Posted by: kwbrand | July 21, 2010

Brand Personality Test

Maybe it’s the fog and chill of today’s Colorado summer mountain rain, but I’m feeling all deep and existential.

Who are we? How are we known? How do the attributes by which we are known help others understand and connect with us?  

It’s not a novel concept to note that we are all different and that our differences derive from the particularities or our genetics, past experiences and choices. The same is true organizations of people. Over the years, I’ve worked with more than thirty colleges and universities engaged in the same types of work with the same basic sets of people and yet each institution is different—sometimes vastly different—from its peers as a result of its own strategic genes, legacy and choices. Each has its own personality.

I was reminded of a tool I developed and used with for-profit clients several years ago. Each of these clients had been in business long enough to have developed their own corporate personality. I had been called upon to clarify and focus their brand strategy and so I developed a brand personality assessment as a part of the research we did with their existing customers. It was a fun and insightful way to get at the relationship an organization has with its constituents in a manner that goes much deeper than simple conversations about advertising campaigns, recognition and recall.

Want to try it? This is how the brand personality assessment works. Think of your organization as though it were an individual person. For example, if you worked for the powerhouse athletic apparel company Nike, try to envision “Nike” as a friend of yours; what do you know to be true of Nike? What types of things would be authentic expression of who Nike is? What would seem false?

Now it’s your turn. Instead of “Nike,” conjure up the name and associations that come to mind when you think of your own or another organization you know well. Remember to try to think of the organization as though it were an individual person, than answer some of the questions from the original brand personality assessment.

1. Where in the line-up of siblings was this person born?

Oldest      Middle     Youngest     Only Child

2. What kind of vehicle does this person drive?

_____SUV (that actually gets taken off-road from time to time)




_____A hybrid car

3. What kind of living space does this person have?

_____A downtown loft

_____A home large enough for a guestroom for elderly parent

_____A townhouse

_____A modest brick home

_____A teepee on a commune

4. What is this person’s favorite place to eat out? 


     _____The cool new bar downtown

     _____The artsy new bistro with tiny portions on large, oddly shaped plates


     _____Somewhere organic and local

5. What is this person’s favorite music?



     _____World music (i.e. foreign music)

     _____Classic Rock


6. This person was born in ________ (pick one of the following cities that best represents the company’s personality.)

     _____Des Moines


     _____Venice, Italy



7. On a major holiday, this person would be most likely to:

     _____Host the traditional meal at their home, make all the food from scratch

     _____Go to Aspen for a ski vacation

     _____Agree to come to your house for dinner and ask what they can bring

     _____Drink too much and get a little sloppy

     _____Do their holiday shopping at the last minute at 24-hour drugstore

8. It’s your birthday, this person…

     _____Bakes you a cake

     _____Surprises you with an adventure road trip

     _____Treats you to lunch

     _____Sends you a belated card (as usual)

     _____Completely forgets

9. You have a personal crisis, this person….

     _____Comes right over to your home with a meal and a card

     _____Takes you rock climbing to get your mind off of it

     _____Sends flowers

     _____Listens to you talk, but gets distracted

     _____Doesn’t return your call

10. You haven’t seen each other in a while. Who calls first?

     You       Him/Her

11. When you communicate with this person, you usually feel:

     _____Included in the discussion

     _____Like he/she expects you to read his/her mind

     _____Like he/she won’t shut up and let you get a word in edgewise

     _____Stupid! You feel you struggle to understand what he/she is saying

     _____Other (please explain)

12. If you were back in high school, this person would best be described as…

     _____The popular kid that everyone admired and/or hated

     _____The intelligent kid that had a circle of friends and no specific enemies

     _____The class nerd that everyone made fun of

     _____The druggy/stoner that broke the rules and scared people a little

     _____Who? (The loner no one really knew)

Interesting, isn’t it? What did you learn as you thought about the organization’s brand personality? I’d love to hear your insights. I’d also love to hear any new questions you’d like to see added to the assessment.

Kyndra Wilson, KW Brand Translation



  1. Nice article KW! I think my organization has continued to develop from early on… but I think there is a struggle with trying to maintain a social status with client entertainment to keep the clients satisfied on a social level which adds conflict with the companies actual services.

    Speaking of… Pizzaria Rustica is calling your name to join me on the patio!

    Let’s get together soon!


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