Come for the monetary gain; stay for the endless other benefits. That’s how the story goes for many businesses that commit to developing authentic, attractive, and memorable brands. As a result of intentional brand-building, they enjoy gains that range from boosted engagement to increased influence and the ability to reel in other brands that gladly pay to share their spotlight. For them, it’s the key to real prosperity in business. It can be the same for you.
However, successfully harnessing the full power of branding to strengthen your business requires much thought, planning, and consistent effort. So you need to understand what brand personality and brand messaging are, the importance of both, and how to shape them to create a lasting brand that’ll bring you lasting success. And that’s what we’re covering in this post.
We all understand what “personality” is in an everyday context. It refers to the combinations of distinct characteristics and qualities that make people recognizable and, hopefully, attractive to others. That definition remains the same when it comes to branding.
Just as every person has a personality, so does every brand. And just as an individual’s personality affects how others view and interact with them, your brand’s personality impacts how people view and interact with your business. It can make the difference between struggling to get by and:
So, of course, you don’t want to leave the development of your brand personality to chance. If you want the benefits of having a brand, you have to go after them strategically. How?
Consider four crucial steps in the process of defining your brand personality.
Many brands decide who they are AFTER launch and tailor their messaging as things shake out. That’s a waste of time, money, and resources. Instead of playing catch up, streamline things from the start.
Choose your core values and the drivers behind your work BEFORE ever coming to market. Highlight your priorities, specialties, and your emotional appeal. If these are the foundation for your brand identity, the rest will fall into place much easier. Why? Because, in selling your unique brand, you’ll stand out from others who are simply selling non-distinct products and services.
Outside perspectives can be extremely helpful when trying to gain clarity on what your brand personality should be. And who better to shed light on who you are and what you’re all about than the people who know you best?
Ask your family and friends to describe you as an individual and entrepreneur (not your brand). You should end up with a decent list of characteristics and traits, especially after doing your own brainstorming too. You can then analyze the list to see how your characteristics do carry over into your business and how they could carry over into your branding.
For example, let’s say that you sell makeup to women in their 20s. When asked, your family and friends described you as a bright ray of sunshine in their lives. Given that feedback, it would make sense to adopt a positive, uplifting brand personality and voice. This is just one example of how feedback from others can be applied to help you develop cohesive branding.
As much as your brand personality has to do with who you are, it also relates to who your audience is. Your branding could be a perfect reflection of what your business is all about. But if it doesn’t resonate with your audience, what does it matter?
So don’t develop your branding blindly or based on assumptions about your target market. Speak to current and potential customers often, observe them, and do your research to find out how they perceive your brand in comparison to competitors. Then, weave what you learn into your brand personality.
An important part of brand personality, voice can make or break your efforts. How you choose to communicate determines whether or not you can successfully breathe life into the traits and characteristics you define as part of your brand personality. You’ve got to get it right.
Should your voice and tone be funny or serious? Sophisticated or causal? Old-school or always on-trend? It could be one or several depending on your style, audience, industry, and other factors. Whatever you choose, though, the main thing is that you keep your voice consistent. After all, your voice exists everywhere your brand does; you want it to be recognizable and memorable no matter where people hear it.
Once you’ve done the work of defining who you are, gathering feedback from those close to you, getting to know your audience, and settling on your brand voice, what next? You can move on to crafting your brand message.
As mentioned, how you communicate with your audience matters. Equally important, though, is what you communicate to them (AKA your brand messaging).
Over the years, FedEx’s slogans have provided excellent examples of strong, enduring brand messaging. Take a look at a handful of those slogans and notice what they all have in common.
Did you catch it? All three highlight the company’s singular focus: Getting your packages delivered. All of FedEx’s messaging across its website and other content highlights this same commitment. Even its visual branding including the brand colors and the arrow in its logo never deviate from the main message.
Take this as a lesson. A dialed-in message that appeals to the core values, needs, and wants of your audience will always perform better than an unfocused and inconsistent one.
Walmart is another noteworthy example of this. Since its core message centers on saving money, it’s no surprise that words like “discount”, “rollback”, and “clearance” are a common staple across the company’s content. And that’s not to mention calls to action such as “be the first to save!” and “start with everyday low prices.”
The takeaway? When you have an established brand message and allow it to inform your decisions, your overall marketing becomes both simpler and more effective. Whether you’re writing blog posts, landing page copy, ad copy, Instagram captions, emails or anything else, your brand message will point true north. Even better, it’ll capture and hold the attention of your audience.
Now that we know what strong brand messaging looks like and why it’s important, let’s dive into how to create it.
What’s important to you? What motivates you to do what you do every day? What rules do you and your team live by? All of these questions tie back to a main ingredient of every solid brand—core values.
Determine what yours are, figure out which ones you have in common with your audience, and use those as the foundation for your brand messaging. Tie everything back to them and you will attract more of the right people to your business (who’ll then tell other like-minded people about you).
As with developing your brand personality, you’ll want to consider your potential customers when crafting your message. But it’s also essential to make sure it’s a match for what you’re offering, whether you sell products or services or both.
Take, for example, Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan. It matches Nike’s workout products because it centers on taking action. It also matches the audience (fitness enthusiasts) because it encourages being bold and forging ahead, which they value.
Be sure that your message is aligned with what you offer and to who.
Besides the major brands we’ve discussed, there may be others—in or outside of your industry, large or small—whose messaging resonates with you. Think about why. Learn from what those brands are doing and use the inspiration as creative and strategic fuel for your efforts.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about how to appeal to absolutely every potential customer you might come in contact with. But fretting over that is a surefire way to alienate and confuse your audience, which would only push you away from your business goals. Be resolved to keep your brand messaging as simple as possible.
Ulta Beauty does this with great success. Even though the company has two messages—“All Things Beauty. All In One Place” and “Welcome To The Fun Side Of Beauty”—they both revolve around one thing. Ulta doesn’t try to appeal to anyone who doesn’t love beauty and having fun with beauty products. They don’t try to incorporate home goods or any other topics into their messaging; it’s all beauty all the time.
So ask yourself: What message(s) will get my main point across to the majority of my audience in the most straightforward way? Once you have an answer, leave it at that.
As you can see, a fair bit of work goes into developing a brand personality and message worth taking notice of and remembering. For that investment of time, energy, and resources to pay off, consistency is vital. Once you decide on personality traits, take on a certain voice and tone, and choose a message, don’t stray from it (unless, of course, A/B tests or the direction of your company dictate change).
To help you build trust with your audience and increase brand awareness by staying “on brand” at all times, why not create a brand guide? By having your guidelines in writing, you and your team can stay on the same page and enjoy the many benefits that consistent, thoughtful branding can bring!
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