I work at the house that David Ogilvy built. There was a man who understood the value of personality. His signature is our logo. To this day, his photos appear in various “shrines” throughout the company. Like the one in the NYC office mezzanine. His visage sits tucked up above the cool, concrete floor meeting space. You could easily overlook it, but if you did you would miss a great snapshot of the man sitting in the Lotus position with flowers around his neck. That’s personality. No, not one more picture of our beloved leader. The permission and the culture to allow someone with a little time on their hands to “make” a funky picture of Mr. Brand and sneak it into the meeting space.

We spend an awful lot of time meticulously defining and fashioning “brand.” What do we want people to think about us? What is the promise our companies and products make to their publics? We talk about storytelling. We agonize over the visual experience of a brand, and so forth. All of this is valuable stuff. It drives business. But it’s not the same as personality. I don’t believe that personality can be manufactured. Look at the staff, I mean “cast” at Disney Parks. By the time you actually arrive at your hotel via the airport bus, you have been told to “have a magical day!” by no less that three people. That’s not personality although it may be on-brand. Don’t get me wrong, I pefer people to wish me a magical day over those who are silent or even hostile. But I lean towards brands that express their personality, that are more open and inviting, brands that do not dilute or hide their personality in the pursuit of broad appeal.

Personality has to come from somewhere organic. Sometimes it’s a founder or entrepreneur. Sometime its the customers. But I do believe it comes from people and not from a staged set of experiences. What can companies do to nurture personality? Well, thanks to Rohit, we have a solid guidebook. The biggest step is to embrace a culture that promotes employees to be human beings with customers (people being human to other people - what a concept!). Create a culture that encourages personality.

Here’s a great example from an airline. It happened to me last week. And it has nothing to do with Southwest Airlines.

Recently, I spoke at Ogilvy’s Verge event in Toronto. That’s where we host thought-leaders and innovators from our clients, ourse