Getting your brand personality right is the often overlooked key to bringing your brand to life. You can know why you do what you do (your brand purpose), but if you don't know who you are, nothing will ring true.
This is why it is imperative to get descriptive with the definition of your brand personality.
Too many times, I've seen brand guidelines that state the brand is 'helpful', 'caring', or any number of other words that are undeniably noble. But they don't really give you a sense for who the brand is.
Using brand personality characteristic spectrums
The best way to avoid falling into generalities is to create a series of meaningful characteristic spectrums that you can use to spark a productive debate with your stakeholder group. Here's an example of these spectrums. Imagine a slider. On the far left hand side is the word 'Serious'. On the far right hand side is the word 'Humorous'. There is a bar connecting the two. And on that bar is a slider that can be positioned on one end or the other or anywhere in between. Where would you place that slider to describe your brand personality?
This is a much more informative approach. I can't think of a brand that can be characterized as totally serious or completely humorous. It is more likely to be degrees somewhere between the two. This is why the slider gives you a truer description of the characteristic of the brand personality.
One word of warning. As you pair up characteristics, make sure each is potentially desirable. For example, I've seen spectrums where at one end is the word 'Warm' and at the other end is the word 'Cold". Or at one end is 'Simple' and at the other end is 'Complicated'. Seriously? Do you know of any brand that would consider 'Cold' and 'Complicated' as potential characteristics?
Choose your pairings thoughtfully. The juxtaposition should help illustrate the nuance of your characteristics. Here is an example of meaningful pairings:
Rational <-----> Emotional
Informative <-----> Inspiring
Expert <-----> Peer
Professorial <-----> Conversational
Academic <-----> Common Sense
Technical <-----> Plain Spoken
Serious <-----> Humorous
Objective <-----> Persuasive
Detailed <-----> Big Picture
Formal <-----> Informal
Once you have identified your pairs, engage your stakeholder group to define where each slider lands on the spectrum between each pair of characteristics. This framework allows thoughtful evaluation of each characteristic of the personality. And helps us understand the interplay between all the characteristics.
At the end of the exercise, you will have captured the nuance of each of the characteristics. Moreover, the combination of these nuanced characteristics will create a rich portrait. A portrait that gives you a clear depiction of your brand personality.