Uncover Your Brand Personality in 10 Minutes or Less

make your brand personality shine throughNOTE: This post includes a free worksheet you can use to do the exercise I describe below. Enjoy, and let me know what you discover! – Pamela

Every brand has a personality, and if you’re in charge of your own brand, it’s crucial to figure out what that personality is, and how to communicate it consistently.

What is a Brand, Really?

You probably expect me to talk about your logo, don’t you? A logo can be part of a brand, but it’s not the whole story — not by a long shot. Your brand is the experience customers have when doing business with your company. It includes:

  • The benefits you commit to delivering. These are things like more time or money, recognition, acceptance, security or pleasure. Does your product or service deliver any of these benefits?
  • The promises you make and keep. These include the features your product or service offers, and how you deliver them. Do you meet the deadline or delivery date? Do you include extras, or go above and beyond the ordinary? Do you find ways to add value?
  • How you follow up after you’ve delivered. This covers aspects of your business like how you keep in touch, how you deal with problems that arise and how you nurture your business relationships over time.

Your “voice” forms your brand, too. Your brand voice is the verbal part of your brand presentation: the words you use, the tone your copywriting takes, the way you answer the phone and the style of your letters.

Finally, your visual presentation wraps it up in a cohesive package. At least, it should. Your visual presentation should be a reflection of everything we covered above: the benefits you offer, the promises you make and keep, and the words you use to present your products or services.

Your visual presentation includes things like:

  • Your colors
  • Your typefaces
  • Your logo
  • Your overall graphic style

A Quick Exercise to Uncover your Brand Personality

Here’s how to discover your company’s brand personality so you can use this style in all the marketing efforts you undertake in the future.

1. Take a piece of paper and draw six horizontal lines. To the left of each line, write:

  • Personable and friendly
  • Spontaneous and high energy
  • Modern or high tech
  • Cutting edge
  • Fun
  • Accessible to all

2. To the right of each line, write:

  • Corporate and professional
  • Careful thinking and planning
  • Classic and traditional
  • Established
  • Serious
  • Upscale

brand building with help from a Big Brand System worksheet3. Better yet, download the Brand Personality Worksheet I made for you. Print it, and sit down with your favorite beverage. Spend 10 minutes thinking about where your company is when it comes to these descriptors.

4. Place dots closest to wherever your company falls along the spectrum. Try to not over think this, and don’t be afraid to envision where you’d like your company to be, even if it’s not there now. Draw your dots, and read on.

Where Does Your Company Live on the Spectrum?

Are most of your dots toward the left?

Your company is contemporary, fast-moving and energetic. You like to make ideas happen quickly, and you don’t mind taking risks. Your communication style is friendly and approachable.

Are most of your dots toward the right?

Your company is traditional, relies on solid planning and established ways of getting things done. You might be trying to appeal to upscale clientele, and your communication style is corporate and professional.

What Does It Mean?

Knowledge is power: defining these brand personality traits means you can apply them consistently in your verbal and visual communication.

A clear vision of your brand personality will guide your choice of colors, typography, word and actions.

A company that is traditional and established will use classic typefaces that have been around for centuries. Color palettes lean toward conservative, rich hues. The communication style is formal and corporate. This company’s brand image stands the test of time. Because it relies on elements that have been in use for decades, the style will still look fresh five years from now.

A company that is contemporary and high energy will have colors, typography and a communication style that reflect this. The color palette might be vivid and trendy. The typefaces used have been released in the last ten years. The graphic style is open, airy and asymmetrical. The copywriting voice is friendly and approachable. This company will likely have to re-make their image more often than the traditional one to stay ahead of visual trends.

What If Your Company is In Between?

If your dots are mostly in the middle, I urge you to take a stand about how you’d like your brand personality to be perceived. When it comes to marketing your business, the middle is the worst place to be. You’re guaranteeing that your brand will be entirely forgettable, because it’s not one thing or the other.

The middle is Blandsville. Avoid it all all costs.

If your dots are all over the place, with some on one side, and some on the other, you have a quirky brand that doesn’t fit easily into a box. That’s good! Feel free to mix and match traits from the lists above. You might use traditional typography and colors, but a very friendly and approachable copywriting style, for example.

Uncover It and Let It Shine

Every brand has a personality. One personality isn’t “better” than the other. Once you identify your company’s brand personality you can use that knowledge in all the marketing work you do.

Your communications will look and sound like they’re coming from the same source over time, and your decisions about how to express your brand verbally and visually will be right on target.

This exercise only works if you actually take ten minutes to do it. Carve out the time today to think it through, and see for yourself how much easier it is to market your business.

Develop a gorgeous brand that builds your business

Quick-Start Guide to Branding Your Business
Build a brand you’re proud of with the step-by-step technique in the Quick-Start Guide to Branding Your Business. Identify who you’re trying to reach, fine-tune your message, and translate it all into a brand you can be proud of.

Get the Quick Start Guide to Branding Your Business

wd-15-3D-transPamela Wilson here. If you enjoyed this article, why not get the free Weekend Digest newsletter? Every other Saturday, you’ll receive one email that’s chock-full of information about the intersection of business, branding, design, and marketing. Join us.


  1. says

    Pamela, you really outdid yourself this time. I think this is your best post ever, really!

    This worksheet is so cool!

    It might be fun to give this spectrum assignment to a customer to see how they perceive our brands too. Wonder if it would match?

    I just love how you continue to challenge me. (It’s hard not to put exclamation points all over my comments.) Thank you for that! (oops- there’s another one)

    • says

      I’m blushing over here. Thanks so much, Marlene!

      It was challenging to get this all in writing and put it into a visual format that would be easy to use. This is usually a very internal process for me, so it was cool to make it all external and share it so others can benefit. I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. says

    Thanks, this was very helpful. I only had one dot in the middle, mostly because I felt neither really applied to me (cutting edge vs. established). The others were some one one side, some on the other — no big surprise there, but this was a good tool to think it through, and I loved your suggestions on how to make these ideas visual. Thanks!

    • says

      Glad it was helpful, Beelissa. I suspected some people would have dots in the middle: that seems normal. But if you have a whole row of them, you’ve got some thinking to do!

  3. says

    You are so right…Avoid Blandsville. There’s a hundred different ways to take a stand and yet still be incredibly, totally YOU.
    Great post.

  4. says

    Hi Pamela,
    I’ve been reading your blog for some time and love your advice on design. This form on branding makes tons of sense. I’ve saved it in case I need to refer to it later. Right now I’m happy to solidify who the heck I am. I’ve made an effort to make ebaby decor sound pretty much the same, but I feel more secure seeing it all defined …and understanding the dangers of the middle! Thanks.

    Also, I’ve enjoyed your guest posts on Copyblogger. They cover a little wider area than your blog does, it seems. I was a little surprised you had such good stuff to impart aside from design.

    • says

      Hi Dorothy!

      I’m glad this helped: thanks for the feedback.

      I’m happy you found my posts on Copyblogger, too! I try to keep this blog consistently about marketing and design topics (gotta stay ‘on brand’ ;-)) and I enjoy branching out a bit and talking about related topics when I write for Copyblogger. Plus, I can use ‘bad’ words in the headlines and get away with it there!

  5. Mark Scott says

    Hi Pamela. Great article. I especially like that you mentioned the importance of brand voice.

    Speaking of visual presentation, I like the changes you’ve made!

    • says

      Well, thanks for noticing, Mark! I switched over to the Genesis Prose theme this weekend. Still tweaking some details, but it’s about 95% there.

  6. says

    Pamela (by the way, love your name!) this was a terrific way to think differently about the image we convey, and want to convey. I’m planning to update my website, and had considered a more colorful, contemporary style, but I was hesitant because I didn’t want that to dissuade potential customers who might inherently be more traditional. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Pamela! It’s a good idea to think about your customers and what will appeal to them before you do a redesign. Have you seen this post?? It will give you some ideas about clarifying your market before you move forward.

      Thanks for visiting!

  7. says

    Hey Pamela, I just found this fantastic pdf and tried it out and it was illuminating to think about brand in this way. I resisted the categories at first because I didn’t feel like they fit very easily but I discovered the wisdom of looking at my brand through these “lenses” because they help translate my energy into a look and feel.

    I have one of those very eclectic brands – very personable, but the “quiet” energy of my work translates into “careful and classic” here, even though my concepts can be quite cutting edge. And the “depth” translates as slightly more “serious” than I thought.

    I also got some good insights about the fact that the service I have and clientele I’m aiming for is more “upscale” than I would have thought! This is SO valuable to know. Thank you for this!

    • says

      I’m glad it was helpful, Susan.

      It’s funny how we resist defining these things, but when we step back and look at these traits at arm’s length, we find good information that can serve as a guide to our marketing.

      Thanks for letting me know!

  8. says

    Thanks, Pamela, for the great info and easy read here. The downloadable worksheet definitely appealed to my sense of “just do it now.” Well done!

    From your article above: ” You might use traditional typography and colors, but a very friendly and approachable copywriting style, for example.”

    This hit the nail right on the head for me and I’m glad you expounded on it; I really like the look of established/traditional but have found great, positive responses from my clients when they read (and later hear) my approachable and easy-going voice.

    By the way, this is so tweetable as quality content. I’m off to do that now.

    • says

      I’m glad it made sense, Scott. This isn’t about creating a box to put your brand in, but rather finding a unique voice.

      And thanks for sharing it on Twitter! :-)

  9. says

    Great Exercise! Firstly, it confirmed what I thought of my brand – quirky. Most dots where on the left, with one, for the visual design, firmly on the right by Classic, Traditional. My tone is also a little serious on the surface, but is due to my dry, deadpan sense of humour. It was nice to have confirmation that it is OK to have a quirky brand. and go for it.

    This made a lightbulb come on in my head. I have been struggling with the decision about what market to pursue. It was very helpful in crystalizing some thoughts and gave me, potentially, the answer to that question. Most of my content appeals to the very thrifty reader – not the most profitable market! With one little shift of emphasis, without going too far off my chosen topic of self-reliance, I can go after a far more profitable crowd – the Steampunks. Totally my exentric, traditional, bookish style with a large element of creativity.

    So, I had a nice, unexpected bonus result. Thanks, Pamela.

    Sorry for thinking out loud.

    • says

      Thinking out loud is always welcome around here, Judy. :-)

      I’m glad the exercise gave you a lightbulb moment! Your plan sounds great, too: not only true to what you want to talk about, but it makes good business sense, too. Keep me posted … I’d love to hear how it goes!