What does your brand stand for? What is your mission? How do you add value? That all might sound great from your perspective, but what about us as your customers? How does the brand make us feel…do I like it? Does it include or exclude me? Can I relate to it?
It’s almost as if we were talking about a person. And like people, brands can be said to have a personality. A brand’s personality can have a major impact on the success of the company. Get it wrong and people will be averse to doing business with you; get it right, and not only can it put you ahead of your competition, it can also help keep you there.
Apple has a personality. Google has a personality. Nike has a personality. McDonald’s has one. Their brand personalities are so strong and unique that they have become references, not just for similar companies, but for specific attitudes, styles and even philosophies. Investing in or endorsing their products is also an expression of your own personality, by association. It makes people feel proud to say, “I like this company”.
So, let’s jump in with a few key things to consider when trying to establish your business’s ‘brand personality’ and how to make it effective at growing your reputation, customer base and ultimately revenue:
Knowing who you’re talking to
Absolutely essential in creating the right brand personality is: understanding your audience. In order to know what will resonate with and attract them, you need to know them. Who is your customer or client? Where do they live? Where do they work? How old are they? What are their interests? Most importantly, what are their values? Are they conservative people? Are they disruptors? Where do they go out? Where do they go on holiday? What do they read? All these questions and more need to be asked until you are able to paint a picture of the kind of person you’re selling to.
Knowing where you add value
Once you’ve established who your audience is, you have to establish what they need, so that you can talk to them about it. With regard to the product or service you provide, ask yourself, what really frustrates or worries your customers? What stresses them out? What keeps them up at night? This is often referred to as customer “pain points”. Understanding your customer (or client’s) pain points helps you to understand where you can add value. Once you’ve got that, you’ll know what you need to be saying, and more importantly why you need to be saying it. This is your brand ‘message’ and is the basis of its personality.
Choosing your tone of voice
Once you’ve decided who your customers are and what you need to say to them, you need to think about how to say it to them. This is your “tone of voice”. Your brand tone of voice needs to take into consideration your customers, your industry and what you’re offering, as we’ve covered above. It could be modern or traditional, progressive or conservative, fun or serious, young or mature, professional or irreverent. And an important point to note: just because everyone else in your industry sounds one way, doesn’t mean you can’t be disruptive and sound another way – that could play a major factor in distinguishing yourself from the competition!
Choosing your signature look
Going back to who your audience is, and your message, have you thought about what colours, fonts and designs are going to represent your brand? What about your logo? Your sector or industry will play a part here, just like choosing a tone of voice. For instance, the luxury sector uses a lot of elegant serif fonts (think all those curly tails on letters) and fonts that mix very thin strokes with weighty thick strokes on one side (think Vogue and Vanity Fair) – these are traditional fonts that convey heritage while at the same time elegance and sophistication. While serif fonts convey heritage, sans serif fonts are more modern and feel more contemporary. This kind of thinking extends to all aspects of visual brand design. Think about what your competitors are using – and whether you want to stand out or fit in.
A brand personality is a combination of many things. Principally, if you have a clear understanding of who your customers are and how you add value for them, and you are able to choose a tone of voice and signature look that reflect both of these things, then you are almost there. Just remember, just like a personality, some people will like you, some people will dislike you – in the end, you can’t please everyone, so whatever you do, be yourself!