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The essential brand persona: storytelling and branding

Stephen Herskovitz (Hammond Hill LLC, Acton, Massachusetts, USA)
Malcolm Crystal (Hammond Hill LLC, Acton, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 4 May 2010




In communicating their brands, businesses need to tell a compelling story that connects with its audiences on an emotional level. Every story requires a clearly understood central character with which people can identify and create a long‐lasting emotional bond: the brand persona. Without a strong brand persona, the brand narrative lacks a focus. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how to identify a brand persona that captures a brand's emotional story and builds long‐lasting value for a business.


This article defines branding and explores how to construct a story and persona that is relevant, important, differentiating, and motivating. It explores what makes a good story and a good brand persona, how to understand and connect to an audience's implicit needs. Importantly, the article discusses new learning in neurology and how to communicate so that a brand speaks in an integrative fashion to both right‐ and left‐brain thinking.


Companies that do not telling a compelling and consistent brand story that speak to both the rational and the emotional needs of audiences risk creating a shallow, short‐term “brand” that is easily destroyed by external factors. A strong brand story connects at a deep emotional level that is difficult to disengage. This brand story and the brand persona must be tended to, invested in, and go beyond “words” in order to ensure long‐lasting and real value.


Most brand work focuses on developing an understanding of explicit attitudes and developing messaging based on what people “say” they think. This article discusses a process by which implicit attitudes are explored in order to construct brand stories and personas that connect on deep, emotional levels.



Herskovitz, S. and Crystal, M. (2010), "The essential brand persona: storytelling and branding", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 21-28.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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