I caught up with an old colleague last week from my former life as a qualitative researcher, where interviewing consumers and running focus groups was part of my day-to-day. 

During our conversation, I was reminded of some of the methods we would use to draw out of consumers how they perceive a brand. 

One of these methods is brand personification; a projective technique that asks people to think about a brand as if they were a person.

Just as a person has characteristics that define them, so does a brand. But people usually find it easier to describe a person - or even objects like cars, animals, etc - rather than more abstract concepts like brands. 

The exercise means asking questions like, “If (X brand) was a person, how would you describe them?”, “What type of person would they be?”, “What kind of friend would they be?”, “How old are they?”, “How do they dress?”, "What do they do for fun?" etc. 

What this reveals - by proxy - is a list of attributes. 

For example, if a brand is described as a 50-something who always wears a suit and is kind and a good listener, you may deduce that they are mature, professional, approachable, and a safe pair of hands. Or if a brand is described as a boldly dressed 20-something who’s into extreme sports, you could say they are bold, youth-oriented, adventurous and not afraid to take risks. 

This got me thinking about how to apply brand personification to my current world; to helping companies become successful media brands

First off, we can apply it to the brand strategy work we deliver for our clients. Here at Equinet, when we first start working with a new company we’ll set up a brand development workshop to flesh out the four elements that make up their brand architecture: core proposition, reasons to believe, brand values, and brand personality.

See in order to connect with their ideal customers, brands need to figure out why they do what they do - their core proposition. But they also need to think about their brand values and personality - the things that represent who they are.

It can be hard even for the people who work there to describe the values or personality traits that make up the essence of a company. 

But thinking of the brand as a person can help people to really understand their brand personality. This personality can then be leveraged in the content they create, from video to blogs to podcasts, so that they can better connect with their target audience.

Defining and promoting your brand needs a personal approach. But too often, companies will take an impersonal approach, defining themselves by their brand colours and their target audience. 

But your customers care about who you are. And your brand is your overall reputation. Who do you want to be? A trusted and knowledgeable advisor? A down-to-earth friend? Or a fun, risk-taking innovator?

I came across this article that follows a similar sentiment.

The brand personification exercise is also a little bit like the process for developing buyer personas too. We ask all these same questions, like how old they are, what their hobbies are, where they spend their time, and what drives them.

But we can take this a step further to help us connect with our ideal customers. It sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember that your buyer personas are, at the end of the day, people. So what kind of events would they go to, what podcasts would they listen to, and what kind of videos would they watch? 

The answers to these questions can inform the kind of content you should be creating on your journey to becoming a media brand.