Make your brand human
If you want to create emotional connections with your customers, start building your brand personality now.
Do you struggle to attract clients?
You’ve done the work. Researched your products and services and pricing.
And worked out the benefits of buying from your brand.
So why do your offers get overlooked again and again?
What is going wrong?
Everything looks good on paper, so why are your sales under-performing?
Have you put any effort into clarifying who your brand is and what it stands for?
Yes, that’s right.
When you start thinking about your brand as if it is a person, you’ll unlock one of the key strategic elements in brand building. And more than that, you’ll lay the foundations for building your powerful brand.
Who is your brand?
I learned this ‘secret’ when I worked in the marketing team on a big brand – Dulux paint – in a ‘one brand’ company.
Everyone in the business was committed to the success of the brand and to supporting every new product launch and every piece of marketing collateral.
These people had a well-developed sense of the brand image – from the style of the props in a room set photo to the music used in a TV ad. It had to be ‘Duluxy’. Or we were letting the brand down.
And when I was promoted to marketing manager, it was my job to be a brand guardian.
This meant my work on new products and services stayed true to the brand heritage and values, whilst pioneering it’s evolution, so it stayed ahead of competitors and stayed top of the list of brands that customers wanted.
This is why the big brands invest time and energy in developing their brand image, voice and personality.
It makes sound business sense because brand personality differentiates their business, attracts customers and develops deeper relationships with them.
So, let’s help you develop an engaging brand personality for your business too!
I’ll cover three items:
- Define what I mean by brand personality
- Clarify why your brand personality matters
- Give you a short checklist to follow
Defining brand personality
What is ‘Personality’?
Let’s start by looking at how personality is defined in The New Oxford Dictionary:
‘The combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character’
and ‘Qualities that make someone interesting or popular’
This definition of personality is a great start point for your brand thinking.
If you imagine your brand is a person, you will want your brand personality to be ‘distinctive‘, so your brand stands out.
And it will be a bonus when your brand is seen as ‘interesting‘, so it piques curiosity – and ‘popular’, so lots of people want to buy it.
What is Brand Personality?
Let’s now take a look at a definition of Brand Personality. I find this summary from Steve Harvey inspiring:
‘A brand personality is the magic that brings your brand to life.
It’s a vehicle that helps to communicate what makes your company different, in a way that your customers can relate, and connect to.
At the same time, it’s also a great source of differentiation, as it’s very difficult for anyone to copy a personality.’
My take on brand personality
To bring out the human dimensions of your brand, start by describing your brand as if it is a person.
I like to break this down into three aspects, which I find easy to remember and easy to relate to ‘being human’:
- Behaviour – how the brand acts – this is rooted in your brand purpose and brand values
- Style – the brand ‘aesthetic’ – how you use your logo, colours, fonts and imagery in a way that is distinctive to your brand
- Voice – how the brand speaks – the type of words you use ( your vocabulary) and your unique tone of voice
Why your brand personality matters
I’m a ‘power of three’ person, so here are three reasons why your brand personality matters
1. KNOW. LIKE. TRUST.
If you ever go to networking meetings you’ll be aware of the ‘know, like’ trust formula for getting business.
The explanation is that first people have to get to know you, who you are and what drives you.
Next, they’ll get to like you, because you’re a person they enjoy being with.
And then, it’s the holy grail.
If you’ve behaved with integrity and consistency, you will have earned their trust.
It’s so much easier to sell to people who trust you and your business.
And of course, they will prefer to buy from someone they like, especially someone they like a lot.
When you manage and market your brand as if it is human, your business can access ‘know, like, trust’ in exactly the same way:
- Know – based on awareness of your business
- Like – based on the experience of interacting with your business
- Trust – based on what others say about your business and what they can see of your behaviour towards clients
Remember, your potential customers, being human, will prefer to buy from your brand if they like it more than your competitors
This is one of the peculiarities of people.
We can’t help ourselves.
We like to relate to and emotionally connect with others – even when they aren’t human.
Your brand can benefit from this human idiosyncracy.
The New Oxford Dictionary explains anthropomorphism as ‘the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to a god, animal or object’.
I’d suggest they could also add ‘brand’ to the list of ‘god, animal or object’.
Think about it.
How many examples do you know of people treating objects like people.
Here are just a few:
- The tradition of naming ships, trains and planes
- Giving our pets names – often human names
- And some people, like me, name their cars
A recent survey in the UK by the charity Cats Protection showed that the top ten names for cats were all names also used for humans. Poppy is the favourite name for a female cat.
3. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Not many people are aware that developing a strong and recognisable brand personality can differentiate your business and also build competitive advantage.
It all comes back to being human.
You probably already know that buying decisions are based on emotion, more than reason.
As Donald Calne put it so well: ‘The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions’
Hence if your clients can connect emotionally to your brand (as if it is a person) it will help grow your business ‘know, like, trust’ factor – and lead to more sales.
When all things are equal with your competitors – product, service, price, availability – greater affinity with your brand can switch the sale to your business.
The deeper your brand affinity with customers, the greater your opportunity to build brand loyalty and gain repeat purchases.
Checklist for giving your brand personality a boost
Start with an audit
This will identify the gap between where you are now and where you want to get to.
Here are some items to consider on your checklist:
Is your brand purpose still relevant for your business and target audience?
- Has anything changed in your market sector – for example, is sustainability a bigger issue now?
- Have your key competitors gained market share or added new services or products?
- Do you still serve the same target audience? Have their needs and wants changed?
- Draft your answer to this question, ‘Apart from making money, why does your business exist?’
- Where do you communicate your brand purpose? Is it on the website? On social media profiles? In brochures or literature? In recruitment ads?
- What changes do you want to make and where?
Are your brand values in need of an update?
- Your brand values are the ‘moral compass’ of the business.
- They help determine what your brand stands for and what it stands against.
- There is qualitative and quantitative evidence that customers prefer to buy from brands whose values they feel aligned with.
- Check that your values are specific, actionable, in tune with the times and aligned with customer values.
- Where do you communicate them? On your website? In the office?
- Is everyone in the business in tune with these brand values?
Describe your brand as if it is a person
- List the words that capture who your brand is. Try to narrow these words down to a shortlist you can remember and use daily.
- Then consider, how do your brand personality words compare with your key competitors?
- Do your brand words feel authentic and distinctive?
Check the imagery and colours you use in communications
- Are the images aligned with the words on your list?
- If not, what changes could you make?
- Is there a consistent ‘look and feel’ to your selected images?
- How do you use your brand colours?
Assess your brand voice and tone
- It can take a while to find your voice, so be kind to yourself when you review your writing.
- Assess your tone of voice – does it match the words you’ve used to describe your brand personality?
- Remember, your voice will evolve over time.
I hope you’ve found this summary of brand personality useful.
It can take a while to get clear on who your brand is and what it stands for, so, if you need some help with your brand personality audit, send me a quick note here
I’d love to help you develop your distinctive, aligned brand personality that will accelerate your business growth.