From Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative
What’s your brand’s personality? It’s an easy-enough question to answer – just take a look at your agency’s creative brief or positioning statement, where it might state, “Brand Personality: caring, empathetic, comforting.” Or maybe it’s “confident, assertive, capable.” Or, perhaps it’s “experienced, trusted, wise.” Whatever it is, it’s in writing and official… and it sounds just about right based on your product’s attributes. “OK, now let’s move on to the more important elements of the brief, like the Key Thought,” you might suggest.
Hold on. If you really want to ensure that your brand has a personality, a character that will truly engage your target, let’s look a little closer. You always want your brand to communicate with your consumer in as compelling a way as possible, in a way that might actually suggest your brand understands what it is to be human, and is something – no, someone – who your consumer would like to get to know better, someone who has a little simpatico with your consumer.
So how do you ensure that? First, recognize how important an element your brand’s personality is. If you break up a communication into “what is being said” (the content) and “how it’s being said” (the attitude), you could say the personality of your brand makes up 50% of its expression. Your brand’s personality is the driver behind how your brand speaks, so make sure you’re putting it to work appropriately to get the right message across. As an example, the words “That’s great” can mean two completely different thoughts depending on how they’re uttered – with enthusiasm or sarcasm. In the same way, it’s important to make sure your brand communications are fully leveraging the “how it’s being said” component and that they’re doing it in a way that reinforces your brand’s attitude or personality appropriately.
Second, think about giving your brand some real personality. Human experience makes for some very interesting characters and moods in general. People are three dimensional, not cardboard cut-outs. As such, your brand shouldn’t be flat. Give it some depth of character. Don’t let it be just a throwaway… a shallow personification of your product’s attributes. Just because your product works the fastest doesn’t mean your brand’s personality should be expeditious or to-the-point. Your brand is bigger than your product. Know your competitive space and your target mindset and use that knowledge to create a brand personality that will stand out and appeal to an emotional need in your audience. By rendering a deeper personality with your creative you’ll be sure to draw your audience in deeper as well.
Take the Cheetos “Orange Underground” campaign that features Chester the cheetah. It gives the Cheetos brand real personality. It might not be the kind of personality you admire, but it definitely brings a human dimension to Cheetos beyond its functional attribute, i.e. satisfying flavor. This campaign was developed because consumer research showed that it’s not just kids who eat Cheetos. In fact, 60 percent of all Cheetos consumption is by adults. Robert Riccardi, managing partner at Goodby Silverstein (the ad agency behind the new campaign), says that Chester’s mischievous new personality stems from the idea that “powering down” Cheetos as an adult “feels like a nonconformist moment. You’re supposed to be eating arugula dip, but you have a nonconforming desire.”
So, through Chester’s somewhat mysteriously dark personality, the Cheetos brand is brought to a deeply human place. Chester may only exist in our subconscious, but he does represent an inner urge that many of us express outwardly from time to time: the desire to shatter adult norms. And with that the Cheetos brand bonds with its audience at a deeper level. Here’s one of the spots.
In pharmaceutical advertising, as well, there are great examples of how bringing personality into communications can deepen the impact of a brand’s message. One that most everyone is familiar with is the “Your dreams miss you” campaign for Rozerem.
In this campaign, the Rozerem brand connects at a deeper level with its audience as it uses the quirky visual and verbal language of dreams to remind us how important they are. Sleep specialists will tell you it’s critical for humans to dream… they serve as a processor that helps us make sense of our everyday reality. But rather than asserting this through a less-engaging approach that might establish sleep’s medical importance (and therefore Rozerem’s value), this entertaining campaign lets the viewer enter a dream, as if it were a reunion of sorts, for just a few moments. It says Rozerem has a sense of humor and imagination and sentimentality that all combines to create a deeper understanding of, and care for, the viewer.
The last thing any of us wants to do is abandon our friends, and by establishing an affection between ourselves and the characters we dream through the technique of developed personalities, we welcome the Rozerem brand into our hearts and minds. Take a look.
Remember, truly persuasive, brand-building advertising compels its audience to bond with your brand at a human level. And not until your brand “feels” human will it be able to get that human commitment from your audience. To do that, don’t overlook the power of personality for your brand.