Now we have our character archetype. We have about six to eight words that are adjectives that describe the character or the personality and tonality of our brand. What we’re going to do now is called brand edges. 

Brand edges dimensionalize each of these personality and tonality words that we just came up with. It’s really useful, especially when writing copy for our brand, to be able to refer to this to show, “Okay, I’m leaning in too strongly on this word or I’m not emphasizing this aspect of my personality enough.” Take your three or four personality descriptors and your three or four tonality descriptors and for each one, write a word to the left that’s the same idea, but not quite as strong as you mean, and then a word to the right that’s the same idea but more strong than you mean.

For example, if I had chosen for my personality word “noble,” I might put to the left of that, as not strong enough, the word “moral” or “honest.” Our personality is more than just moral or honest; it’s noble. To the right of noble, I might put “altruistic” or “self-righteous” to show that that’s going too far. Noble is just right. 

Similarly for tonality, say I had chosen the word “friendly” to describe our tonality. I might choose as my not strong enough word the word “approachable.” We’re friendly. We’re not just approachable, we’re friendly. I might choose my word for being too far as “chummy” because we’re friendly, but we’re not going to be chummy with you. Friendly is just right. 

Go ahead and do that now for all of your words. This is a place where I find the thesaurus really useful to give you some ideas for the shades of meaning for words that mean similar things.

One reason that defining your brand’s edges is so useful is that it further likens your brand to a real person rather than a caricature of a person. People are nuanced. Some people who are friendly are downright chummy – friendly in an overt and perhaps even loud way. Other friendly people are more quietly so. By defining your brand’s edges, you give texture and nuance to your personality and tonality so that you’re not coming across as a caricature or a cliché – which your customer is less likely to bond with.

The other reason brand edges are so useful is very pragmatic. It empowers your teams to express your brand consistently without your intervening to explain. It’s a tool for pushing decision-making away from you, so that others can voice the brand. When you’re asking people on various teams, both internal and external, to bring your brand to life, it’s easier for each of those people representing your brand to grasp and express your brand’s character if you add some dimension to it.

It becomes a tool for them to use to evaluate their own speaking and writing. They know they’re going for friendly but not chummy. So, by claiming friendly but not chummy, they’re more equipped to know that nuance and bring it to life accordingly.