Mars Curiosity: NASA Brand Building with Personality

In Brand Promotion by DistilityLeave a Comment

While the Mars rover Curiosity has successfully landed on the Red Planet, it has also blasted off in social media. In the past few days, @MarsCuriosity has rocketed on Twitter from a respectable 140,000 followers to 850,000 followers. We admit that we began following @MarsCuriosity on August 3, 2012, and only after we saw the fascinating NASA Grand Entrance video about the landing and the dramatically named “7 minutes of terror”, narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Mars Curiosity Personality Connects with its Audience

Beyond the accomplishments of the actual Mars Curiosity mission (which are tremendous), the Mars Curiosity social media campaign is an excellent example of using social media to connect with an audience. From a brand building point of view, the Mars Curiosity social media campaign underscores two main branding fundamentals:

  • the importance of using a brand promise (high-level benefit) as a guiding principle in your communications, and
  • the effectiveness of branding with personality.

The Mars Curiosity campaign is rooted in the NASA promise of the human quest for knowledge and understanding of the unknown. As set out on the  NASA website, the NASA vision is “To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.”

However, above and beyond sharing its discoveries on Mars, the campaign has been particularly engaging because of the rover’s personality. The Mars Curiosity rover is a mobile robotic spacecraft (about the size of a car), which is remotely controlled by NASA scientists and engineers from Earth. Instead of being given the traits of a cold machine, Mars Curiosity has been imbued with a curious, friendly, accessible and playful personality; it seems to have a lot more in common with a pet (or maybe R2D2) than a cold scientific machine. NASA is doing an excellent job of letting that personality shine through in the @MarsCuriosity Twitter posts, Mars Curiosity Facebook page and in how NASA communicates about the Mars Curiosity rover.

Creating a Successful Brand Communication Campaign

When the time comes for creating a brand communication campaign, it is important to ensure that your campaign embodies your brand strategy.  To do that, we recommend that you:

  1. ensure that you are clear on your brand strategy,
  2. are explicit in identifying, and deciding on, whether your brand promise, brand position, brand personality (or some combination of these brand strategy elements) will drive the campaign,
  3. ensure your brand strategy is actually embodied in the final campaign.
  4. If you will be imbuing your brand personality into the campaign, then consider how to embody the brand personality through writing style and tone, choice of imagery, composition of music, selection of colour palette and fonts. Consider how different each of these could be for a playful, cheeky brand versus a sophisticated, exclusive brand.

For more on using brand strategy to build your brand, please see our posts: How to use your Brand Strategy in your Brand Advertising.