By Samuel Thimothy, VP at OneIMS.com, an inbound marketing agency, and co-founded Clickx.io, the digital marketing intelligence platform.
If you stop to think about the number of different brands out there, it will make your head spin. Across all industries, there are millions — probably even billions — of brands in the marketplace. And you’re just one of them.
But this thought shouldn’t make you panic. Sure, you need to find a way to stand out, especially when it comes to the brands you directly compete with — but this isn’t an impossible task. You can do so by creating a brand persona.
Your brand persona is like your brand identity. It’s what makes your brand unique. It tells your customer everything they need to know about you, from what you offer to how you interact with the marketplace. In other words, your brand persona humanizes your business and creates a story that your customers can connect with.
A brand persona should feel natural, but it actually should be a very strategic process. Here are three steps you can take to create a brand persona that your customers will resonate with and remember.
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1. What message do you want your brand to convey?
Take a moment to think about what message your brand is trying to share with your audience. What are you hoping to accomplish with the products or services you offer? Are you there to provide support, or are you a leader guiding your audience through uncharted territory? Are you a helpful sidekick or the coach pushing them outside of their comfort zone?
When you know what message you want to convey, you can better understand where you stand both in your space and with your audience. Use this insight to create your brand’s mission and vision statement, as well as a promise to customers on what you’ll deliver. Don’t worry too much about getting these concepts “right” at this stage — you can always come back and make changes later.
2. Who are your customers?
Think about the people you get along with most. You’re probably pretty similar to them, right? While you might come from different backgrounds or belong to different age groups and demographics, you share some common understandings that allow for a deeper connection.
The same is going to be true with your brand and your customers. While your brand doesn’t need to be a direct reflection of who your customers are, you’ll want to know your audience enough to create a persona that resonates with their needs and preferences.
For example, if your brand is targeted to younger demographics, a formal approach probably won’t gain traction. On the other hand, if your target audience includes older business professionals, using lots of flashy colors and slang probably won’t get you the reputation you’re after.
3. What exemplifies your brand qualities?
Now it’s time to get creative. Try to think of a person (real or fictional), animal, cartoon, image or object that represents the qualities of your brand. Maybe your brand is loyal, so a golden retriever might represent your brand well. Maybe your brand is fun, so you use bright colors to represent your brand.
These images and ideas don’t need to become a part of your external-facing brand, but they can help set the mood for what you’re trying to accomplish. Think of this stage as creating a mood board for your brand, including things like graphic style, logos, words and phrases that you think represent who you want your brand to be.
You can use these elements to create brand guidelines including everything from your logo and tagline to the words and phrases you use on social media and when connecting with customers. These elements can also be a great refresher to revisit any time you or someone on your team needs to be reminded of who your brand really is.
As you start to shape your brand, more ideas might come into play — and that’s okay. Your brand persona should be consistent, but it should be an ever-evolving thing. As you get to know your customers more, new trends emerge and you start to offer new products or services, your brand persona can be adjusted.