During the summer internship, when I was asked to create an official sina weibo account (the Chinese version of twitter) of our PR agency, the first idea came to my mind is that I want a picture of a lady dressed in orange to be this account’s profile picture because our agency’s representative color is orange, which is also the color tone of all staff’s business cards. The basic idea is that we want to personify this account as an office lady who loves work and life. All the posts will be like causal talks, office gossips, small opinions and even little complaints, but secretly hide in some of the project information that we are doing. We want this account to create a positive, professional, approachable impression for the brand, not just another simple advertising platform.
The idea of brand personification has been applied by many brands. In 2011, Dolce & Gabbana commissioned one of its employees to anonymously provide behind-the-scenes photos and details via Twitter in Milan Fashion week to personify the brand. These tweets provide D&G customers an insider’s perspectives on goings-on of D & G, including pictures of models, samples of makeup, runway images and pictures of Stefano Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and other brand heads. According to Daniel Rosenberg, a social media expert from Ann Arbor, “The strategy is to focus on creating a personality outside of the generic D & G Twitter handle and by doing this it enables a social personality that people like to see,” “A mundane Twitter account just offering deals is cool, but consumers want to see somebody in the trenches. D& G wants to create a personality that is internalized so that they can push it out,” he said.
There are sufficient theoretical explanations for brand personification. When asking about a brand, most people will immediately come up with a few words to describe this brand. Marlboro is ‘masculine’ while Virginia Slims is ‘feminine’ IBM is ‘older’ while Apple is ‘younger. Coke is ‘conforming’ while Pepsi is ‘irreverent’. Axe is about seduction, masculinity, unconventionality and Levi’s is about rebellion, sensuality, being cool. It all comes so naturally and intuitively that you almost feel like talking about some friends with certain characteristics. Such set of human characteristics attached with brands are called brand personality. Brand personality, like human personality, is both distinctive and enduring. It is formed from the average consumers’ experiences with the brand and represents the common expectation from a brand.
Successfully building brand personality helps the company gain an in-depth understanding of consumer perceptions of brand. It contributes to a differentiating identity, guides the communication effort and even creates brand equity.
Even though brand personification can be achieved by various ways, such as its sponsorship and logo, I’m particular interested in its utilization in brand management in social media. Previous survey shows that there are 61% of fans follow a brand page for the purpose of obtaining discount information, another 55% for the brand-relevant events and information. For those discount information-oriented followers, will they resonate with a brand’s new communication contents? Or are some brands more suitable to implement such social media brand personification? For those brands that necessarily contain discounts, smartly personifying your brand on a social media platform while still providing your fans the information they want can be a skillful task.