How understanding your brand personality can help you engage with more customers more profitably
Your brand personality might be one of the most underutilised tools in your marketing toolbox. Simply put, brand personality describes how customers view your company and its products or services, helps them engage with you and plays an important role in their purchasing decisions. If your brand personality is aligned with the personalities of your target customers, you’ll be better able to engage them with personalised messaging that speaks directly to them – and gets them to buy from you more often. But how do you know what your brand personality is? And how do you use it to engage new customers?
Understanding Your Brand Personality
Understanding what makes your brand unique and how you want to be seen by others can be a convoluted process. And there are many techniques available for developing a brand’s personality, from one-on-one interviews to focus groups to surveys. But ultimately, much of defining your brand personality comes down to knowing who you are as a company and what kind of message—personal or professional—you want to communicate. Most importantly, it involves keeping that brand voice consistent across all forms of communication: in writing, on social media, in speech, etc.
This is easier said than done; each new employee brings a different perspective to your brand voice (not to mention their own unique personality and sense of humour). Understanding that every brand has its distinct personality helps keep communications flowing freely and authentically. So when deciding whether or not something is off-brand, ask yourself: Does it sound like me? Is it true? Can I stand behind everything we say? If so, move forward! If not, try again.
Identifying your brand’s personality gives you a better idea of how to find, attract, and connect with your target audience. Once you know what they want, you’ll be able to offer it in a way that maximises customer satisfaction. Keep in mind that, if people are going to refer other people to you, they need to have a sense of who you are as an organisation. This all starts with understanding who you are and making sure that people can relate to your values. It may feel strange at first, but knowing about your brand’s personality really does let you do business better.
To find out what type of brand personality is most effective in your sector, look at other brands similar to yours and try to understand their engagement strategies. If they’re doing a great job engaging with their followers, take notes on what you think makes them appealing. If not, try looking for brands that are about as different from yours as possible: For example, if your company is in a niche product category, pay attention to how mass-market brands interact with their audience. You’ll be able to learn much more by focusing on how two or three specific brands do things than trying to fit into one overarching style of engagement. Try breaking down each brand’s online communication strategy into these categories: authenticity, relatability and conversation.
You can identify which tactics work for your brand or niche because these decisions are easier when backed by data from an experiment or research conducted on similar brands in your industry. So get started by thinking about where you fall on Myers-Briggs’ 16 Personality Types: Are you logical or intuitive? Activating or reflecting? Judging or perceiving? Every single brand has its unique personality type — it’s about discovering yours. Then, take some time to answer questions such as: What kind of person would be interested in my product? What do I think is important about my company? How do we differ from every other company out there?
Brand personality is a concept that’s been around for a while. A brand personality is basically an aggregate of all the beliefs and emotions that surround a particular brand name. For example, if we’re talking about Apple, it’s pretty easy to determine its brand personality because it’s so clearly defined: It’s trendy, chic, funky, clean-cut and friendly. They don’t explicitly tell us that but it’s self-evident in everything they say and do. But what if we were talking about a lesser-known company? Brand personality becomes much harder to nail down when brands don’t have a clear marketing strategy behind them or aren’t surrounded by hype. To figure out how to characterise your own company (and thus how to market it), you need to understand what makes you different from everyone else.
Don’t fake it
For some brands, showing a sense of humour is an important element in attracting new customers and keeping existing ones happy. For others, it’s essential to show how serious you are about what you do. Whatever your brand’s personality type may be, remember that authentic engagement is still key: The most important thing for brands trying to show off their personalities isn’t whether or not they seem fun, but whether or not they seem genuine. After all, if they aren’t interested in connecting with their customers—well, then why should anyone bother connecting with them?
Give people what they want, not what you think they want
The best way to build a brand is to deliver on your company’s promise, both in words and actions. This means providing people with what they need, not just what they want. Your brand and its values will take care of themselves if you give people what they need. Put simply: Be true to your brand and its values. The rest will follow. And if it doesn’t, maybe time for a re-think
Understand your brand personality and you’ll be able to communicate in a way that resonates with your audience. Your brand personality should inform the way you act and communicate, whether it’s on social media or in an email newsletter. Creating content to match the image of a company is only half the battle: It needs to appeal to those who will read it. For example, if your brand’s personality is informal but energetic, don’t write like Shakespeare. Even if your subject matter does not necessarily reflect your brand’s persona, make sure how you deliver it matches what people expect from your brand. This consistency builds confidence, trust and loyalty. All elements—not just written content—need to reflect what people already know about you; they are all part of building credibility. That means when someone interacts with a brand they must get consistent information and messaging across every touchpoint—from physical stores to packaging, website design, logo creation, photography, the way you answer the phone, signage…you name it!
Ignore your critics
It’s OK to be different, ‘me too’ will just help you remain anonymous. If you are different or a business disruptor there will be critics and everyone is a ‘keyboard warrior’ with options to express. The best way to establish your brand personality is to ignore the brick-bats and the social media criticism. To put it another way, there’s absolutely no point in engaging with critics if you want your brand to succeed and reach its full potential. So don’t—and focus on your truth instead. Learning how to develop confidence is an integral part of growing a successful brand, but even if confidence isn’t one of your strong suits, it never hurts to try and fake it ‘til you make it.
Showcasing your brand personality on social media
Social media is a great way to showcase your brand’s personality, but it’s important to ensure that what you’re saying and doing online aligns with who you are. Social Media Management is a key marketing discipline now and not something you just ask someone who’s ‘good at Instagram’ in the office to get on with. To make sure your social media strategy and posts resonate, ask yourself these questions: does what I’m posting reflect my brand persona? Are my posts varied? Am I being consistent in voice and tone? If you answered no to any of these questions, it might be time to rethink how you interact on social media. Remember: consistency is key. The best way to understand how different people perceive your brand is by observing them as they use it.
Brand personality is not just ‘once and done’, just like people, brands develop and grow. It’s important that a review of your entire brand platform should be a key element of your strategic planning and, just like a fine wine, your personality may change and improve with age.
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