Based on a group of 10-15 individuals, consisting mostly of Marketing and Web Development roles in the Open Space meetup, we have discussed the importance of having a brand personality in early stage startups. When a client communicates to you with something like “I think the design is lacking personality/character”, is it something that is really crucial to focus on when we are working on the first version of their product?
What is a Brand Personality and what is it for?
Answers from the group include things like:
- Brand Identity – Consists of a logo and a consistent visual identity.
- Ethos and values – Typically dependent on the founder’s personality and vision.
- Comparing a brand to a person – What is their job, their personality and attributes.
- Writing style – The tone of voice in copywriting.
According to businessdictionary.com, a brand personality is defined as the following:
“Human traits or characteristics associated with a specific brand name. Common characteristics or traits represented include uniqueness, sincerity, intellectualism, competence, excitement and sophistication. The brand personalities gives consumers something with which they can relate, effectively increasing brand awareness and popularity.”
Apple’s “Get a Mac” ad campaign, while is criticised for being “mean spirited” to their competitor – Windows, is probably one of the simplest examples of what brand personality is, depicting products with human traits and characteristics.
The purpose of a brand came from the origins of differentiating one person’s livestock from another. If a startup is be competing with another existing product, it needs to be differentiated and should not feel like direct copycats of one another.
Do early stage products really need it?
The majority of the group agreeing that it is needed, citing brands like AirBnB. However, I went on to do some research on how AirBnB has emphasised on a brand personality during their early days. Compared to their earlier versions of their product, it is only the latest brand relaunch that is fully immersed into communicating its brand personality which is focused on communities.
Other examples of early stage startups that do not focus on brand personalities, aside from AirBnB include Buffer and Dropbox, who instead focus on creating Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) to validate and understand their product and market.
An early stage product does not need to place a huge emphasis on brand personality. There are more important things to focus on in an early stage startup than spending too much effort in defining your brand personality, such as:
- Product validation
- Getting initial traction
- Delivering an overall user experience
A brand personality should be tested and evolve as the product develops and defines itself through its target audience and the type of values it delivers as a product/service.3