Purpose: This paper aims to critique human personality as a theory underpinning brand personality and to propose instead a theory from human perception, and by doing so, to identify universally relevant dimensions. Design/methodology/approach: A review of published measures of brand personality, a re-analysis of two existing data bases and the analysis of one new database are used to argue and test for the dimensions derived from perception theory. Findings: Existing work on brand personality suggests 16 separate dimensions for the construct, but some appear common to most measures. When non-orthogonal rotation is used to re-analyse existing trait data on brand personality, three dimensions derived from signalling and associated theory can emerge: sincerity (e.g. warm, friendly and agreeable), competence (e.g. competent, effective and efficient) and status (e.g. prestigious, elegant and sophisticated). The first two are common to most measures, status is not. Research limitations/implications: Three dimensions derived from signalling and associated theory are proposed as generic, relevant to all contexts and cultures. They can be supplemented by context specific dimensions. Practical implications: Measures of these three dimensions should be included in all measures of brand personality. Originality/value: Prior work on brand personality has focussed on identifying apparently new dimensions for the construct. While most work is not theoretically based, some have argued for the relevance of human personality. That model is challenged, and an alternative approach to both theory and analysis is proposed and successfully tested.