Every brand wants staying power.
The brands that stay with us are the ones that resonate, that we connect to.
And when you are trying to grow your own business defining that brand is a vital piece. You have to know who your potential audience is, what they want from you, and how to stay true to your self and purpose in the process.
Building your brand personality isn’t an arduous process, but it can be confusing, especially if you don’t know how to be specific and purposeful in your branding.
And without a consistent, strong brand personality, you will struggle to gain traction with your intended audience. Remember, most businesses fail within the first three years. A huge part of the problem is unclear or weak branding. If clients and customers don’t resonate with you or recognise you, they are unlikely to buy what you are selling, literally or theoretically.
So let’s take a look at how to build a personality into your brand that draws in clients and keeps them for the long haul.
What is Brand Personality?
Businesses are people, at least according to the American Supreme Court.
So it follows that, like people, each has its own personality. The most successful companies hook you with their personality the moment you walk through the doors (or click over to the website, or read a tweet). Your personality is your voice, and it is vital.
Think about it. You could probably picture any of these brands as literal people.
Lush is natural and cosy, like your best girlfriend when she has you over to her flat for dinner.
Rolls-Royce is posh and sophisticated, a clean-cut man of mystery, with a model on each arm.
Apple is hipster and cutting edge. Your techie brother-in-law who wears a beanie and a scarf but always has the latest tech.
It isn’t hard to picture these corporations as literal human beings. And that’s the point. Consumers today, especially Millenials and Gen Z, aren’t interested in interacting with a faceless conglomerate. They want to build relationships and trust. And that starts with branding.
Good branding tells your customers who you are and what kind of experience they will have with you before they do business. It also makes your customers feel like they are interacting with someone rather than something.
Your brand personality is what makes you stand out, helps your audience remember your name and keep coming back.
Building Branding: Five Questions
When you get ready to build your branding, there are five questions you should ask yourself.
- Who is my audience?
- How would friends describe YOU?
- What are your core values?
- Can you identify your specialty within your industry?
- What is your company mission?
Too often, brand building wants you to focus initially on “how do you want your customers to feel when they think of your company?” or other questions in that same vein. And while that is important, the answers are often nebulous. We all want our clients to feel that they can trust us, and that we have given them a good experience.
Rather, the above questions focus on tangible things about your own company. They give you a starting line from which to begin building brand personality.
Brainstorming a Strong Brand Personality
Let’s take a look at those questions again, and dig deep into how they can help you build that brand.
Who is My Audience?
This is Business 101. Knowing your audience, your potential clientele, helps you build everything from products to social media presence.
Different audiences want different things from businesses. And while we would never suggest you fall into the trap of stereotyping, knowing demographic information about your audience can give you insight into how they relate to you.
Look at age, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity. Be careful if you are coming to your clients from outside themselves. That is if you are building a business for women as a man, speaking to women about your branding is going to be helpful. Put shoes to the ground and get to know your audience.
This is going to give you the basic insight you need to begin building.
How Do Friends Describe Me?
You are not your business and your business is not you. But there will always be bleed over.
Who you are as a person will help give you a framework as you decide who your business is going to be. It lends authenticity to the process, which is vital in a world where consumers can smell inauthentic motives a mile off.
BY thinking through how people would describe you as an individual, you can start thinking about which pieces of yourself you want to make up your brand personality, and which parts are better left at home.
What Are My Core Values?
Again, your core values inform your company’s core values. Your ethics, your standards, and your morality all inform how you will do business.
Core values make up a huge part of brand personality, and yet they are not taken as seriously as they could be by many companies. If a company is not a non-profit or religious organisation, they may not see the point in clearly defining core values.
But our values inform our business practices and how we relate to audiences. Customers want to know their values match yours. It helps build trust and loyalty.
What Is My Speciality?
Everyone specialises. You don’t do photography. You do wedding photography. Or senior photography.
You don’t do real estate. You specialise in commercial real estate for cheese moguls.
And so on.
Even if you occasionally branch into other areas, knowing your specialities and where you shine will help build that brand.
What is My Mission?
Why are you here? Why are you doing what you are doing? What is the point?
We aren’t trying to send you into an existential crisis, but we do want you to think about the reason for going into business in the first place.
Emotional Branding That Resonates
So now that you hopefully have a rough outline, let’s move into the next step: emotions.
We all like to think of ourselves as logical creatures, unswayed by silly things like emotion. But if that was true, no one would buy anything.
Tapping into the emotional centres of your audience helps them build a bond with you and see your business as something (someone) they can trust.
This is where we throw in that question “How do you want your customers to feel?”
But now, you can take your answers from step one and look at how they speak to this question.
You want your clients to feel you are trustworthy. That’s lovely. How do your core values, mission, and personality help build that trust?
How to Start Building
Ok, so now you have the outline, and maybe a few scribbles on emotions.
Chances are, somewhere in that mish-mash stream of consciousness, there are the words that will make up your brand personality.
Start picking out the adjectives and grouping them together. Now get rid of words that are buildable. This includes things like “trustworthy”. Trust is earned, not a given at first impression.
Remember, you are building a memorable first impression. The things that will jump out the moment your audience interacts with you.
Still, need help? Here are some words that can give you inspiration.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it may give you a place to start.
Stick to three key phrases to start building your personality. Too few, and there is no flexibility or room to maneuver. Too many, and the message gets muddled.
Keys to Succesful Branding
Once you have your three key phrases, you can look into implementation.
How will you incorporate your brand personality into your design? Your social media? Your packaging?
Every part of your business should be consistent with your brand personality. Take a look at colour theory, at fonts, and at social media tone. Nothing is too small a consideration for your brand.
Once you’ve decided on an execution plan, stick with it. Branding IS changeable later, but consistency in the early days is a key element of building that trust and loyalty.
Think about it this way. If you started reading a book, and it switched suddenly from a mystery to science fiction, then to self-help, then to literary fiction, with the tone changing accordingly, you wouldn’t read it for very long. People like to know what to expect from the brands they love. Consistency is key.
Success with Branding
Successful brand personality planning starts with knowing your business and your audience. Taking who you want to be in your market and turning that into a workable platform from which to reach your clientele.
Once you’ve built your brand personality, you’ve cleared the first hurdle toward business success, and are well on your way to earning that brand loyalty and client relationship that business craves.
For more on building and marketing your business, take a look here. We would love to help.