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Spotlight on Personality

Spotlight on Personality

As discussed previously, this year, Difference was one of the most important metrics that set growing brands apart from declining brands. The question, then, is: How can brands be more Different?

One path to Difference, of course, lies in a brand’s functional distinctiveness: in other words, how innovative or unique its products are. But there is also a whole ecosystem of brand undertakings – from marketing, to store design, to online experience design, to customer service – that can serve to either enhance or undercut consumer perceptions about a brand’s products.

What’s more, this larger brand ecosystem can also serve to give a brand a unique “personality” or emotional resonance - which can serve to even further Differentiate a brand in consumers’ mind. Personality is especially important in sectors like banking, where it can be difficult to Differentiate oneself on a pure product level (everyone is more or less offering the same interest rates). But truth be told, all brands can benefit from developing a consistent, relatable, human-centric personality.

In the BrandZ™ data this year, three “personality” attributes have proven especially effective at driving brand value in the Netherlands. This year, growing brands were more likely than their peers to be seen as fun and creative – a kind of “Joker” archetype that, when sensitively deployed, can tap into people’s need for cheering up in these tough times. At the same time, growing brands were also more likely to embody Responsible traits like honesty and respect, as well as care for the environment and employees. Lastly, Dutch consumers value Reliability in brands as well as people; growing brands were likely than their peers to be seen as caring for their customers, offering a superior range of products, and being the best at what they do.

Fun and Creative

Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer has revealed that, uniquely among European nations, Dutch consumers are more open to brands acting in “Optimistic and Unconventional” ways, even amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This dovetails with a trend we’ve noticed over the past several years – Dutch consumers’ love for brands that emphasize fun, creativity, and playfulness.

These “Joker” brands often use quirky designs and creative activations to stand out in a competitive landscape: from brewer Bavaria’s ambush marketing schemes, to Hema’s colorful products, to Action’s always-unpredictable product assortment.

This year, the Netherlands’ growing and new brands ranked an average of nine points higher for BrandZ™ measures “Fun” than its declining and stable brands – and ranked an average of 11 points higher for “Creativity”:

One of the Netherlands’ greatest standard-bearers for the Joker archetype is the Jumbo, the country’s second-largest grocery chain. For Jumbo, it pays to be a clown: Jumbo’s brand value grew 9 percent in the latest BrandZ rankings; it also added 54 new stores from 2019 to 2020.

In its early days, Jumbo was seen as an undifferentiated competitor to category leader Albert Heijn. That changed when the brand hit on a winning marketing campaign featuring Dutch actor Frank Lammers as a funny family patriarch. At the same time, consumers began to catch on to the brand’s quirky approach to customer service – a collection of “Seven Certainties” that includes a promise to offer free groceries to shoppers if they’re forced to wait too long in a checkout line. Today, the brand is seen as Creative, Adventurous, and Rebellious. EspeciallyEspecially notable is the way Jumbo’s brand power (ability to drive repeat business) has soared over the last decade, from 145 in 2012, to 267 in 2019.

Jumbo Brand Power Index


Consumers want the same thing from their brand partners that they prioritize in their friends and life partners: a sense of Reliability. In part, brand Reliability is built on product superiority and dependability – but it also draws on more emotionally based notions that Reliable brands are ones that care for their customers, fit easily and sensitively into people’s lives, and gain positive word of mouth for consistently impressing the people around them. This years’ growing and new brands in the Dutch Top 30 scored consistently higher than stable and declining on these kinds of Reliable attributes:

In many ways, these components of Reliability are highly related to the way that brands can build perceptions of Trust – a vital, many-faceted brand trait that we examine at length in the next section of this report.  


Responsibility, too, is a “personality” trait that’s related to Brand Trust: ultimately, consumers are drawn to brands that project “human” attributes like conscientiousness, truthfulness, and compassion. This year’s Dutch brand value performance bears this out:

Another view into the ways Responsibility drives brand value can be found in BrandZBrandZ™’s Responsibility Index, which synthesizes views on how well brands relate to the environment, society, their employees, and the communities and companies that make up their supply chains. Each of the underlying elements of the Responsibility Index showsshows the same picture – that growing brands set themselves apart by dealing fairly and honorably with the world around them:

For those companies who want an even more detailed view into how to shore up their Responsibility, BrandZ™’s RepZ tool offers an even more thorough diagnostic on how brands perform across the many building blocks of Purpose. RepZ measures corporate reputation, a corporation being the parent of the product brand that consumers interact with. In some cases, corporation and brand are the same entity. More often they’re not. But their reputations always are interrelated – and consumers have become increasingly savvy at “following the money” to understand how brands exist withing large corporate ecosystems.