How to develop your thought leadership brand personality

March 17, 2021

Show the “face” of your organization through your brand personality in your thought leadership content.

As you continuously show up in the world as a trusted voice for your target audience, it’s worthwhile to consider your brand personality.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur or nonprofit executive, you serve a group of people and try to make the world better for them. Crafting a strong brand personality for your thought leadership helps your audience pick up your content, resonate with your message, and begin to trust you because of how you make them feel.

Protip: click here for a fillable cheat sheet to hone your own brand personality for your content. I put one together for you!

The five dimensions of brand personality framework organizes how larger, corporate brands act and speak (per Jennifer Aaker’s Five Dimensions of Brand Personality). All brands have a combination of sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. These can help organize your own thinking when crafting your own personal brand personality as a thought leader.

Five brand personalities for your thought leadership content

Sincere brands give you the warm fuzzy feeling and make you say aww.  You want to invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. Words to describe them are: honest, kind, genuine, thoughtful, cheerful, wholesome, down-to-earth, humble, care giving, being of service, family-oriented and generous. Think of Oprah. 

Exciting brands are hip and energetic, the equivalent of tight leather pants. You’re nervous about introducing them to your parents. Words to describe them are: daring, carefree, spirited, imaginative, youthful, cool, unique, revolutionary, and anti-establishment. Think of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Competent brands are reliable, “steady-Eddy”- you can count on them no matter what. They are the people you call when it’s time to “phone a friend” for the million-dollar question. Words to describe them are: responsible, trustworthy, intelligent, successful, humbly confident, accomplished, influential. Think of Bill Gates.

Sophisticated brands sparkle and dazzle – you want a picture with them for your Instagram. They elevate your social status. Words to describe them are: luxurious, glamorous, charming, elegant, bougie, elevated, prestigious. Think of Beyonce.

Rugged brands keep on ticking despite all obstacles. You want them as a teammate on the Amazing Race. Words to describe them are: authentic, hard-working, athletic, tough, strong, do-what-takes. Think of Abby Wambach. 

Why is brand personality important?

Just like selecting your niche, clarifying your brand personality helps intentionally attract the right people to you.  It can feel difficult to feel pigeonholed within one brand personality. Personalities are multifaceted. Every brand is a combination of these, depending on the occasion. Just because you pick a main trait does not mean you are not also another. AOC is exciting, but she is also competent. Beyonce is sophisticated, but she is also sincere.

If other thought leaders within your niche falls within one of these traits by virtue of what they do, consider the next trait as your primary. For example, (almost) every nonprofit Executive Director is sincere. (Almost) every OB-GYN is competent. How do you stand out amongst your peers?

Think of other influencers within your niche to get some ideas of the brand voice and tone they have adopted. Selecting another brand personality (if it’s genuine and authentic to you) can create space to stand out as you stand up for your mission.   

Also, take care to consistently portray this brand personality throughout all your channels, whether you’re giving a speech, writing content, facilitating a panel, or any way you show up in the world in front of your target audience. My brand personality words are trustworthy, cheerful, and thoughtful. So, every time I publish a LinkedIn post or write a letter, I consider if my work is coming off that way. Your audience can get confused or turned off if you take a sudden departure from your usual brand personality, even if they don’t realize why.  

Most importantly, your brand voice must be authentically you. It will be exhausting to take on a sophisticated personality (for example) when you are truly not that way within your core. And your audience will know you’re faking it. Be you – you are beloved that way!

Don’t forget, I put together this fillable cheat sheet to help you create your own brand personality. Download it here!  

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