A brand without a personality won’t make it far in the super-competitive business landscape of today. Brands are elbowing their way to the front of the pack to get clicks, likes, and attention from audiences, and that takes personality – in many different forms.
There are countless ways to express personality, of course, and each brand needs to focus on different traits and attributes to set itself apart.
The problem for brand-new companies is forming this personality from scratch and turning it into a lasting entity that stands strong for the long run.
We asked entrepreneurs about how they built their brands’ personalities from square one, and they offered some golden insights you’ll want to keep for yourself.
Start with Self-Reflection
At the start of it all, your brand is a blank slate with zero personality. To put your company on the map, you need to conjure up a fresh, original brand that comes from self-reflection and a clear vision of the future.
“The process of establishing your brand’s persona requires some deep thought and consideration,” said Jamie Viggiano, Chief Marketing Officer at Fuel Capital. “It’s a level of self-reflection that actually feels a little like therapy, and it’s worth putting the work in. Once you articulate the attributes that contribute to your brand’s persona and the primary elements of your brand’s voice, you’ll have a blueprint for every single writer, marketer, product team and designer who touches your brand from now on.”
Instead of thinking in terms of profits and other business metrics, it helps to map out emotions and feelings you want to convey through your brand.
“Look at the most influential brands on the planet and reflect on how you feel when you hear that name or see that logo. Some brands promote a feeling of security or certainty in your future, like financial services or insurance firms. Other brands are all about excitement and adventure, like trendy fashion designers or automakers. Your mission is to figure out how you want people to experience your brand, then build a personality to match that vision in your mind.” – Jorge Vivar, Creative Director, Mode
Eyes on the Audience
Who are the people who care most about your brand’s personality? Your audience, obviously! Make them the top priority and always fine-tune those audience personas to help you make the right choices branding-wise.
“Defining your target audience gives you the freedom to focus your branding on the people who will most benefit from the product or service that you offer,” said Dr. Morissa Schwartz, Owner of Dr. Rissy’s Writing and Marketing. “Once you know who your audience is, online marketplaces give you the ability to find these customers and get your products in their hands. Website promotional offers can also attract potential customers. Happy customers generate a buzz for your products by leaving favorable reviews and generating brand awareness through word of mouth.”
If you need help defining your audience, it could help to go back to the drawing board and review the fundamentals of your brand and company mission.
“Successful brands do everything with their audiences in mind, and nothing is done independently of what customers enjoy and expect. This goes for everything from products and services to support and brand personality. The way that your brand expresses itself should be attuned to the culture in general, meaning you use relevant language, references, and other aspects of life that are relatable to real people. This is where many brands fall flat, so it offers you the chance to exceed expectations in a big way. – Yooseok Gong, Global Business Lead, Ohora
Focus on Your Website First
Brands need a website brimming with personality to make their mark online. This requires a mix of technical ability, design skills, strong writing, and numerous other factors that must be highly coordinated and executed in style.
“View your website as the central hub of your brand’s identity from now on, because that’s how visitors and customers recognize it. Every choice you make from color schemes and menus to catchphrases and product descriptions matter more than they once did. If you need to overhaul your website and infuse it with more personality and unique features to stand out, I suggest doing that sooner than later, because the competition is already working overtime.” – Jodi Neuhauser, CEO, Ovaterra
Performance and experience is also part of the brand experience and an extension of your company’s personality. Make sure everything works smoothly and intuitively.
“A confusing, clunky website experience is considered out of date and very unappealing to modern audiences, and that goes for the actual user interface on every platform available. There should never be any ambiguity about how to navigate a site or find a particular product. Customers expect a fast, fun experience on your website so that they leave with a positive impression. This helps promote the idea that your brand is cool, competitive, and trustworthy.” – Jim Marggraff, CEO, Kinoo
Make Discoveries on Social Media
Social media is more than sharing pictures of pets and outfits. It’s a highly competitive arena in which your brand should be sharpening that distinctive personality and connecting with audiences around the world.
“Look at social media as a way to develop and fine-tune your brand personality, even if you only have a vague idea of your direction with branding. The feedback you get on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is immediate, and you can quickly learn a lot about your brand and your audience by posting and engaging with people online. Not all the feedback is going to be nice and friendly – that’s part of the game, though. Have a thick skin and treat your time on social media as a learning experience that helps your brand improve every day.” – Natália Sadowski, Director of Aesthetics, Nourishing Biologicals
Cutting-edge software can help extract the best parts of social media so that you don’t get lost in endless threads and waste precious time
“More brands are using automation tools and social listening software to scan the social media sphere and get the data they need to inform future campaigns and initiatives. This saves your staff a lot of time and gives you the best nuggets of information from the web in a more organized way. For instance, you can sort by keyword, analyze trends, track competitor activity, and much more. This is how you fast-track your brand’s personality development.” – Maria Shriver, Co-Founder, MOSH
Customer Support is Key
It’s not the most fun or exciting part of running a business, but its customer support is crucial nonetheless. Plus, it’s a core component of your brand’s personality, so get it right!
“Every interaction you have with a customer is putting your brand personality on full display, so this is not something that should be left to chance. Customers are highly attuned to how they are treated by customer service staff, both in tone and attitude, plus the actual results they get from the experience. If customers are dissatisfied with their brand interaction in any way, they’ll let it be known on the web, and this can reflect negatively on your company as a whole.” – Soumya Mohan, COO and Co-Founder, Poised
Use surveys, polls, and other mechanisms to collect info on customer service and make changes ASAP if needed.
“Customers are usually willing to share their experiences and may offer some valuable insights that can help shape your brand personality. You definitely don’t want to play the guessing game when it comes to your customer support strategy, so use as much real data as you can gather. Any repeated or glaring mistakes should be addressed instantly so that the problems don’t persist moving forward. Professionalism needs to be at the heart of every brand personality.” – Lori Price, Founder, PixieLane
Consider the Competition
Some brands turn a blind eye to competitors, but we recommend staying tuned in to what other companies in your industry are doing. This ensures you stay in the loop and continue to formulate a unique personality.
“Ignoring competitors is an amateur move, because it prevents you from seeing the bigger picture and developing a brand personality that’s on the cutting edge. Winning brands are able to cherry-pick the best aspects of competitors’ branding and leave the unwanted stuff behind. They are then quick to reconfigure and repurpose those ingredients into something of their own. It’s not stealing – it’s inspiration. All the top brands are aware of this, and it’s an ongoing back-and-forth that will continue to play out.” – Tony Staehelin, CEO, Benable
Now that brands are competing directly across the web and different social media channels, it’s even more important to create a strong and compelling brand personality that stands out.
“Today’s customers expect to see their favorite brands go head-to-head and try to one-up each other in the public square. It’s a form of entertainment, and it creates that sense of tribal allegiance to a brand that transcends just buying a product. That’s why brands should not hesitate to lock horns with competitors, even if it means engaging in a bit of controversy now and then.” – Francis Pollara, Co-Founder and Head of Product & Growth, TheFutureParty
One thing is for sure – building a brand personality takes time, and the pieces won’t fall into place overnight. These tips will set you on the right track to creating a memorable, celebrated brand that lasts for years to come.