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 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)
6. This person was born in ________ (pick one of the following cities that best represents the company’s personality.)
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)
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
_____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?
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
Culture geek. Proud Colorado native.