Simona Cellar – Brand Designer – Why brand personality matters: The power of emotion in building a stronger connection to your target audience
Why brand personality matters: The power of emotion in building a stronger connection to your target audience
Winter hike Moosfluh – Chüestall – Riederalp, Switzerland (© Simona Cellar)
While not every Swiss person loves being in the mountains, I most certainly do. I love being surrounded by the tall mountains. When the peaks tower above me, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. When I recently went to a museum, I had those same emotions again and started to wonder: How is it that I get the same feelings from nature and from architecture? And why does an environment have such a great impact on my emotions? What makes me so drawn to certain places? In my quest to find out, I also realized why a brand’s personality in a visual identity matters so much. Keep reading to find out.
So, the first question to answer: Why was I drawn to these places?
Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland (© Simona Cellar)
Duh, designers love design
By profession, I will obviously be drawn to the beauty and design around me. As designers, it’s our job to make sense of complex topics, order and simplify information and present it in an appealing way. We know all about design principles, which in this case, the mountains, and museums just translate to the „principle of scale“. When large objects are placed next to small ones, it creates a sense of harmony and order. Being in that museum (see for yourself here), I feel in awe because the scale within the architecture and me is so significant that I feel small and humbled compared to it. But it’s also about the combination of materials and little details that do it for me.
Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland (© Simona Cellar)
«As designers, it’s our job to make sense of complex topics, order and simplify information and present it in an appealing way.»
Okay, but what about non-designers, normal human beings? Why are they drawn to different places?
Different personality traits resonate with different aesthetics
I once mentioned to a good friend of mine how I love Zurich. How it’s so clean and in order. She replied, that’s exactly what bothers her about it. She said the city lacks character. She used to live in London for many years and came to appreciate the not so perfect city. She found the imperfections charming and part of what made the city unique. I thought it was quite interesting how she interpreted what I found to be bothersome as unique and charming. I knew that the both of us had completely different personalities and that it surely must have something to do with it.
London, UK (© Simona Cellar)
As an introvert, I feel overwhelmed about the noise of the world sometimes. To counterbalance this, introverts crave organized, peaceful environments. According to research, introverts prefer mountains for its secluded environment, which aligns with my desire for peace and quiet. My friend, the pure opposite of me, is an extrovert. Personality and environment research shows that extroverts prefer a noisier environment than introverts. Which I find absolutely true with my friend. She enjoys being around people and vibrant places. It seems the lively and vibrant environment energizes her.
«Introverts are more drawn to quieter environments, while extroverts are drawn to environments that are more stimulating.»
Of course, we both enjoy different environments as well. I don’t always want to be in a museum and my friend also enjoys the mountains sometimes. What it also comes down to then, is our moods.
Different moods resonate with different aesthetics
It’s no secret that our preferences for certain aesthetics can also depend on the way we feel. When I feel stressed, I will appreciate the calming and soothing soft lighting, pastel colors, and natural elements like plants or water. It will make me feel a lot more at peace. And being around the bright sunlight will lift me up, while the cloudy, rainy city weather will drag me down.
Our moods influence our desire for certain aesthetics and colors. And visuals have the power to improve or worsen our moods.
Personal experiences and memories impact preferences for visuals
Growing up in Zurich was a lot about city life, green parks, forests, and mountains. Clean surroundings, order, and structure. Although I may not have been aware of it back then, beauty is found in many places: Things are either contemporary or have a historical charm in Zurich. Of course, that’s my personal interpretation and experience. My friend will have her own unique experiences and interpretations.
The point is, we know from research that personal experiences from our past shape the visual cues we are drawn to today. Being exposed to certain styles or types of visual content, leads us to develop a preference for that content. When I travel today, I feel more connected to cities that are similar to mine, because it’s what I’m used to from my past experiences and my upbringing.
When I stumbled across a video on how good design no longer matters, because gen Z thinks it feels inauthentic, I was taken aback for a moment. Is all good design over now? OMG, what am I gonna do with my life now??? I quickly calmed down and realized: Yes, the guy in the video has an interesting perspective. But it’s just that. One perspective. If my target audience are gen Z people, I will remember the tips and pointers he mentioned. Then I realized, this is also a great example of culture.
Tamagotchi (© COSMOH LOVE, Unsplash)
Culture is the time and place we live in. Culture also shapes our visual preferences. Different cultures have different aesthetic traditions and values. Gen Z’s culture today is about being authentic by imperfect or lack of design. I grew up in the 90ies, where I was the owner of a Tamagotchi. I listened to music on my CD player and got my very first Nokia cell phone when I was 17. When I see or think about these objects today, I instantly feel warm and connected to my past again.
The impact of Design & Aesthetics
So, up until now, we determined that visual preferences are influenced by personality traits, the mood we’re in, our personal experiences and our culture. And it also goes in the other direction: We can impact our mood by being exposed to different visuals.
«Visual preferences are influenced by personality traits, the mood we’re in, our personal experiences and our culture.»
Design can be used to solve problems and make spaces more functional by creating a sense of flow and movement through a space. People’s behavior can be influenced by providing visual cues that guide them to certain areas or activities. Good design can also be used to create a sense of belonging and community by making spaces welcoming, inclusive, and relatable.
So, what’s the point of all this now?
Speak the visual language of your target audience by developing a brand personality
Knowing how visual preferences are influenced, we can research our target audience and find out what visuals they’re attracted to and build better connections with them. This is what brand personality is all about. As part of the brand strategy, brand personality is the set of personality traits that a brand represents. Creating a brand personality involves identifying the unique characteristics and traits that will resonate with a brand’s target audience and then aligning all of the brand’s visual and verbal elements to convey those traits consistently. At the same time, the characteristics need to match the company’s own brand values. This will create a powerful connection between your company and target audience.
«Brand personality involves identifying the unique characteristics and traits that will resonate with a brand’s target audience and then aligning all of the brand’s visual and verbal elements to convey those traits consistently.»
By learning more about our ideal clients’ personalities, their past experiences, and their culture we can create powerful visuals and environments that speak to our customers’ emotions and create stronger and more memorable connections to our business.
If you’ll excuse me now, it’s February, snow has fallen, and I need to get me some of that pretty mountain view.
Aletsch glaciers (© Simona Cellar)