Do You Know Your Startup’s Brand Personality?

Everything from the colors you choose to which social media you use defines your brand personality. Make sure the choices you make are ones that jives with your customer focus.

Every brand has a personality, even the smallest start-up. Do you know yours?  Keep in mind, if you consider yourself part of the tech startups then this is especially important.  There is more to a tech startup than the tech!

It is a good idea to sit down with your team as early as possible to establish a formal brand personality right at the outset.  The way you present your start-up to the outside world depends entirely on the decisions made in these first meetings.  You don‘t want to be giving out the wrong signals.

There’s no going back to change the personality once your brand is widely known to the public.

Make sure you are familiar with your start-up‘s brand personality, and how to present it effectively before your product or service becomes a household name. (If you’re new to the startup world, be sure to signup to get access to the ultimate business startup checklist!!)

Brand Identity vs Brand Personality

It is easy to confuse brand personality with brand identity.

Brand identity represents the signals that are recognizable to an audience as being associated with your brand.  For example your logo, colors and even the typeface you use.

Brand personality is closely related to brand identity in that it refers to the human characteristics of your brand.  It may be fun-loving, caring or sophisticated. Any adjective that people use to describe your brand defines its personality.

The two are closely related. In fact, brand identity can be seen as the nuts and bolts of brand personality.  All the aspects that make up these human traits of your brand should come across in the way you present it to the world.

Where Does Your Brand Fit In?

Consumers judge brands on a sliding scale according to 5 categories, these are:

1. Brand Competence

This relates to how intelligent, successful, reliable and expert your brand is believed to be.

2. Brand Sincerity

Do you come across as reliable and honest?

3. Brand Excitement

Some brands are seen as more ‘out there’ and daring than others.

4. Brand Sophistication

Some brands have an aura of charm and refinement, while others are more down-to-earth and homely?

5. Brand Toughness

Similarly, some brands come across as powerful and forceful while others seem gentle.

Ask Around

If you skipped the planning stages before forging ahead into the business world, you can ask your friends and customers to describe your brand personality to you.  If you are happy with what you hear you are doing something right, if not, it’s back to the drawing board.

If you are doing your homework first, a brainstorming session is in order.  Assemble your forces and think up adjectives that you would like people to use when describing your brand.

Attending workshops or reading up on branding can help you to get started.  One of my all-time favorite resources is Neil Patel’s Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand.  His insights are well crafted and, frankly, I am amazed at his complete transparency on the subject, all there for us to digest and use.  (Thanks, Neil!)

Think about where you would like your brand personality to fit in with the 5 dimensions of brand personality above.

Think in antonyms. For example, would you like your brand to be formal or funny, reserved or daring, classic or trendy? And so on.

Remember that for your brand to speak effectively to your target audience, it should mimic characteristics that they aspire to.  People relate to brands that reflect their own perceived personality.

Build your Brand Personality FIRST

Once you have established a collection of adjective to describe your brand, everything you do from then on should reflect this unique personality.  Create a brand bible and style guide for reference so that you do not accidentally stray from the path.

Make sure all your design work reflects this personality. You don’t want people thinking your brand is schizophrenic, or worse – two-faced.

Now Focus on Brand Identity


Your logo is the face of your brand and should reflect its personality accurately.  Think of the IBM logo versus the Apple logo.  The former is formal and business-like while the latter is fun and quirky.  Both of these successful companies have designed their logos to reflect the personality of their audience, and consequently their brands.

If you’re not the creative type like me, you may consider posting a job on an outsourcing site such as  You can actually see various ideas from freelance designers and pick the one that best fits your brand’s personality.

Other Design Elements

The main design elements that can affect how your brand is perceived are typography, color, and imagery.


Much of your brand communication will take the form of words. Choose a typeface that matches your brand personality, or create one.  Many emerging brands are turning away from the standard selection of typefaces to establish their originality.

It makes sense for a bank to have a plain neat font in their logo and advertisements, but a calligrapher? Not so much.

Take a look at these images to see how different fonts can create different impressions and how they are used in logos.

When choosing a typeface remember that it needs to be appropriate for all its applications, from print to web and laptop to mobile.


Colors can be very emotive. Warm colors create a happy, inviting, active vibe while cool colors come across as calm and serene.  Warm colors are those along the spectrum from yellow to red, while cool colors include blue, violet and everything in between.

The absence of color creates a stark, simple appearance while contrasting colors represent energy and activity. Complementary colors create a sense of harmony and trust.

Wise use of color will send out positive subconscious cues about your brand.


It’s true that a picture speaks a thousand words. Images can evoke powerful emotions in the viewer.

Clear bright images can be inviting and happy, while dark murky images are mysterious or even gloomy. You can use images in so many ways to create a mood around your social media and website.

It’s not just the content that counts either, other design elements around your images can have a big impact too.

For instance, placing a heavy border around your visuals creates a strong, impactful impression, while no borders suggest an informal, fun environment.

Square elements in your design hint at formality, while rounded edges are more casual and modern.

Clever use of white space creates a sense of organized harmony, or you could cause chaos with cluttered, tightly packed elements.  It all depends on how you want your brand personality to come across.

Getting On With It

Great design and awesome ideas are all very well, but before you implement anything, consider how it will impact how people think of your brand. Big bold moves when your brand comes across as cautious and reserved cause chaos in the minds of your audience.

Need some help getting started? Get in touch and I help you get on the right track.