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Hello, Kevin Namaky here. Today we’re going to learn to write the brand character and tone statement in a creative brief. This is the final section of the creative brief that we’ll learn in this creative series.
The Central Question When Writing a Brand Character and Tone Statement
What we’re trying to answer when we get to this final part of the creative brief is:
“In what way should we speak to the target?”
I’ve grouped the tips today into a few key categories. The first is things to consider, which will be questions to ask yourself or things to think about as you’re writing your character and tone statement. The second is dos, and the third is the don’ts of writing a character and tone statement.
Things to Consider When Writing a Brand Character and Tone Statement
You can actually go on Google and type in brand archetype and you’ll get a number of example models that you can check out. This is useful information you can think about when you’re writing the character and tone statement.
You will see a wheel of different types of archetypes of brand characters, and example brands that fit those different types. Use that as a tool and think about how it applies to your brand. Which brand personality, or archetype, might your brand be? Just be aware that not all brands have to fit into a single box. You can also combine and there are some variations in between—but it’s a good place to start.
Consider what makes your brand personality different from others. A lot of times, brand personalities or brand characters sound very similar inside of the same category. You want to think about how your brand is different in terms of its personality.
Does it Inspire
Third, does your brand character inspire the creative team that’s about to do the work? Whether it’s an agency or an internal team, you want the character to actually inspire something and inspire good creative work.
Things to Do When Writing a Brand Character and Tone Statement
The first thing we have to do is positioning. Hopefully, your brand has some kind of positioning in place, an equity pyramid, or a positioning statement, and there may be character implications there. Or, you may have identified a character already. If that’s the case, you should pull that and bring that into your creative brief.
Name or Describe an Actual Person
If you’re writing a brand character, it’s important and helpful to think about a single person. Otherwise, you’ll likely write an impersonal statement that lacks character or that doesn’t paint a clear picture in the mind of the person reading your creative brief.
Brand Character ≠ Target Audience
The brand character isn’t necessarily the same as your target audience. But you do want to think of the brand character as a person. Simply keep in mind that your target audience and your brand character are likely be two different people.
Things Not to Do When Writing a Brand Character and Tone Statement
Under our don’ts, these are watch-outs we want to avoid when writing the character or tone statement.
Being Vague or Common
There are lots of common, vague words and language that appear in brand character and tone boxes on briefs. Many brands think that it makes them different or unique when in reality everybody sounds the same. We don’t want to be vague or common. We want to use specific language.
If we don’t think of the brand character as a unique person, then chances are we’re going to lack some personality and we’re really not going to get creative work that stands out.
If we have a brand position or brand equity that we’re trying to develop over time, we want to reinforce that and not counteract that.
Brand Character and Tone Statement Examples
Now that we’ve gone through these tips, I want to show you a couple of examples that help bring them to life.
Example #1 – Not so great example
The first would be a not so great example of language you often see in brand character or tone statements within creative briefs:
Trustworthy, approachable, comfortable, relatable, friendly, modern, innovative.
These are all nice-sounding words and many brands would want to be these things. But, when you see this kind of language in the character or tone box, it really leads to a bunch of nothing. To be honest, it’s not unique, it doesn’t stand out, and it sounds like what other brands might want to have associated with their brand.
Example #2 – Great example
When you use these tips and you actually think about a unique person in a unique voice, you’ll likely end up with something much better:
An inspirational General Patton speaker. He’s loud, bold, brash, calculated in pace, and confidently persuasive. He’s the kind of person that you would follow into any situation.
That brand character statement is much more inspirational and more specific. And, you can see how it could lead you to advertising or communications that stand out and are unique in the marketplace—not just something vague and generic.
Use these tips and when you’re writing your next creative brief and you’ll can come up with a brand character and tone for your brand that’s much stronger.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.