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Getting that cult status: Four brand personality success stories

The personality of your brand is the key to defining your customer experience.

But what is brand personality?

It’s what people come to expect from your company: the way you respond, your tone of voice, the images you use.

When you create a consistent brand personality, consumers will start to understand your brand and feel connected to it. It will boost your sales and attract new talent too. But only if your brand personality is an integral part of your business strategy, rather than simply a marketing tactic.

Done properly, it should reflect your core brand values. It should be a natural development of your brand history and demonstrate what sets your brand apart.

What’s my brand story?

Brand storytelling is a way to stand out. To put it another way: what does your brand do differently that adds value to your customers?

Because whatever your business does, if you want to win customers you need to give them a reason to buy from you.

However, there are brand stories and there are brand stories. To achieve cult status, you have to figure out how to get customers to spend time with you.

In retail, consider allocating some resource for experiences, rather than devoting all the space in your shop to displaying products. Some Lush stores, for example, have large sinks where shoppers can try out its soaps. At Forever 21, you might find a fun photobooth aimed at its young shoppers.

For more brand personality inspiration, look no further than these successful branding examples. Here’s how some of the biggest cult brands get their personality across.

(1) A consistent brand story: The Apple edge

This tech giant is all about lifestyle. Its brand narrative is about innovation, imagination, aspiration and linking people through technology.

Apple has fostered a community around its sleek, ergonomic products, knowing that all touch-points need to reinforce the brand. So its retail outlets, spacious and minimalist, give off the same stylish and intuitive aura.

Apple's brand story is about simplicity and cutting-edge design.

Apple is all about simplicity and cutting-edge design. © urbancow

It’s that premium-feel that entices people to collect Apple products and install its software. The entire family gets in on the fun because it’s easy to use – the amount of kids playing educational games or parents playing videos for them on the train via iPad has skyrocketed.

See that? It’s a lifestyle thing.

Bearing all the above in mind, what Apple really has going for it is consistency and simplicity.

It champions cutting-edge design, its products are easy to use, and it oozes confidence.

In short, Apple always delivers on its brand promise.

(2) A brand personality for everyone: CrossFit’s engaged community

CrossFit has developed a very different kind of following. It’s for those aspiring to get fit and push themselves that little bit harder.

It might come as a shock to learn that CrossFit is actually only a workout regimen. But what CEO Greg Glassman does best is hand over ownership of the brand to everyone.

With training at its core, people have gone on to create communities in which every member is a brand advocate and they encourage each other to perform to the best of their abilities.

CrossFit is arguably one of the best examples of a brand sharing a set of clear core values – not just with staff but the people that buy into the product.

It’s not about glitz or glamour. You’ll often find these workout branches located in converted auto body workshops. It’s all about being social – about teamwork and a shared passion.

CrossFit’s social media platforms highlight that passion. People far and wide share their training – and who they do it with. It’s one of the best brand personality examples around.

Crossfit is a good example of a company with a successful brand personality

Crossfit’s Instagram account reflects their brand personality well. © porttowercrossfit

(3) A stunt-filled brand story: Red Bull’s action plan

Red Bull’s brand personality could perhaps be summed up as ‘adrenaline junkie’: thrill-seeking and unpredictable. It’s fun-loving, quirky and “gives you wings”.

Yet, aside from its cartoon TV skits, when do you remember seeing an actual Red Bull product advertised? The company knows who its audience is – and what they don’t want.

The result isn’t traditional media ads, but instead a social media stream featuring sporting stunts and events.

With more than 7 million subscribers, its YouTube channel highlights the up-to-date action. And consumers can’t wait to tune in to see what they’ve come up with.

(4) An authentic brand narrative: IKEA keeps it real

When it comes to brand personality, being authentic is sometimes more effective than “being cool”. IKEA is a brilliant example of this.

The company is well known for its sassy and humorous attitude.

IKEA spoofed Apple in a video ad for the 2015 catalogue

This marks it out from the more “vetted” tone of voice some companies adopt. It’s honest, yet its tone of voice remains completely unique.

Even better, the IKEA personality wasn’t based on data or surveys. The company just went with the flow. Its distinct voice is a reflection of its culture in full swing.

It also takes customer pain points very seriously. The company even sends design experts to peoples’ houses to find out what their biggest gripes are.

More importantly, it’s a company that does exactly as it says on the tin. It doesn’t flaunt its ethical endeavours, but they are there for all to see. Especially in this day and age, transparency, not to mention sustainability, go a long way.

As the heart and soul of your brand, storytelling is an essential part of content marketing.

If you want to learn how to do it well, we’ve written a free Content Marketing Guide to help you bring your content to life:

Download your free content marketing guide now




By Shané Schutte, Deputy Editor Real Business