Good business is all about connection. As we find ourselves surrounded by technology and automation, customers are looking for human interaction, a sense of personality that helps them to build trust.
Creating a consistent brand personality is essential for developing strong relationships with existing and potential clients. Your business’s personality is who you are as a professional, and it’s who your customers interact with.
Why is it important?
Running a business is hard work. Between marketing, communications and managing the day to day operations, small business owners often feel run off their feet. Creating guidelines for a consistent brand personality is the key to simplifying what you can. No more stressing about what to post on social media or how to write an email response; a strong brand personality sets expectations for both you and your customers.
Familiarity is important.
If customers can recognize your online personality and it aligns well with your product or service, your business becomes memorable. This makes customers more likely to return or recommend you to friends and colleagues.
A brand personality helps to set your business aside from the competition in a crowded market. It’s your chance to attract customer attention, interest and loyalty.
What personalities are there to choose from?
Your brand personality influences the kinds of customers your business attracts. There are five main brand personalities.
Excited businesses are bright, carefree, youthful, and fun! They focus on engaging customers with new and unique ideas and enthusiasm. This personality is perfect for businesses that target young and/or creative audiences.
Sincere businesses are kind, thoughtful and family-oriented. They value honesty and friendliness. This personality is a great choice for small or local businesses.
Rugged businesses are tough and outdoorsy. They’re strong and capable. This personality best suits masculine or athletic industries/products.
Competence-focused businesses are all about success, leadership and influence. They’re reliable, hard-working and confident. This personality suits businesses, clients and products with a strong sense of ambition.
Sophisticated businesses are prestigious and elegant. They often use feminine branding and appeal to an upper-class market. This personality is a great fit for brands with a taste for the finer things in life.
So which one of these personalities sounds like you? Hopefully, the right choice is glaringly obvious.
If not, choosing and sticking to one may feel overwhelming, but there are a few basic factors you can consider to make the right decision for your business.
Know your business
What do you sell? Where do you sell it? How? Know what your business has to offer, then think about the brand personalities that might suit your business’s goals and values best.
Service-based businesses can always benefit from a competence-driven brand personality. It helps customers to trust in the reliability and quality of work.
Consider what your business needs to say. Then you can start to think about the most effective ways to say it.
Know your customer
Without customers, there’s no business! Your personality should be influenced by the customers it needs to attract. Think about your ideal buyer’s personality. What content are they most likely to connect with?
A business with an upper-class target customer might benefit from a sophisticated approach, with branding emulating the glitz and glamor of the product/service provided.
Your customer’s needs and interests should play a huge roll in how you choose to communicate with them.
Know your competition
Business is a contest. Your branding’s job is to set your business apart from its competition, making it more appealing and memorable to potential customers.
Be aware of what the competition is up to. While you shouldn’t copy a competitor’s branding, research can help to better understand your clientele and business goals. Compare different brand personalities within your industry. What works? What doesn’t? How could you put your own spin on branding?
Where and how can your businesses personality shine?
The best tool in your business branding toolbelt is your style guide. In fact, it should be the first thing you put together once you’ve decided on the tone of your communication.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be a clear and consistent tool that can easily be shared with all members of your team. A good style guide will also be constantly evolving as you grow and solidify how you want to present yourself to the world.
A style guide is a space for listing decisions you’ve already made. You might include:
– Business goals, value and/or mission statement
– Voice/tone of online communications (casual or professional writing style)
– Visual branding (colors, fonts, logo, formatting)
– Grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting decisions
Now, where can you let your brand personality shine? And how can you do it?
The social media ‘you’ is often the first ‘you’ your customers will meet. This means social media has an important role to play in defining how your business connects with the people it serves.
Consider the social media platforms that best suit your business and its market.
Each platform’s audience is there for a different reason so it’s important to choose your platform not only based on how it fits your business but what stages your customers are at in their journey.
Facebook and Twitter are must-have for most businesses. Twitter limits text-length, making it fantastic for brief, casual communications and hashtags can help with discoverability. Most people are on twitter for entertainment so it’s great for customers in the awareness stage.
A strong Facebook presence can boost search engine rankings and help with communication and brand familiarity.
This is where you can show what you’re all about, what you stand for and how you differ from other businesses. Facebook the place to be if you want to build trust with your audience and go a little more in-depth than on twitter.
Instagram is a great choice for marketing to a younger demographic. As a visual platform, Instagram is perfect for businesses with images to share.
Fashion, travel and graphic design niches spring to mind but if you make any connection with food, animals or the outdoors, Instagram is a must. It’s similar to twitter when you break down what people are there for so treat it the same way, be entertaining and you’ll create brand awareness.
Youtube and Pinterest are also great options for the same businesses that work well on Instagram. Having a strong visual element to your business gives you plenty of options for connecting and growing your audience.
If you find yourself in the B2B world LinkedIn will be a strong contender. It’s amazing for networking and customers are much more open to being sold.
Whatever you choose, make sure your business’s social media posts are consistent with your brand personality and the audiences of the platforms you’re posting them on. Focus on creating value-adding content.
Email and Live Chat
Your brand personality should make written communications easy! Decide on a writing style and tone for emails and live chat communications that all members of your team can use. You might create clear, concise and professional templates for emails to save time, stress and accidental omissions of important information.
It doesn’t stop with email though, you can also do the same with live chat with shortcuts. By going back through past conversations you can turn commonly asked questions into shortcuts to quickly and easily respond to your customers.
Shortcuts and email templates are a great place to start but remember you can always make adjustments as you go to make sure you’re putting a real voice behind your conversations. Templates are just that and should be used to guide your voice and tone.
Your brand’s personality is its selling point. By creating style guides, communication templates and brand consistency, you can create a voice that customers remember, care about and return to.
Think about how your brand is communicating and who it’s communicating with, then make that communication purposeful, effective and on-brand.