Book Review Personality Not Included

Category: Marketing – Branding

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back by Rohit Bhargava for free at a BlogHer party at Guy Kawasaki’s house over the summer. I then had the pleasure of meeting Rohit and Blog World Expo and CES.  Great Book!  Definitely worth reading.

Rating (on the 5 * scale)

Overall: *****5 READ IT

Readability: *****5

Writing Style: *****5

Useful: ****4

Interesting: ****4


Personality Not Included is a book about how brands can attain or regain personality (which seems like a Web 2.0 version of brand character or brand equity). As with much of *new* marketing the concept isn’t breakthrough (people like brands that have strong clear personalities errrr equity) but the ideas and concepts on how to build personality are, especially in an era where social media and world of mouth are hot topics.

The book is more focused on larger organizations and established brands (the sub-title is “Why companies lose their authenticity and how great brands get it back”), but many of the concepts can apply to smaller organizations as well.

Definition: personality is “the unique, authentic, and talkable soul of your brand that people can get passionate about” and is what moves people from passive consumers to active, passionate brand enthusiasts.


The theory chapters are great and get you thinking about how much personality your brand has, how “accidental spokespeople” are shaping your brand, how to define your organizations personality, building an organization story that inspires and finding opportunities where you can improve your personality.

Key Concepts:

  • “Personality Moments” opportunities for your brand personality to shine – often when least expected.


  • Chapter 1 – Organizations lose their personality with layers, advertising, the need for consistency, focusing on policies over logic and prioritizing risk management. This makes them ordinary.
  • Chapter 2 – The “accidental spokesperson” – people who become the spokespeople for your brand. There are 5 – The Founder, The Character, The Authority, The Celebrity and The Enthusiast. Find them and leverage them.
  • Chapter 3 – How to Define Your Organizations Personality – Rohit introduces the UAT tool – Unique -> Authentic -> Talkable = Personality!
    • How to be Unique: 1) Find the uncontested space, 2) Position yourself, 3) Create a twist, 4) Think outside your region
    • How to be Authentic: 1) Define a credible heritage, 2) Demonstrate passion and belief, 3) Foster individuals instead of people, 4) Have motives beyond profit
    • How to be Talkable: 1) Offer something of value that is limited, 2) Have a hook that is sharable, 3) Get out of the way
  • Chapter 4 – Interesting, useful and inspirational! How to craft a backstory that people care about using the techniques of Hollywood screen-writers. The 5 key elements to a backstory – Characters, Challenge, Vision, Conflict and Triumph. This chapter is a must read.
  • Chapter 5 – Getting your organization to embrace personality. Not my favorite… it focuses on how to create organizational change (see the bad below).
  • Chapter 6 – Finding and using personality moments is a great chapter; thought provoking and full of great examples. 2 key concepts that I liked here: 1) Marketing should focus beyond getting the initial sale and 2) Find the moments when you can best sell and represent your personality.


The second section has techniques and guides & tools.

Techniques – 10 techniques are presented for how to bring your personality to life with different types of marketing. I could list them, but you really have to read the section (it is fairly short) to actually understand them.

Guides and Tools – The last section has useful guides and tools that relate back to the various chapters. Great as a quick reference to implement something that was discussed.

The Good

  • Great writing style – easy to read, includes visual aides, and (not surprisingly) seeping with personality
  • The tools section at the end just plain rocks. It will help you to actually use the concepts presented in the book, and is a great quick reference for those looking to implement.
  • Lots (over 100) of examples, which are interesting and inspire creative thinking.
  • Theory and action – the book is clearly divided into the theory section and the action section – understand WHY it matters and HOW to implement it.

The Bad

  • Chapter 5. The Chapter is essentially about inciting organizational change and discusses techniques for encouraging change. I would imagine that a small % of the people reading this book 1) work in a large enough organization for this to be an issue and 2) are in a position to actually incite a change using these techniques. Plus, there are many thorough in-depth books written about this subject. Unless you are in one of those positions, I would probably skip this section – it reminded me of a college textbook about leading organizational change.

Have you read the book?  Thoughts?


  1. I have to say that I read Rohit’s book on the flight home from SXSW and I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of information that he produced. Personality Not Included has tons of content that can be implemented instantly and I know it will help me in my own marketing practices.

    The main points I got were being transparent, unique, and remarkable (or talkable). I think the more we focus on expressing our unique personalities, focus on being personal with people, and have a killer product/service, then the rest will take care of itself. Great job on the book Rohit, and Krista you did am awesome job recapping his main points.


  2. Hi Lewis

    It is a gerat book and perfect for a plane ride home 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    It was great hanging with you at sxsw – we need to get together in Ohio sometime 🙂

    – Krista

  3. Just getting into Rohits work recently. I feel ethical business, transparency and expressing uniqueness are expressed well. They make you remarkable. Its straight out of Cluetrain but we have gone into personal branding era and soul brands are 21st Century cool.


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