What are Aaker’s 5 Dimensions of Brand Personality?

Having a strong personality takes you from being a small business to a brand

Have you ever considered that your small business has a personality of its own? You might think I’m bonkers to suggest it, but it truly does, whether you’ve planned it or not.

The way you communicate with your customers; the way you look, sound, and make people feel; that’s all part of your personality. Having a personality helps you build a brand. It helps make you feel more human.

Those that hone in on it, develop it strategically, and keep it consistent, are the ones that are reaping the rewards of a loyal and loving fanbase.

This isn’t an idea I’ve plucked out of thin air. It’s actually a concept that’s been studied and noted in the branding books for donkeys.

All thanks to Jennifer Aeker.

Aaker is a Marketer and Stanford Uni Professor who coined the term ‘brand personality’ in 1997, before going on to publish a paper that’s now become one of the most referenced tools in branding: Dimensions of Brand Personality. (Journal of Marketing Research)

What she realised, was that psychologists had found a way to categorise human personalities into ‘The Big Five’ dimensions, (extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism). But, no one had done anything of the sort for business. No one had looked at consumer behaviour in response to brand personality.

Could all brands fall into one of 5 different personality types? As it turns out, yeah. They could.

Alright, but why does it matter what they are, and what they mean?

It all sounds a bit complicated and sciencey, I know. But actually, it’s a pretty simple concept.

Once you know about the 5, you can start to see how the brands you love (and loathe) slot in.

Understanding the dimensions gives you a great starting point for developing your own brand personality – or determining where you already sit.

Are you happy with where you currently are? Do you switch between a few? If yours feels inconsistent, this is your chance to spot it and hone things in.

Slalleming between multiple personality traits may feel easier, but in the long run, it’s confusing for your customer. How do they know if they’ll connect with you if you’re constantly communicating differently?

If one minute you’re all calm and collected, with relaxing visuals and a calming tone, and the next you’re shouting expletives, posting graphics in neon colours and chucking exclamations left right and centre? Nothing wrong with either, but both will leave people feeling muddled.

I want you to think: Who are you? Who do you want to be?

If you’re stuck, take a look at your competitors to see if you can slot them into one specific dimension. Then you can decide, ‘Do I want to fit in? Or stand out with a different personality?’.

You can begin to get a picture of what works and what doesn’t in your niche and start to push the boundaries to reach your dream audience.

The 5 Dimen

(with examples)

Brands that fall into this dimension have down-to-earth traits. They’re trustworthy, authentic and honest. The David Attenborough of brands.

They’re wholesome and cheery, leaving you smiling and feeling well looked after.

Other traits that fall into this category are:

  • Friendly

  • Humble

  • Ethereal

  • Respectful

  • Relatable

It typically works well with brands in hospitality or service, as well as food. Engaging with them feels calm, the colours are charming, and you may find a touch of whimsy in their positive attitude. Can you think of any brands that sit here? Here’re a few…

Disney, M&S, Cadbury, Patagonia.

In My Sustainable World would also fit in here, I’d say. A wellness retreat brand that recently had a visual overhaul by Khrissie here at Co.Lab Studios. Check it out, it’s dreamy.

These guys are the spontaneous ones. The one’s ready to jump in and feel the fun. They’re edgy and on-trend. They feel hyper-relatable to people looking for more from who they buy from.

They might offer up something unexpected once in a while, to keep you on your toes, but they don’t take things too seriously.

Other traits that fall into this category are:

  • Playful

  • Funny

  • Punchy

  • Cool

  • Bold

  • Excitable

  • Innovative

They’re typically loved by younger folks, those with an active lifestyle who love music and adventure and adrenaline. You’ll find unusual fonts, bold colours, punchy language with excitement brands.

Can you think of any? The most highly noted one is Red Bull, but Tesla and Nike also sit well here.

Looking for a reliable and knowledgeable brand? Competence is the dimension for that. Brands here meet high standards, know their stuff, and air on the side of professionalism.

They’re efficient, so are usually service or tech brands, banks and the like.

Other traits that fall into this category are:

  • Scientific

  • Witty

  • Self-aware

  • Reliable

  • Worldly

  • Established

  • Confident

Any brand spring to mind? Microsoft, Apple, Google and Volvo are prime examples.

You’ll notice bold and easy-to-read fonts, lots of blue, white and red, along with trustworthy ambassadors. These guys are less likely to be lip-syncing on TikTok… A bit more suit and tie than ripped jeans and a tee.

Well how do you do, the sophisticated brand is high brow.

Slightly pretentious, often romantic, and totally glamorous. Expect cursive fonts and handwritten script, deep greens (wealth) and luxurious imagery.

You’ll find sophisticated brands across a lot of sectors, from jewellery to cars and fine dining, it’s fairly adaptable and depends on the end product.

You could get service brands in here, too. Those that work with the elite, perhaps.

Other traits that fall into this category are:

  • Affirming

  • Professional

  • Elegant

  • Exclusive

  • Enticing

  • Alluring

  • Charming

Brownie points if you’re thinking of Tiffany now, because you’d be spot on. Also think Rolex, Apple (you can sit across 2, you just need to consistently sit across 2) or Chanel.

Oof, ruggedness. Think Tom Hardy in Mad Max. They typically feel more ‘masculine’ in nature, are tough, resilient and self-assured.

You tend to see a love for outdoorsy-ness, here, with a touch of rebellion. Plenty of darker colours, strong, think fonts, and to-the-point language.

They’re not messing about, the rugged lot.

Other traits that fall into this category are:

  • Tough

  • Savvy

  • Tongue-in-cheek

  • Assertive

  • Rebellious

  • Spirited

  • Macho

Any ideas? One of the most noted examples of this dimension is Harley Davidson, but Land Rover and Timberland are in here, too.

So, where do you sit?

I’d love to know if this was interesting to you, is there a dimension that you obviously sit in? Or are you a few of them, blended up?

It’s absolutely fine to pull traits from 2 or 3 dimensions, the key is to do that consistently. It’ll help your customers understand whether they resonate with you or not. Because, as with humans, you won’t (and shouldn’t try to be) everyone’s cup of tea.

I’d put Co.Lab Studios in the Sincerity dimension, with a splash of Sophistication. Would you agree? DM me!


P.S - if you need a hand figuring out your personality and voice, I’ve got a workshop coming up that will help! Build Your Brand Voice Blueprint is on Friday 5th August at 2pm UK time (online) and tickets are on sale now until July 29th. More info, here.


Live Innovation | Aaker’s 5 Dimensions of Brand Personality:


Very Well Mind | The Big 5 Personality Dimensions:


Journal | Dimensions of Brand Personality overview:


Upwork | Brand Personality: