

Although digital advertising is meant to complement your general organic marketing efforts, it alone can boost sales, promote brand awareness and connect with your audience in a much faster way. That’s assuming you have solid advertising content to back it up.

While the numerous approaches to digital advertising might seem daunting, we hope this beginner’s guide has given you a solid foundation to start on. And if you’re ready to take your digital advertising to the next level, a professional designer is essential to make your ads come alive online.


How to create a strong brand personality (and why it’s important)

How people perceive your brand personality is subjective—but extremely important. Dairy Queen seems nice, don’t they? We wouldn’t mind having them over for dinner. We could probably sit them at the same end of the table as those other beloved brands Dove Soap and Cheerios. They’re not like that boorish Uber—we wouldn’t want to associate with uncouth brand personality types like that.

As consumers, we often have very strong and very personal gut reactions to brands—the same way we do to certain people. We see ads, social media posts and news articles and think, “I have a good feeling about them,” or “there’s something about them that I just don’t like.”

brand personality illustration

These emotional connections have a direct impact on sales and business. According to Harvard Business School, 95% of purchasing decisions are based on feelings instead of logic. People tend to choose the brands that appeal to their subconscious, or “gut,” so brands that present themselves in a human and personal way do better than brands that rely on statistics or rationality. In other words, having a great product or service isn’t enough, you need a great brand personality to match.

But what does that mean? What is brand personality and how can it improve business? In this guide, we’ll run through the basics of shaping your brand personality, so you know how to put your best foot forward and raise an army of loyal customers. Think of it like charm school for your business optics.

What is brand personality?

Brand personality is a set of characteristics attributed to a brand in the eyes of a customer. A brand’s personality is what shapes the public perception of a brand based on how it acts, what is says and what it looks like.

So, when we say  “brand personality,” we’re talking about the company’s reputation or demeanor (or the impression that psychotherapists call “felt sense”). Basically, how does the brand come across to both new and old customers?

Just like Dairy Queen may seem nice and Uber may seem creepy (note: these impressions will be greatly influenced by the person doing the assessing) your brand personality can either attract or repel consumers. But when you take a proactive effort, you can use your brand personality to appeal to a target customer group or even break into a new market. The trick is to match the personality with that particular group’s preferences.

But personality alone isn’t enough, just ask everyone not picked for Prom King or Queen. Your brand personality needs to be represented in all your branding endeavors, from your logo to your website to the tone of voice of your customer service reps. If you want your brand to come across as “friendly” or “serious,” you’ll have to adjust your branded materials accordingly.

What makes a brand personality successful

While the approaches, strategies and even the personalities themselves can wildly vary from company to company, the actual goals of brand personality remain consistent for everyone. Looking at branding as a whole, you want your brand personality to satisfy these five areas:

  • Authenticity—Your brand personality should always reflect your business goals and company culture. A law firm of old stiff lawyers could not pull off a young and rebellious brand personality. Especially younger customers are starting to catch on when a company is sincere and when it’s cashing in on a trend.
  • Memorability—Especially important for new brands, you need to stand out to be remembered. A funny visual, play on words, or extraordinary gesture can turn an unknown startup into a household name.
  • Value—The “substance” of your business: what value do you provide for customers that they can’t get elsewhere? A product type, quality, price or even way to identify themselves? Your brand personality should complement your business model.
  • Trustability—Every pizza place in New York claims to be the best, but only one of them can be telling the truth (and it’s Two Boots—I dare you to change my mind). Just like a real person, if your brand lies about who it is people will stop listening.
  • Authority—Customers expect the brands they do business with to be experts in their field. A brand personality that  confidently and helpfully owns who they are will attract more business.

Trustworthy brand design helps to highlight an authentic brand personality.

In the next section, we discuss in detail how you can convey these characteristics in your brand personality. But first, let’s quickly clear up the “brand personality vs. brand identity” confusion.

Brand personality vs. brand identity

By the way the terms “brand personality” and “brand identity” are thrown around, it’s easy to mistake one for the other. But when you get into the nitty-gritty of branding, you realize they’re two different concepts, and understanding the difference can help you make the most out of each.

Your brand personality is the human characteristics of your brand—a happy brand, an energetic brand, a no-nonsense brand, an utterly clueless brand. Your brand identity, on the other hand, is the manifestation of your brand personality, like your logo, your color scheme or the tone of voice you use in your blog. If you understand programming, you can think of brand personality as the back end, the behind-the-scenes stuff, and brand identity as the front end, what the user sees.

Knowing how your brand personality will be presented helps when initially determining the traits and “vibes” you want to associate with. To better understand the branding process from start to finish, consider the four main components of a brand identity:

  • Color scheme—According to color theory, each color elicits a specific emotional response from viewers, which is why brands within the same industries tend towards the same colors.
  • Shapes—Like colors, the shapes you use in branded images like logos can also elicit emotions. For example, circles and curves are more playful and welcoming, but rigid rectangular shapes denote more serious brands.
  • Typography—How your text looks is almost as important as what it says. The fonts, styles and sizes of your typography can communicate independently of the words they represent.
  • Brand voice—It’s not always about how you look; customers draw conclusions about your brand personality based on how you speak in your social media, websites, blogs, ad, press releases, etc.

But we don’t mean to get ahead of ourselves, before you start picking out colors and plotting your website, you first need to pin down your brand personality as precisely as possible. That’s not always easy, so next we give you three pieces of advice from the experts.

How to develop the best brand personality for you

As we said above, while the goals of brand personality may be the same for everyone, the approaches should be molded by your unique business. In other words, the destination is the same, but how you get there depends on you.

Read the 3 tips below to help you create the best brand personality design for you.

brand personality design for Canine Habits
A lot of branding uses dogs, but for the pet industry it’s almost exclusively happy dogs, rather than the angry or scary dogs you might see in other industries. That’s because pet owners, the target audience, respond better to happy dogs thanks to a personal connection.

1. Cater to your target customers

Chanel’s sophisticated and exclusive brand personality has served it well for almost a century because it fits perfectly with the high-fashion sense of their target customers, but if you tried that brand personality with a bargain brand like Dollar Tree, it would be a huge disaster.

The top priority in your brand personality is meeting your target customer’s preferences, even more important than your own preferences. Ideally you already have a firm grasp on who your customers are and what they want, but regardless gathering quantitative customer data can reveal insights you never would have guessed on your own.

2. Make a list of adjectives to describe your ideal brand personality

This is a quick exercise designed for first-timers in branding to help get the creative juices flowing. If you’re having trouble deciding on your traits, make a list of adjectives describing your perfect brand personality. Listing words like “youthful,” “energetic” and “passionate,” can help you hone in on the greater personality, and words like “inexpensive,” “convenient” and “user-friendly” can help you solidify your value and carve out a place in your market.

Just remember to keep your target customers in mind, specifically their preferences and expectations. The words on this list should appeal to them more than you.

3. If your brand were a person…

This is a bit on the nose, but it helps to visualize your brand as a living, breathing human to create a brand persona. If you can’t decide what direction to take your brand personality, try to imagine that your ideal brand is a real person and you’re meeting them at a party for the first time. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How does your brand greet you? Do they give you an enthusiastic, “Hi, how are you?” or a nonchalant “ ‘sup”? Do they shake your hand formally or go straight in for a hug?
  • How does your brand act? Does your brand get straight to the point? Do they like to crack jokes? This can help you understand your brand voice.
  • What does your brand talk about? What topics interest your brand? Do they stick to socially-acceptable conversations or do they push limits? Do they spend their time teaching or listening?
  • What does your brand wear? Are they dressed for appearances or comfort? How many accessories do they have? What colors do they have?

Of course these questions don’t answer everything you’ll need for your brand personality, but once you have a solid idea of who your brand is, the rest of the details follow. Use them as a starting point and continue to build on them until you have outlined a complete, comprehensive brand personality for your business.

No brand is an island

How people perceive your brand is subjective. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave it to chance. By actively understanding and shaping your brand’s personality your can take your brand reputation into your own hands.

Knowing the brand personality that works best for your brand is one thing, but translating that personality into your logo, website and merchandise is another. Once you know what you’re trying to achieve you can bring your brand personality to life in all aspects of your branding.