Several years ago, writer and founder of research and behavioural science consulting group Worthy Strategy David Trahan wrote an article focusing on famous drag queens to explain how brands really need to know “who they are” and how they should shape their online presence.
In the article about “personifying your brand”, one of the drag queens, Jackie Beat, describes her brand as “a one-night stand between Dolly Parton and Paul Stanley of KISS”.
This is, if you think about it, quite impactful.
With an analogy like that, you have quite a good idea of who Jackie Beat is. All of a sudden, that person is in your mind and you can see how they behave, act and interact with the world.
Marketers and advertisers are notorious for using unusual and creative ideas, which is why this comparison works wonders to get Trahan’s point across.
In the article, Trahan describes how you have only seconds to catch a person’s interest before they swipe away on social media. And the thing that’s going to keep them on your content is your brand personality.
Brand personality is not just a logo, product or an old strategy in a PowerPoint presentation that’s sitting in a drawer somewhere in the office. It’s about how it’s brought to life and personified, and how it lives and breathes in the world.
Trahan wrote, “Brand personality is what gets your emails opened, your content liked and your Instagram followed. You don’t have to be funny. You just need to be humanised, dynamic and interesting.”
All in the mind
The perception of your brand lives in the minds of your consumers, and you build that perception as they experience your brand through every touchpoint (any engagement with your customers that has the potential to influence their opinions of your brand, product or service).
So, where do you start?
As an existing brand, you probably have an idea of your company’s mission, vision and values – which is a good starting point from which to build your brand.
Or you could have an “origin story” about how you came into being. That is an incredibly powerful strategy and many brands today use their origin story to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
There are multiple tools you can use to define brand strategy and create a multidimensional image of what your brand is and what it stands for, as well as its functional and emotional benefits.
At Flow Communications, we explain to our clients that one of the best strategies to implement is using a “brand wheel”, a tool used in the development process to grasp and forge a powerful brand identity – it essentially becomes a template or blueprint for your brand.
Using your brand wheel ensures that whoever is talking on behalf of your brand – be it a staff member or a company stakeholder – is singing from the same hymn sheet as everyone else in your organisation.
So, the question is: how do you as a brand position yourself in the market and influence the perception you want to create in the minds of your customers?
Here are three building blocks from our brand and strategy team at Flow Communications for bringing your brand personality to life:
1. Create value
Every single touchpoint that you have as a brand – be it your website, your social media platforms or your content – needs to be built around adding value to your end user. You need to factor it into all decision-making.
For instance, your website needs to be intuitive and easy to navigate; your social media content needs to add value by informing, educating or entertaining; and the same goes for your packaging, advertising and customer service.
2. Be relevant
Relevance is the new reach. If it’s not relevant to consumers, then they can easily tune you out. It’s all very well to have 16 000 Facebook followers, but if they’re not engaging with your content because it’s not relevant to them or adding any value to their lives, then it’ll become pointless having them as followers.
So, how do you create relevance? It’s important to identify where you can be relevant in terms of current and trending topics and what issues are making headlines.
Don’t shy away from having a point of view. In fact, it’s become increasingly crucial for companies to participate in such discussions, especially if you’re aiming to reach members of Generation Z, for example, who want to talk about societal issues and want the brands they consume to be relevant and have a point of view.
Obviously, you can’t talk to everyone and you can’t please everybody. So, pick the person you need to speak to and make yourself relevant to them. Cultural relevance is a powerful trend that brands can use in their strategy as it creates an emotional bond, especially here in Africa. People feel that their background and culture reflect their identities, and using this is an extremely powerful way to tell a relevant story.
3. Use emotion
The final building block to bring your brand’s personality to life is bringing emotion into your strategy.
Being emotional doesn’t mean a gut-wrenching type of communication every time you interact with your audience; it’s just a matter of making them feel something – just to say to them, “I see you”, make them smile, or make them feel heard and represented in some way.
That creates emotion – and emotion creates a connection that is far more valuable to you as a brand than 50 000 Instagram followers.