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Rufus Leonard

The Psychology of Brand Experience

Rufus Leonard - Brand Psychology

Andy Marshall, Head of UX at Rufus Leonard, hosted a breakfast discussion last week to ask, why would a brand have a personality? The discussion centred around recognising the importance of brand personality and the way in which it forms both organically, and is crafted to suit a particular audience.

What is vital is that, in creating the brand’s personality, audience's personalities are not ignored. There is a clear link between the two, often opposing personalities, but no accurate predictor to determine which audience will suit which brand. For brands then, what is essential is that their personality is constantly being tried, tested and optimised, to create a character that people will want to align themselves with.

There are tools that brands can use to assist them in the optimisation of their personality. One such tool is the contemporary psychological theory that there are only five personality traits common to every individual, The Big 5. Another is Rufus Leonard’s Brand Experience Index, that allows brands to see how highly they score on offering a good brand experience, and how they compare to their competitors.

Brands can create and cement their own personalities, but they must always be open to considered and informed changes.


Andy Marshall, Head of UX, Rufus Leonard

Key take outs:

  • What do we know about people?
    Good products and services find the balance between form and function, between the conscious and the subconscious areas of a person’s brain. We select brands and products based on our individual preferences, but our desire for social belonging and acceptance influences how we see ourselves as an individual. As a brand, it is vital to understand the target audience and which brand personality appeals to them.
  • Money can have a strong and often socially awkward effect on relationships.
    Humans simultaneously operate in two worlds: market norms (exchange based business transactions where money is involved) and social norms (usually around friends and family – money is never involved). The two norms cannot happen simultaneously. There is nothing wrong with either but, as a brand, you have to decide which side you fall on. It is hard work to get into the social norms world but brands, such as John Lewis, will often push to exist there.
  • Contemporary psychology has identified five key personality traits.
    These traits have been called The Big 5: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Each trait is on a sliding scale from one extreme to the other. These five are essential to remember when optimising a brand’s personality, due to their correlations to an individual’s personality, albeit no accurate predictor.
  • The Brand Experience Index.
    Rufus Leonard have created this index to allow brands to see how highly they score on offering a good brand experience, and where they rank among their competitors.
  • Create, test and always optimise.
    You should constantly be tweaking, challenging and changing your brand to suit the personality of your target audience. The Big 5 and the Brand Experience Index are examples of objective tools to you should use create, test, and optimise your brand.


Download the full report here


Annemari Koppinen, New Business Manager, Rufus Leonard,

About the author

Izzy Ashton, Assistant Editor of BITE, Creativebrief

Izzy is a writer/researcher for BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She keeps abreast of the latest communication, technology and consumer news, and is responsible for conducting interviews with key agency strategists and creatives to gain insight into the most innovative global campaigns.

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