Brand personification is nothing new. Businesses of all sizes have used mascots, spokespeople, and animals to represent their brand identities for decades. Recent memorable ones include Flo for Progressive or Dennis Haysbert as “the Allstate guy,” but some brand personifications have truly stood the test of time, like Smokey the Bear.
Whether it’s a larger-than-life commercial character or simply a mascot you’ve seen on a product’s label for decades, personification can certainly entertain, but it’s mostly worthwhile because it helps people relate to a brand. By putting a face, personality, or theme to a brand, it may become more memorable, relatable, and—over time—trustworthy and desirable.
Brand personification may not be a fit for every company. For some brands, a quirky character may be in poor taste. And other companies, like luxury brands, may not want to have an easily identifiable character attached to them.
If you do believe brand personification would be a fit for your business, though, here’s where you should start.
Set appropriate goals: What are the specific outcomes desired by brand personification? Perhaps it is increasing the level of consumer trust, or boosting memorability. Identifying your distinct goals will help bring to light what direction you should go.
Consider how the character will represent the brand: Think through the context of how your character will be introduced to people. Will the character be present on the company website, labels, in digital ads or commercials? If in commercials, will the character act as a host or spokesperson, or be more of a character actor?
Define the character: The most important attribute of the character will likely be how it is able to build affinity between your brand and your audience. Should the character be funny, sweet, sad, empowering? Pinpoint the characteristics that make sense given the context of your brand, how the character will be used, and why they will be appealing to your target audience.
Personify! Build a bridge to your audience by launching the new character. This may be done slowly over time, or in an impactful, major way. No matter your personification type—spokesperson, cartoon, animal, etc.—give it time to work. Likability can grow with just one exposure to the audience, but multiple exposures will build deeper affinity and, ultimately, loyalty to a brand.
Brand personification doesn’t have to be quirky or cheesy to work—though it certainly can be. Ensure the character developed to personify your brand enhances the company’s overall brand, and even if it is a talking animal or the like, it can work to increase sales.