How to ensure coherence in your brand personality

Brand personality - How to increase brand coherence

Brand personality is concerned with how a brand ‘speaks’ to its audience. It is how a brand communicates to an audience from the tone and creative assets across all channels.

Read on to find out more about brand personality – what it is and how to increase coherence.

What is brand personality?

Brand personality is the way a brand coherently communicates to its audience from messaging and tone to creative assets across multiple channels. Brand personality is one of the 6 facets of a brand’s identity, according to Dr. Jean-Noël Kapferer.

In short, consistency and coherence ensure that a brand ‘speaks’ to a prospect or customer in the same way, no matter which touchpoint or channel you encounter it.

Kapferer Brand Identity Prism
Fig 1. Kapferer's Brand Identity Prism

Why is brand personality important?

Brand personality is important to ensure that you communicate consistently and with the same language at every touchpoint. The easiest way to think of this is to communicate with one voice through everything they see and hear from your brand.

A simple approximation is walking into a retail store and interacting with different members of staff. You would hope to have the same experience with every person and a customer-centric organisation might achieve this relatively well. Most customer experience experts will tell you that this is more difficult than it appears across many personalities and touchpoints. Ultimately, this isn’t too dissimilar to communicating as a brand so that you have a consistent language and ‘feel’.

Why brand coherence is important?

According to Kapferer in his 2003 paper on measuring brand personality, measures generally merge together multiple facets of brand identity. Unfortunately, this means that brand management suffers from a state of ‘conceptual confusion’. In the intervening 18 years, things haven’t improved much without a widespread adoption of a consistent measure.

The confluence of agencies to deliver omnichannel marketing campaigns can pull a brand away from achieving brand coherence. Additionally, changing agency rosters in the middle of the year’s marketing plan also undermines coherence.

Multiple groups of designers (internal also) delivering creative assets for different channels will struggle to achieve the same brand personality and therefore undermine brand coherence. Unless you have a highly sophisticated measurement scale in-house, the confusion could be subconsciously perceived by the customer.

Think Beyond Brand Identity Prism
Fig 2. Think Beyond's Brand Identity Prism (focus on coherence)

Why is coherence a challenge for brand personality?

So, your marketing function tends to be a mix of managers and agencies that tackle everything from advertorials to video and social. The content is buzzing and the media is ablaze with new material, creative ideas and hype. With so many media, video and creative agencies out there and impressive pitches showcasing big-budget campaigns for a major brand, how do you retain coherence?

Furthermore, there is huge scope for third-parties to demonstrate a portfolio of great design ideas from multiple clients and hope that something grabs your attention. Whatever got your attention may become the ‘template’ for success and the person or team that did it gets put on your account. So, how is this consistent with your brand personality?

Also, another consideration is your sub-brands. How do you overcome the challenge of managing an eclectic portfolio of brands whilst protecting brand identity, equity and advocacy? If there are different teams or agencies managing each brand, maybe even a group of brand managers without a ‘Head of Brand’, this is tough. Read on to find some practical tips.

5 ways to increase the coherence of your brand personality

There are 5 ways to increase the coherence of your brand personality:

1.      Leverage your in-house teams

Ultimately, nobody knows the brand strategy, brand guidelines and consistent brand management like an in-house team. Whereas a third-party can come up with amazing ideas that wow, bringing the steak and the sizzle, they don’t have the same understanding. Somewhat predictably, the average human being can subconsciously perceive this incoherence, altering their recognition, perception and association with a brand.

2.      Deploy a brand personality measurement scale

One of the oldest and most famous brand personality scales was developed by Jennifer Aaker and published in 1997. This scale posits 5 personality dimensions (competence, sincerity, excitement, sophistication and ruggedness) consisting of 42 traits. It was originally used in a piece of research on restaurants to understand the ‘personality’ of brands and each location within their estate. Unfortunately, like any survey or questionnaire, it can be susceptible to bias and category opacity.

3.      Consolidate or insource agency creative

A counter-intuitive approach might be to consolidate creative work into less agencies so that brand coherence is more likely. This should still involve an element of monitoring from in-house brand managers or designers to ensure congruence. Alternatively, the same may be achieved by bringing some creative work in-house or centralising all creative work in one office for a dispersed organisation.

4.      Brand Portfolio Coherence (BPC)

The International Journal of Research in Marketing published a research paper on a framework to manage this in 2017. The researchers proposed a common framework for features reflected in design, personality and status called BPC. This is different to brand fit, connection, positioning, trust and loyalty. The study demonstrated improved re-purchasing decisions through portfolio brands, thus providing a useful tool to retain and grow customers.

5.      Scientifically analyse your creative assets

One option to police your creative agencies without internal resource is neuroscience for branding. Neurobranding helps enhance visual recognition, positive association and the coherence of your brand(s). This ensures that a social campaign from one agency isn’t consciously or subconsciously communicating varying ‘signals’ and emotional responses to a media agency for example. Additionally, given that what your eyes see is not the same as what your brain processes, you realise that perception plays a huge part in brain response. A scientific approach helps to translate it.

5 steps to increase coherence of brand personality
Fig 3. 5 steps to increase brand coherence as part of your brand personality

What about user content?

So, that was quite a journey from media and creative agencies to measurement scales and neuroscientists! But wait, what about the users of your products and services? When you consider that nearly 4 out of 5 people said that user content had a significant impact on their decision to buy, you can’t afford to ignore UGC.

Hmm, so now we have creative content from users, agencies and in-house. Someone has to police it, control it and ensure it is compliant with brand guidelines, advertising standards and the communication strategy. Someone has to ensure brand coherence across all content and all channels for all brands in your portfolio. We can help you research, structure processes and design frameworks to create a consistent and coherent brand personality.

A source of support for your brand creative

Here at Think Beyond, we are more than just humble marketing consultants. We offer a range of content marketing and design services if you need help with producing content. Our neurobranding services help to identify ways to improve brand coherence. We also provide other brand audit and assurance services to get your brand(s) back on track.  In summary, we might surprise you so just ask to find out more.

You can call us on 01625 682110 or email us at sales@think-beyond.co.uk.

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