DNA and the nature/nurture of brands

Listening to an interview with Michael Peters on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, I once again heard an interviewer talk about the DNA of a brand.  This may be a useful shorthand, but is used sloppily to describe what a brand is fundamentally about… and this is not the DNA, but the brand personality.

If we consider this more carefully and follow the brand-as-person model, we can see that in people, our personality is derived from two components: our genetic make up (the nature – from the DNA) and the social impacts of our upbringing and development (the nurture). Psychologists may argue as to what degree these two components contribute to a person’s personality, but I would suggest that when we are talking of a brand personality, the ‘DNA’ (not to be confused with the brand history) is far less important than the nurture which represents a brand’s interaction with its audiences. It is the latter that shapes what we perceive as the brand personality.

I guess there is no point me fulminating or leading a one-man crusade on banning the use of the term ‘Brand DNA’ – but the concept of brand personality is a sound one and the idea of of their being an underlying, unchanging blueprint is unhelpful in understanding the dynamic, constantly changing nature of brands.

Okay, rant over.


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