When it comes to branding, one of the most important aspects is creating a brand character. This is the personality that represents your company. It can be helpful to think of this as an actor who plays your company's role in all marketing materials and communications.
But how do you identify what this character should be? And once you've identified it, how do you design it?
In this article, we'll explore these questions and provide some examples of well-designed brand characters.
What is a brand character?
A brand character is the personality of your company. It's how you want people to perceive your business, and it should be reflected in everything from your marketing materials to the way you answer customer service calls.
Your brand character should be consistent across all channels and unique to your company. It's important to avoid generic characters, as these will be forgettable. A bland brand character won't help you stand out from the competition.
Think of your brand character as the actor who plays the role of your company. They should be able to embody all the values and attributes that you want people to associate with your business.
Brand Character Examples
Brand characters are not a one-size-fits-all marketing tool. You can choose cartoon characters, anthropomorphized animals or objects, or even fictional people. If you’re stumped on where to start, we’ve pulled a variety of brand characters to get your creativity flowing.
1. Flo from Progressive
Flo is a great example of how effective a fictional person can be as a brand character. She’s highly recognizable and always communicates the perks of using Progressive over other insurance companies.
Flo has more than 70,000 followers on Twitter, demonstrating the character’s reach beyond traditional commercials.
2. GEICO's Gecko
Not to be left out, fellow insurance company GEICO’s quirky gecko character also has a following of its own. Is he Australian or British? No one knows for sure, but we do know we can save on car insurance by switching to GEICO.
To play up the character’s popularity, GEICO even facilitates Q&As with him via social media, getting the public to engage with the brand in a fun way.
3. Reddit’s Snoo
Reddit’s Snoo alien character can be found throughout its website and even has its own thread. The genderless and colorless alien has come to represent the company and its target audience: everyone.
Reddit appeals to everyone and serves as a forum where users from any background can share news, their hobbies, and other types of content and host discussions on just about any topic. It’s the internet’s hub for “everyday people” (plus aliens, of course), and Snoo reflects that.
4. Twitter’s Larry the Bird
It seems fitting that a site named Twitter would choose a bird for its brand character. Larry the Bird was named after basketball great Larry Bird, as co-founder Biz Stone is a Celtics fan. While small, this little blue bird is synonymous with Twitter without having to see the brand name spelled out.
The bird logo is versatile. It’s used not only on website branding but seamlessly tucked into the corner of every individual’s tweet. It’s ubiquitous but not intrusive.
Brand Character vs. Brand Personality
It's important to understand the difference between a brand character and a brand personality. A brand character is a specific person that you create to represent your brand. A brand personality, on the other hand, is your brand's overall tone and feel.
Your brand character should embody your brand's personality in its own unique way. They should share the same values and attributes as your brand but also have their own distinct personality.
Qualities of Brand Character
When you're designing your brand character, there are certain qualities that they should possess. These qualities will be unique to your company, but some examples include:
- Friendliness. Your brand character should be someone that people would want to interact with. They should be approachable and easy to talk to.
- Trustworthiness. People should feel like they can trust your brand character. They should feel like they can rely on them for accurate information.
- Expertise. Your brand character should be an expert in their field. They should be someone that people can go to for advice and guidance.
- Enthusiasm. Your brand character should be enthusiastic about your products or services. They should be passionate and excited, and they should show that in their interactions with customers.
These are just a few examples of qualities that your brand character could possess. It's important to choose qualities that are of value to your company and that you want people to associate with your brand.
Identifying a Brand Character for Your Company
Creating a brand character can be a fun and rewarding process. It allows you to really think about what makes your brand unique and what personality you want it to have. It's also a great way to get your team involved in the branding process.
If you're not sure where to start, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself to help identify your brand character.
- What does my brand stand for?
- What is my brand's personality?
- What are my brand's core values?
- How does my brand want to be perceived by the public?
- What kind of feeling do I want my customers to have when they interact with my brand?
Answering these questions will give you a better understanding of the type of character you should be creating for your brand.
1. Choose the values of your brand character.
Once you answer these questions, you'll need to decide what values and attributes you want your character to embody. These should be based on your company's mission and brand identity. Once you've decided on these, you can start brainstorming what kind of personality would best represent your company.
2. Design your brand character.
Once you've identified your brand character, you can start thinking about how you want to bring them to life. This is where you'll need to get creative. You can use illustrations, animations, or even photographs to help represent your brand character. The important thing is that they are visually appealing and recognizable.
3. Implement your brand character.
Your brand character should be included in all of your marketing and advertising materials. They should be featured prominently on your website, social media accounts, and printed collateral.
Make sure that everyone on your team is aware of your brand character so that they can use them consistently across all channels.
Benefits of Brand Character
Building a brand character has many benefits for your company. You’ll be able to create a familiar face for potential customers to associate with your company. Other advantages of brand characters include:
- Helping build an emotional connection with your audience. If your character goes on a journey, your emotionally-invested audience goes along with them.
- Making your brand more relatable. Your audience may be able to see themselves or their challenges in your brand character.
- Helping customers remember your brand. They may remember your character’s catchphrase or design.
- Differentiating your brand from competitors. Other companies may provide a similar service, but your brand character belongs to you alone.
Including a Brand Character in Your Marketing Plan
If you're looking for a way to make your brand more memorable and relatable, consider creating a brand character.
You’ll be able to connect with your audience on an emotional level and increase customer loyalty. When done correctly, brand characters can be a valuable asset to your marketing plan.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.