Sunday, March 1, 2015

Brand Personality and Success

Advertising statesman Emerson Foote said, "No one would ever use advertising if they could meet all their customers face to face."

His insight points to the fact that people look first to their personal information sources, rather than media sources.

Theory Basis

Not only do people look first to personal information sources, as social beings we draw upon our person perception skills to give meaning to the entire world around us. Dark skies are threatening, sunshine is friendly. The babbling brook bespeaks a happy attitude.

We call this phenomenon "anthropomorphism," the attribution of human characteristics, traits, and motives to entities and forces in the world around us.

Of course, brands, products, services, and organizations are commonly seen this way. Indeed, a brand without a personality is not very interesting.

Lessons from the Classics

King Arthur Flour is the oldest continuously operating company in the United States. Although founded in 1790, the company did not choose King Arthur as its brand name until 1890 when an owner attended a performance of the musical King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Although a seemingly implausible means of selecting a brand name, with no apparent connection to flour, the kingly imagery of the Arthur legend presumably lends to the brand a sense of leadership, integrity and good times in days of old. Today, the highly informative King Arthur Flour website begins with this logo prominently positioned so as to welcome your visit.

The logo is prominent on the package. Notice also the action oriented call out. It leads you to a side panel that welcomes you into the community of bakers. Integrated Marketing Communication and Content Management is nothing new to this centuries old company. Indeed, these practices are really now new, just the terminology used by people who are "relatively" new to the business.

Underwood Deviled Ham is actually the oldest continuously marketed trade marked food brand in the United States. When it comes to food preparation, deviling means seasonings play a major role giving the food a spicy taste. So, for this brand we see a clear connection between the devilish imagery and the sought after taste experience of the brand.

Indeed, this classic print ad from 1911 demonstrates some devilishly good copywriting. The visual is wonderfully in tune with the personality of the brand. Were the brand to begin reinvesting in advertising, this print ad gives productive direction concerning content and personality.

Turning to brand personality in contemporary advertising, MetLife stands out as one of the strongest brand personalities. In the early 1980's the company began searching for a new creative direction to replace the traditional problem-solution case studies that typify insurance company advertising. At Y&R in New York, senior copywriter George Watts proposed a campaign based on the Peanuts cartoon characters. Snoopy was to play the leading role, of course.

The customer insight is all about brand personality. No one wants to talk to an insurance agent. So, with Snoopy as the spokesperson the brand immediately became a friend. Snoopy is possibly the most highly effective door opener. But going beyond personality, the scenarios and cast of characters allow for charming narratives to explain otherwise complicated and boring insurance products and procedures.

This customer insight leads directly to my typology for evaluating and managing brand personality.

Eighmey's Brand Personality Success Grid

Human behavior comes down to the concepts of thinking, feeling, and doing. What we choose to do is supported by what we think and feel.

These elemental concepts provide the framework for a model or typology for evaluating the performance of brand personalities as they directly compete in the marketplace. Importantly, this allows us to evaluate brand personalities in their competitive frames.

Turning to the Brand Personality Success Grid, you can see how MetLife's brand personality relationship with customers is based on high levels of feeling and more extensive narrative content about the brand. In contrast, Geico's stance is to ask customers to concentrate on a simple fact about speed of transaction.

Now, all four of these brands are mounting successful advertising campaigns. The point is to recognize the basis of the continuing relationships with their customers when it comes to thinking and feeling. My typology suggests that to support long run relationships more of both is better.

What does my Brand Personality Success Grid look like for the brands in your product category?

  Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

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