If you regularly watch this space, you probably read our recent piece on points of view and how to find the right POV for the brands you support

This week, we’re thinking about personality — another anthropomorphic concept with a distinct purpose. 

While a product POV represents what your product has to say about the world around it, a product personality is how your product says it. 

A successful product POV addresses topics of common interest with the product’s audience. A successful product personality establishes common ways of communicating with that audience, whatever the platform, format, or subject.

Anatomy of a product personality

Creating a personality that’s consistent enough to represent your product but flexible enough to adapt to different applications requires three components: voice, tone and style. 

Voice is the rock-solid constant in the personality profile. It expresses the core traits of the product in language. Wherever the product speaks up — in display ads, thought leadership pieces, videos, shopping guides, social media, and more — its voice must come through clearly. 

When it comes to tone (the ways the brand expresses itself to fit specific media and applications) and style (grammar, capitalization, formatting, and other mechanics suited to those different applications), flexibility is important. A person doesn’t write a tweet the same way they write an email to a friend, and neither should a product. But no matter the platform, the voice must remain true to the product. 

Putting your personality to the test

To ensure that consistency of voice, we use exercises that draw on the power of metaphor. Just as the concept of a “product personality” is itself a metaphor — imbuing the sum of a product’s communications with personhood — arriving at a coherent product personality benefits from testing it in human terms. 

Our Brand Libs tool attached here uses the principle of Mad Libs to test out the story you want your product to tell.

To use it, grab a partner and ask them to name real-world items — from car makes to song titles — that they feel characterize the product. Fill the corresponding blanks in the story template with the words your partner provides.

Together, read through the story you’ve created to identify whether your concept of the product hangs together or lacks cohesion. We’ve provided some questions to consider when reviewing your results.