NOTE: This page includes a free worksheet you can use to do the exercise I describe below. Enjoy, and let me know what you discover! – Pamela
Every brand has a personality, and if you’re in charge of your own brand, it’s crucial to figure out what that personality is, and how to communicate it consistently.
What is a Brand, Really?
You probably expect me to talk about your logo, don’t you? A logo can be part of a brand, but it’s not the whole story — not by a long shot. Your brand is the experience customers have when doing business with your company. It includes:
- The benefits you commit to delivering. These are things like more time or money, recognition, acceptance, security or pleasure. Does your product or service deliver any of these benefits?
- The promises you make and keep. These include the features your product or service offers, and how you deliver them. Do you meet the deadline or delivery date? Do you include extras, or go above and beyond the ordinary? Do you find ways to add value?
- How you follow up after you’ve delivered. This covers aspects of your business like how you keep in touch, how you deal with problems that arise and how you nurture your business relationships over time.
Your “voice” forms your brand, too. Your brand voice is the verbal part of your brand presentation: the words you use, the tone your copywriting takes, the way you answer the phone and the style of your letters.
Finally, your visual presentation wraps it up in a cohesive package. At least, it should. Your visual presentation should be a reflection of everything we covered above: the benefits you offer, the promises you make and keep, and the words you use to present your products or services.
Your visual presentation includes things like:
- Your colors
- Your typefaces
- Your logo
- Your overall graphic style
A Quick Exercise to Uncover your Brand Personality
Here’s how to discover your company’s brand personality so you can use this style in all the marketing efforts you undertake in the future.
1. Take a piece of paper and draw six horizontal lines. To the left of each line, write:
- Personable and friendly
- Spontaneous and high energy
- Modern or high tech
- Cutting edge
- Accessible to all
2. To the right of each line, write:
- Corporate and professional
- Careful thinking and planning
- Classic and traditional
3. Better yet, download the Brand Personality Worksheet I made for you. Print it, and sit down with your favorite beverage. Spend 10 minutes thinking about where your company is when it comes to these descriptors.
4. Place dots closest to wherever your company falls along the spectrum. Try to not over think this, and don’t be afraid to envision where you’d like your company to be, even if it’s not there now. Draw your dots, and read on.
Where Does Your Company Live on the Spectrum?
Are most of your dots toward the left?
Your company is contemporary, fast-moving and energetic. You like to make ideas happen quickly, and you don’t mind taking risks. Your communication style is friendly and approachable.
Are most of your dots toward the right?
Your company is traditional, relies on solid planning and established ways of getting things done. You might be trying to appeal to upscale clientele, and your communication style is corporate and professional.
What Does It Mean?
Knowledge is power: defining these brand personality traits means you can apply them consistently in your verbal and visual communication.
A clear vision of your brand personality will guide your choice of colors, typography, word and actions.
A company that is traditional and established will use classic typefaces that have been around for centuries. Color palettes lean toward conservative, rich hues. The communication style is formal and corporate. This company’s brand image stands the test of time. Because it relies on elements that have been in use for decades, the style will still look fresh five years from now.
A company that is contemporary and high energy will have colors, typography and a communication style that reflect this. The color palette might be vivid and trendy. The typefaces used have been released in the last ten years. The graphic style is open, airy and asymmetrical. The copywriting voice is friendly and approachable. This company will likely have to re-make their image more often than the traditional one to stay ahead of visual trends.
What If Your Company is In Between?
If your dots are mostly in the middle, I urge you to take a stand about how you’d like your brand personality to be perceived. When it comes to marketing your business, the middle is the worst place to be. You’re guaranteeing that your brand will be entirely forgettable, because it’s not one thing or the other.
The middle is Blandsville. Avoid it all all costs.
If your dots are all over the place, with some on one side, and some on the other, you have a quirky brand that doesn’t fit easily into a box. That’s good! Feel free to mix and match traits from the lists above. You might use traditional typography and colors, but a very friendly and approachable copywriting style, for example.
Uncover It and Let It Shine
Every brand has a personality. One personality isn’t “better” than the other. Once you identify your company’s brand personality you can use that knowledge in all the marketing work you do.
Your communications will look and sound like they’re coming from the same source over time, and your decisions about how to express your brand verbally and visually will be right on target.
This exercise only works if you actually take ten minutes to do it. Carve out the time today to think it through, and see for yourself how much easier it is to market your business.
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