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Better Branding: The ‘Big Five’ Personality Traits

The key struggle for any brand is reaching its target audience. Understanding and communicating with your audience is the core of all creative and messaging endeavors.

In the era of data-driven marketing, significant emphasis was placed on demographics. It allowed companies to construct an image of their ideal customer so that by marketing to one “person,” you’re actually hitting a much larger number of people. But is it really ideal to target arbitrary shared characteristics like gender, ethnicity, and geography? Perhaps brands should focus on marketing to people rather than stereotypes.

The goals for marketers are the same now as they’ve always been: grab the attention of prospects, build relationships, convert interest into sales, and keep them interested after the sale. To accomplish these goals, brands must appeal to the right emotions and personality triggers, which means they must understand the audience’s personality beyond just demographics.

Understanding your audience is the same as understanding your neighbors, your friends, or your family. You wouldn’t assume to know what makes them tick just because you know their basic demographic information, would you? Of course not. “When you are inclined to build a meaningful relationship with someone,” says Ron Netanel, CEO and Founder of IDealogic®, “do you base it on monetary value, or on common interests and principles? Why should the Brand to Human® relationship be any different?”

To really resonate and align with your audience, it’s important to get to know them in the same way you would a friend or coworker. After all, that’s what a good brand is: a relationship between consumer and creator. And wouldn’t you know it, there is a widely accepted psychological theory of personality that can help build relationships.

The Five Factor Model, also known by the acronym O.C.E.A.N., seeks to categorize people not by their demographic information or shopping habits, but by five major personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

This article will give a brief overview of the so-called ‘Big Five’ personality traits and how they can be used in marketing to create better, more authentic brands that resonate with their audience on a deeper level.



Openness is a measure of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and a preference for novelty. Open individuals are more likely to prefer variety and spontaneity, new experiences, adventure and artistic interests. They often have vivid imaginations, and are prone to challenging authority.



Conscientiousness is the tendency to be organized, disciplined, and dutiful. Conscientious people often prefer planned activity to spontaneity, and those who score high in this category can be perceived as stubborn, obsessed, or inflexible, but they are often considered extremely reliable.



Extraversion categorizes people by their affinity toward sociability, assertiveness, and high energy. High scorers are often perceived as attention-seeking or overbearing, while those low in this category are more reserved and reflective which may come off as standoffish or self-absorbed.



Agreeableness is a predisposition toward compassion and cooperation. Agreeable people are typically trusting, helpful and even-keeled, though they are often perceived as naïve or passive. Those who score low in this category can be seen as overly competitive, confrontational, or untrustworthy.



Neuroticism is the inclination toward negative emotions. Anxiety, anger, and depression are common to those high in this category, and emotional instability often manifests with reactive, excitable, or insecure personalities.


Studying and understanding these personality traits can help brands and marketers to understand their target audience beyond simple demographics. Combining demographic information with a study of the O.C.E.A.N. traits can yield better, more human marketing efforts, so that the audience you want becomes the audience you reach.

Great brands are built on mutual relationships. Understanding your target audience beyond their capital value is imperative for creating a great brand. And understanding your target audience comes down to understanding people, not just demographics or stereotypes. Because of the emphasis on consumer choice and advocacy, it’s safe to say we’re moving away from the data-driven, demographics-focused era. We’ve moved beyond, into the Brand to Human® era.