What is brand style?

|| July 22, 2014

fMRI based studies, along with more traditional approaches, have shown that we respond to brands in the same way we respond to words, rather than in the way we respond to people. For this reason, talking about a brand's 'style' is more useful than talking about its 'personality'.

Academic studies have not yet succeeded in definitively pinning down what brand style or personality is, but we all know it when we see it. Two competing formulations are Aaker's — Sincerity, Excitment, Competence, Sophistication and Ruggedness — and Geuens's — Responsibility, Activity, Aggressiveneess, Simplicity, Emotionality. There is evidence to suggest that these apply more to the American market than to the British or international markets.

To understand a brand's style, it's often more useful to ask a series of questions such as 'high tech or home-made?', 'heritage or cutting-edge?', to progressively pin down what kind of resonances or associations the brand has.

Although hard to define academically, a strong understanding of a brand's style is crucial in determining name, colours, photography, tone of voice and so on.