How To Determine Your Brand’s Personality

Written by:

Jesse Lane, Goodmaker & Founder

Branches Mission Lab

How recognizable is your brand?

Large nonprofits and companies often work with branding specialists to help identify and strengthen their brand. While this approach can work, it requires a lot of time and can cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I’d like to show you a fun way to understand your brand in just a few minutes.

Remember Mad Libs?

Where you fill in the blanks and create an odd and funny story? 

I am going to show you an exercise I call Brand Libs. It’s based on the idea behind Mad Libs, except it’s less silly and more helpful. (but still good for a few laughs!)

Brand Libs is a fun and easy way to get to know your brand. I’ve watched time and time again as clients get SO excited after doing this activity.

And I can’t blame them… clarity in brand personality is something worth celebrating. 

NOTE: This exercise works best when you do it with your team, Board, or another small group of people. This way you can get other people’s input and different perspectives. If you’re doing it alone, that’s okay too. You just may want to invite feedback when you are done.

How to do the Brand Libs exercise…

With Brand Libs, we’re going to turn your brand into a person.

Not just any person, but a person that you just met yesterday for the first time. 

A person that you had SUCH a great experience with.

You want to tell other people about this person (which, remember, is really your brand).

First, you are going to want to download this fill-in-the blank Brand Libs worksheet and possibly print it out.  

Give us your name and email here and we’ll send it to you…

    Now, have each participating individual complete the full page, on their own.

    If you come up with answers together, you’ll be at risk of group think and have much fewer ideas. 

    An Example In Action

    You’re probably familiar with the nonprofit World Vision. Let’s pretend that brand is a person. You could name that person Mr. Vision. 

    You just met him, and you had the ideal interaction with him. 

    Keep in mind that this is your dream. Your brand might not look like this today. This is a vision of what you would like your brand to be. 

    After you’ve had a great brand experience, you can’t wait to tell someone about it. 

    In this example, you’ll start by saying “Yesterday, I ran into Mr. Vision at a specific place.” 

    You might run into Mr. Vision at your church or at an airport.

    Now, let’s apply this question to your brand. You can make your brand male or female. Ask the following questions about the person that represents your brand. 

    Where might someone run into your brand (if it were a person)? 

    Would it be at the soccer field? Would someone find your brand at Chick-fil-a? Would she be found at the mall or at the library? Would he be at a bar? That’s up to you. 


    What would your brand be wearing? 

    I know this might sound silly, but it really is helpful in giving your brand clarity. Clothing actually says a lot about your brand’s personality. Was this person wearing a suit and a tie, or a polo and khakis? Maybe he or she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt? 

    How would you describe this person? 

    After meeting this individual, what words would you use to describe this person? Write down any answers that come to mind.

    Don’t overthink it.

    I know these questions can go in a lot of different directions. That’s okay. These questions are intended to get different answers from different people. 


    Next, what was this person passionate about? 

    When you met this person, let’s assume they were overflowing with passion about a certain topic. What would it be?

     You can always tell when a topic excites someone because their voice gets louder and their eyes light up. He or she might even move forward in their seat.

    What topics made this person get excited? 


    Why do you want to tell other people about this person? 

    Maybe you just instantly clicked with this other person (in your imaginary meeting).

    Step back for a moment. Try to figure out why you want to tell other people about this person.

    Are you inspired by their vision? Maybe she has a simple but powerful message.

    What’s your favorite part about him or her? 

    Anything that stands out to you here is worth noting. Did he have a great sense of humor? Did you both share some common interests? Were you inspired by their excitement?

    How did he make you feel??

    When everyone in your group is finished with the Brand Libs exercise, you’ll take turns reading all your answers.  PRO TIP: Make “the boss” (Founder, CEO, Executive Director, etc) go LAST.

    After everyone has read their worksheet, vote on the favorites and compile them into one master document that best represents the brand you desire.

    After you’re done with this exercise, you’ll start to understand what you want people to encounter and experience when they touch your brand—whether that’s on social media, on your website, or in real life encounters.  

    You can download the Brand Libs worksheet below. I recommend printing it out, or you can do it right on your computer.

    I’d love to hear how it goes!