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Brand DNA—What is it and why does it matter?

Understanding the DNA of your brand can tell you how it’s best expressed to your audience & creates an enthralling narrative that keeps them engaged.

Image of Double Helix DNA Strand

Just like sequences of genetic code determine whether a person has green eyes or curly hair, how a brand is viewed and expressed is also determined by a DNA type structure. While our genes are made of 4 base pairs, a brand’s DNA is built through multiple parts, including the Brand’s Story, Personality, Values, and Essence. These components are the building blocks that form the rationale behind your DNA.

Building Blocks of a Brand

  • Brand Story: A cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings created by your brand.
  • Brand Personality: A framework that helps a brand shape the way people feel about its product, service, or mission.
  • Brand Values: The foundational beliefs a brand stands for. These are ideals that guide the brand’s actions.
  • Brand Essence: A single thought, summarized in 3-5 words that captures the soul of the brand; its fundamental nature. (Not to be confused with a tagline!)

Why Brand DNA Matters

Every brand inherently has a purpose for being. Your brand’s purpose is a direct way to show your audience who you are, who you aren’t, and what exactly you stand for. It helps you determine your audience and how best to establish trust and sincerity through expression & communication.

Archetypes of BRAND DNA

But wait, there’s more! If Brand DNA is the genetic code, then archetypes are like a Myers-Briggs test, but for brands! First established by a psychoanalyst Carl Jung, a brand can fall under one of 12 established archetypes. These 12 Jungian Archetypes represent the core elements of the human experience. Brand archetypes build a brand’s character, making them accessible and relatable to audiences who share those same values. By aligning your brand with an archetype shows relatability and gives your brand a framework to build a meaningful personality, correct tone of voice, and a powerful sense of storytelling. Who doesn’t love a good story?

“Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it actually were alive in some way, they have a relationship with it and care about it.”

12 Archetypes in Branding

Everything to Everyone

A well-defined DNA should serve as a point of differentiation for your brand, helping you carve out a unique space in the marketplace. If you try to be everything to everyone, you risk being perceived as disingenuous or, even worse, alienating your intended target. Knowing the audience you’re speaking to and how to appeal to them is crucial—you wouldn’t want to present a cancer drug in a humorous light, or for a luxury brand to come across as an “Everyman” archetype. Knowing and understanding your brand DNA & values can help you answer questions like, should my brand post about a specific current event on social media? You may feel a personal connection to an event, but it may not align with your brand’s DNA. So pause and think, what would my brand do? (WWMBD), sort of like “WWJD” for your brand.

In a nutshell, while a snazzy logo alone may initially catch a viewer’s eye,  if you’re looking to build a faithful audience that sticks around, you’ll need a little more substance. Whether you are looking to launch a new brand or thinking of revising an established one, partnering with a knowledgable tribe that speaks the language of Brand DNA is a good place to start. If you’re interested in a Brand Audit, DNA session or simply have questions about the process, reach out— building brands is our passion and pleasure!

Feeling inspired yet? Keep an eye out on our portfolio to see how we’re implementing these trends into our work here at Tribu!

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