If you want to win at content marketing, you need to create a compelling brand personality and deploy it across your various content platforms. While a compelling brand personality is an outgrowth of a similarly compelling brand identity, and while doing a deep dive into the brand identity process would be an equally fun post; today we're going to focus on how you can create a compelling brand personality.
A Quick Note On Terms
When we say Brand Identity, we're referring to the visual system and elements that make up the visual representation of the brand.
Brand Personality is a set of human characteristics—often expressed as Brand Attributes—associated with a brand and used consistently throughout the entire brand and/or consumer experience in order to better connect with its target audience.
We usually write brand attributes as adjectives, much in the same way that we might describe a friend or family member of ours.
...sure is cheerful. And those bright-colored blouses and ostentatious hats? Man, oh man, oh man. I tell you what, I'm not sure I've ever heard her not whistling or singing some old, happy show tune. Have you?
...is one slow-moving, unruffled gentleman these days. It's almost like he's immune to the omnipresent sound of Aunt Audra's singing, his barely bent over frame cutting a calm silhouette amidst the chaos and cacophony of any family gathering.
Keith and Kayla
...are always together, and are always engrossed by something on their phones as they stroll through Whole Foods. Separate engrossing things, mind you. On their respective phones. Oh, they are very connected people all right, but not in the traditional sense.
That One Family
...down the street. You know the one. They're a little loud, but they're having a lot of fun. Laughing, smiling, funny as heck when you overhear them. The youngest is usually wearing something...colorful. The sidewalk art? Always colorful, never inside the lines.
Did you start to get an image of those people above? Think about brands like that.
Know any cheerful, bright brands that you could imagine pumping out a show tune along with their commercial? I do.
Now tell me, can't you hear Auntie Audra explaining (and not quietly, either) why she uses Tide? And how it gets out just thetoughest stains!
If anyone out of the above group would need stain remover, who would it be?
Yep. The family down the street. Thing is, they'd be more likely to just give you the shirt off their back, happy-go-lucky as they are.
Hopefully, you're starting to see how with a little effort you can be well on your way to putting some adjectives and attributes around your brand's personality. Now let's get to some basic steps you can take to create a compelling brand personality!
1. CREATE A COMPELLING BRAND PERSONALITY BY UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT BRAND
As the great philosopher Socrates is credited with saying, "Know thyself." Organizational and/or brand self-awareness isn't always easy, but it's an important first step here.
There's a process we go through with our clients, but that's a little involved for a blog post, so let's try something a little more like this.
If your brand were a person, how would you and/or others describe it, based on the interactions you and/or others have had with it? What adjectives and synonyms do you suspect would begin to emerge?
Jot them down.
2. CREATE A COMPELLING BRAND PERSONALITY BY DESCRIBING THE ASPIRATIONAL BRAND PERSONALITY IN 3-5 WORDS
Yep. That's it. Three to five words. We call those brand attributes.
Say we go with cheerful, rugged, and aspiring.
Bridge The Gap
After delineating both the current state and the aspirational state, we have an important step to take.
We need to decide if there are any brand gaps between current state brand attributes (those we discovered in the previous Understanding-The-Brand step above) and the aspirational brand attributes we just created.
If this were another post—and certainly if we were working together—we'd work through what bridging that gap looks like, but for the sake of time and space, let's scoot on to the next step here.
3. NEXT, FURTHER DEFINE THOSE BRAND ATTRIBUTES
The aforementioned cheerful, rugged, and aspiring would break down like this:
Cheerful: full of good spirits, merry Synonyms for Cheerful: bright, cheery, chipper, gladsome, sunny, upbeat, winsome
Rugged: strongly built or constituted, robust; rough and strong in character; rough, uneven surface; showing facial signs of strength Synonyms for Rugged: hardened, hardy, stout, strong, sturdy, tough, vigorous
Aspiring: desiring and working to achieve a particular goal; having aspirations to attain a specified profession, position, etc. Synonyms for Aspiring: ambitious, go-getting, hard-driving, pushing
It's important to do this because it helps us understand what those brand attributes will start feeling like when they're being used every day.
4. CREATE A BRAND PERSONALITY STYLE GUIDE
You'll want to build out a style guide with your brand personality, attributes, and then how-tos with examples.
For example, your more typical financial institutions might have something that sounded more like these two examples:
Financial Institution 1
Open a Bank of Wherever account and enjoy tools, benefits, and rewards to help you manage your money — no matter what the future holds.
Or...Financial Institution 2, which is a little more casual, with a touch of humor.
A checking account that gives you more. We reward you for banking with us, not the other way around.
Fees, a short story. You shouldn't be nickel and dimed for using your own money.
You could notice a slight difference in the second one, right? OK, great.
Now, what if we tried something with even a more distinct brand personality? In the next example, we're going to be pretty intentional, and you're going to be able to see how just adding a unique brand personality to the copy can make even a couple sentences about a checking account reflect something about a brand's overall flavor. Check it out below.
Imagine the following as part of a Brand Style Guide. It would be something of a "Here's What Our Brand Personality Sounds Like" section, complete with examples like this...
This is how we don’t sound:
Leave your checking account worries behind with great benefits and flexibility.
It’s all about the freebies.
This no-hassle, no-cost checking account offers great benefits and flexibility, perfect for Members of all ages.
This is how we do sound:
Paying for a checking account stinks. We get it. That’s why we offer a free checking account with no minimum balance required and no monthly service charges. Don’t bother coming into the branch, just open one up while you’re on the couch, on the beach or in the bathroom. (We don’t need to know the details.)
You might be thinking...
"Yeah, but I don't think we can do that." That's ok. That's why we're here! We can help you — just like we have so many other clients — develop your own, unique brand personality. We use a unique process, often beginning with an assessment of your current brand.
5. COMMUNICATE YOUR BRAND PERSONALITY CLEARLY TO ALL TEAM MEMBERS
Do this regularly, and do this in different ways.
Start with brand training, and be sure that training contains an element of what it means to be a brand advocate on social media. Provide examples of what the brand personality is and isn't, and if you want to keep the team engaged, try to have a little fun along the way.
6. USE THE BRAND PERSONALITY CONSISTENTLY
In order for a brand personality to do what you want it to do, and in order for it to help your content marketing be successful; it needs to be used consistently. Think of it like you would with getting to know and growing increasingly familiar with a person.
You wouldn't expect to get to know someone you interacted with once a month for a few seconds. The same is true with a brand.
[bctt tweet="Using a brand personality consistently is a key tactic if you expect that brand personality to be an effective component of your content marketing success. #brandstrategy #contentmarketing " username="mattmonge"]
7. CREATE A COMPELLING BRAND PERSONALITY BY MAKING IT HUMAN
Back at the beginning of this post, we defined a brand personality as "a set of human characteristics—often expressed as brand attributes—associated with a brand and used consistently throughout the entire brand and/or consumer experience in order to better connect with its target audience."
Viewed in its entirety, that definition lends critical context to the role of brand personality in content marketing. Take another look.
What a great brand personality—which is a set of human characteristics associated with a brand—is going to do is this: it's going to help create a connection between a brand and a target audience, which of course is a group of—yep—humans.