Everyone likes to play the word association game. For example, if I say “dog,” you might say “cat” or “poodle” or “Fido.” If I say “monkey,” you might say “banana” or “chimp” or “primate.”

So let’s start this week’s blog by playing what I call the “Brand Association” game. I’ll mention a top brand below and you take note of what comes to mind.

Here goes:

  • Apple
  • Starbucks
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Coca Cola
  • Ikea
  • McDonalds

Now think about the words that came to mind as you read the names of these well-known brands. When you read Apple did you think about “computers” or “innovation” or “Steve Jobs”?

When you read Starbucks, did your mind associate it with the word “latte” or “barista” or “coffee” or “pricey”?

And what of Facebook, did you brain jump immediately to something like “connections” or “share” or “like” or did it associate with a more timely topic concerning Facebook, such as “privacy” or did you just think, “Zuck”?

What’s fun about the word/brand association game is there are no right or wrong answers. The fun is in seeing what words come up, how they’re connected, and the responses you get from others when you defend the connection/association (because, quite frankly, we’re not all wired the same and some “associations” are clearer than others). Word association games have even been used to test personalities, to test new product names, to serve as a learning aid or brainstorming aid, or to help build psychological profiles.

The Name of The Brand

So you might be wondering, “What does all this have to do with branding?”

It’s simple, really, companies want their brands to occupy a certain place in your heart and your mind. When you hear a particular brand’s name, or see it’s logo or product, that brand wants you to feel, think, and/or react a certain way.

Whether you’re an individual or large corporation, your brand is essentially the culmination of the promises you make, the ones you deliver, and the perception of what you or your business stands for and how you connect with your audience emotionally.

  • Are you stuffy and corporate, or are you fresh and fun?
  • Are you socially responsible?
  • Do you pay it forward?
  • Do you come across as “one of the people” or do you seem to be talking down from on high all the time?

In other words, does your brand have personality—and is it a personality your target audience can relate to . . . or wants to?

Your Brand Personality

According to Investopedia, brand personality is “a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name . . . something to which the consumer can relate” and something brands can build equity in by demonstrating “a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment enjoys.”


They define 5 main types of brand personalities: excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication. The idea is that target audiences are more likely to purchase a brand if they perceive its “personality” is similar to their own.

While a “sophisticated” brand might come across as “elegant” to its target audience, the same brand might show up as “pretentious” in the hearts and minds of others. Likewise, an “exciting” brand might exude a youthful, energetic personality that’s likely to be attractive to younger audiences, while an older crowd might relate more closely to a brand that projects competence.

Again, there is no right or wrong brand personality so long as the personality your brand conveys is authentic and resonates with your target audience.

What words do you think consumers associate with your brand? What do they see in their mind’s eyes or feel in their hearts when they hear your company name or see your logo?

Share your thoughts and your “brand associations” here.

Take the Next Step

Let Barrel O’ Monkeyz provide a free assessment of your current website and/or inbound marketing strategy to help you answer the question, “Is my brand set-up for success?”

You can also check out Barrel O’Monkeyz white papers on a range of topics, from inbound marketing and website development, to digital marketing, brand development, and design. Each white paper is full of ideas and steps you need to take to turn your ideas into reality.