When I was young I remember always being asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answers usually ranged from astronaut to rock star to everything in between.

What I learned later is that a better question would be “who do you want to be?” We as people usually have a number of different jobs in our lives, but if we could pinpoint what kinds of characteristics we want to embody that would give us a much clearer picture of our personality, and emotional attributes. 

A brand goes through all of the different stages we as humans go through – infancy, adolescence, maturity and, eventually, a farm upstate with an endless supply of dog treats and balls to chase … right? It changes, it evolves, and hopefully winds up being the brand we always dreamed it could be.

In doing brand articulation with clients, we often talk about actual vs. aspirational brand identity. When you’re developing your brand profile you tend to focus on what you are and how you can back that up. But having a clear idea – or brand role model – to pursue is an equally important task.

A Brand Personality Exercise

Running a brand personality exercise with your staff/team can be a vital way to learn how they think of the brand. One that we like is the Celebrity Analogy. It’s straightforward and offers a quick snapshot of what can be some enlightening details. 

Simply have your team run through these four steps individually.

Note that while the responses to these steps can bleed together a little, it’s a good idea to ask a similar question in different ways in order to a) make sure whoever is filling it out is actually paying attention, and b) to confirm or add more detail. 

 Step 1

Who is the celebrity (or public figure) that best aligns with our brand?

 Step 2

Outline what their personality says or exhibits.

 Step 3

Explain what their abilities represent.

 Step 4

Describe what their character suggests.

Now run that same exercise with an aspirational mindset (i.e. Who is the celebrity that you would most like to align with our brand?). Once you have your data, spend some time reviewing the answers and find the affinities between them. What are the common through-lines that connect them? What divides them? 

This exercise is a good way to take stock of where your employees’ heads are at in terms of articulating the brand. It can also shine some light on the steps you may need to take to reach your brand’s aspirational goals. 

As humans grow up, so must your brand. By taking the time up front, then taking stock along the way, you can help evolve your brand in a purposeful direction. 

And there’s no better way to brand than with purpose. 

Download the exercise

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