As we progress, the ways things work change through time. Before, if you wanted more sales, you just have to blast your message to more and more people. However, that’s not good enough today. These days, for a company to succeed, they don’t have to allot a huge marketing budget, instead; they need to focus on connecting with their target audience. In this post, we will talk about personalizing your brand for your business. Let’s start!
People connect with people, not objects, not with products or services, not even with companies. Success is not solely dependent on the size of your marketing and advertising budget, but the depth of your branding. The key to success is personalizing your brand because having a connection is vital.
Let’s start with a scenario some 50-60 years ago. In those good old days, if you went into a store, you’d find that there were not that many products on the shelf. As you walk into the store, there’d be only so many options of shampoo or laundry detergent. Back then, the key to successful marketing was brand awareness. With only a few options on the self, it was easy to tell the difference between the products and brands. The speed of imitation was slow.
If you wanted to sell more, all you needed to do was to get more brand awareness. You could run more ads in the newspaper, more billboards, and more commercials on tv or the radio. Before, the companies with the biggest ad budgets win because they could outspend their competition to get more brand awareness.
During that time, there was almost no such thing as terrible publicity. A bad commercial was still publicity and still relatively good for business because it spreads your brand across the people who saw it. Today, awareness alone is not enough. Having the best product or service in the market doesn’t guarantee success. Again, to succeed, your business must connect. And since people connect with people, you must develop the personal properties of your brand. Today, the marketplace winner is always the company with the most personalized brand.
In the past, the trend was all about brand awareness. Then it was all about features. Years after it was all about features and benefits. Now, we’re in a new era, that favors connection, meaning, relevance, and emotion. We moved from a time when any attention was great to today’s era, where the wrong message can seriously damage and hurt your brand.
Good VS Right
A few years ago, good was hard. Good photography, good video, good website – these were hard to achieve before. It was slow, and it was costly. Today, good is relatively easy and cheap. We can shoot a 4k video using only a phone. Technology that yields excellent results is in the hands of so many people now that you can have an excellent website, good design, good video, and photography, all of these you can get easily and at a cheap price. The real question now is “is it right?”. Today, being good is not enough, you need it to be “right”.
Your company’s long-term success depends on your brand’s ability to develop and maximize differentiation, connection, experience, and meaning. And the best way to do that is by personalizing your brand.
Benefits of Personalizing your Brand
Perks of Having Personalized Brands
- Increased revenues
- More margins
- Increased ROI on marketing spend
- Greater employee retention
- Customer loyalty
- Increased message reach
“Brands give us a shorthand. In a distracted and confusing world, these shortcuts help consumers make sense of all the options. And if you’re trying to stand out, finding shortcuts is critical.” – Sally Hogshead
It’s not enough to have a great product or service. It’s not enough just to shout that you exist. In a distracted world, the business that provides the clearest shortcuts wins.
What Does Branding Mean?
Branding is more in the mind than in the eye.
Many businesses think their brand is their logo and that their logo is their brand. Even among marketing specialists, the word logo is often used to describe what we like to call your visual foundation. These are your logos, graphic elements, and color palette. The pitfall that trips up most people is they think their brand is all about what they see. However, what we see is only a part of that brand. Branding is more of like inscribing an experience in our minds.
A brand is human. You must define your brand in terms of human qualities and attributes. All too often, companies make the mistake of taking the life and personality out of their brand. The goal here is to help identify and then harness the personal properties of brands.
“Strive for humanness. Great brands achieve a high level of humanness.” – Guy Kawasaki.
People connect with people, not with products or services. Therefore, humanizing your brand is vital for connection.
Branding is all about giving the right pieces. Companies do not make their brand; their audience does. Companies only provide the pieces their audience uses.
Faced with competitive pressure, brands imitate. The key to branding is finding out who you are and be more of it.
“Building a strong brand comes from paying attention to all those details that make up the whole experience for users. – Joe Gebbia (AIRBNB)
6 Steps to Developing the Personal Properties of Your Brand
Now, we are going to talk about how to maximize your effectiveness by developing the human properties of your brand.
Human properties are valuable because they offer distinction, connection, emotion, and relatability. Humanized brands provide a sense of complexity and depth, resulting in greater customer loyalty, higher margins, better recall, and more.
To develop the personal properties of your brand, you need to develop and define your brand’s PERSON, which means:
To compete in the marketplace, personalizing your brand is the only way to stand out, connect, create a consistent experience, and develop a sense of meaning.
Step 1: Define your Brand Personality
Define who you are, not just what you do, define your overall personality type. In a distracted world like ours, businesses that provide the clearest shortcuts win.
Define your brand look. What is your brand’s style, design, feel, aesthetics, and so on? Your brand looks will impact all your touch points such as your physical store, website, social media pages, signages, and prints. It’s the first thing your audience recognizes and remembers you by. The look of your brand should be distinct. Be sure to specify your brand’s photography, graphics, texts, and colors.
Define your brand voice. Define your brand’s overall messaging, tone, and volume. Your personality dictates what you say, how you say it, and where you say it. Your brand voice is presented through your website, social media channels, videos, blog, email, in-store, your packaging, and more. So make sure you focus a lot of your attention here because your brand’s personality is revealed the most through what you look and sound like.
Define your brand values. Identify what your brand believes. What you believe drives what you do and how you do it. Having values is key to creating your “we-believe” statements. These are the core of your brand. Your brand beliefs are your “why” that drives the “what” of what you do. Your values and beliefs make your organization deeper, more complex, and more human.
Define your brand meaning. Developing your brand personality means defining your brand’s meaning. Here’s the key: customers want their purchases to say something about them. Our purchases define us. People crave meaning so much that we will align our purchase choices with anything that echoes the purpose of our lives.
If you don’t define your brand’s meaning, the public will do it for you. Choosing your brand means customers are aligning their lives with your brand’s reputation, values, beliefs, and personality. So if your brand meaning is unclear, inconsistent, or undefined, your brand will not help people tell their story and they will probably ignore your brand.
Develop your brand’s personality by defining your overall identity, look, voice, values, and the meaning of your brand.
Step Two: Define your Brand Experience
There are two major principles for a well-branded experience: predictability and humanity. A well-branded company is predictable. People love predictability. No one wants to go to an unpredictable restaurant. No one wants to buy an unpredictable technology or car. Predictability is key.
Every time people go to your website, it should be consistent. Every time someone comes into your store, it should feel, look, and sound the same. Customer service or social media should also be consistent every single time. All channel experiences should feel like the previous channel experiences.
Now alignment means that the website experience looks, feels, and sounds like your in-store experience, the same thing with your phone and social media experience. All experiences in one channel should feel like the experiences in other channels.
The key to building a powerful brand is consistency and alignment. To develop a consistent brand experience, you must define your desired brand experience, and then communicate it to your entire team. Companies that do not articulate their brand experience leave it up for interpretation by every single employee.
Define your desired brand experience in terms of human attributes. Focus on emotions, and how you want people to think or feel about your brand. As your company grows, you’re going to have more employees, more locations, and more channels. So having a clearly defined brand experience and how each person and channel fulfills it is vital.
Step Three: Define your Brand Relevance
Brand relevance is all about defining your target audience. When defining your brand’s target audience, focus on two major areas – personality and problems.
We use the term “brand relevance” because relevance is defined by how practical and applicable something is to someone. Your brand needs to matter to a large segment of people, your target audience.
Define your target audience’s personality. When developing your company’s brand relevance, the first thing to focus on is your target audience’s personality. This is psychographics, not demographics. We are not talking about age, gender, income level, education level, geographic region, and stuff like that. All of that is just superficial. It’s not universal, it’s not even always that accurate. And it’s not a collective representation of who you’re aiming at. Your target audience comprises a very diverse set of people. Even though each individual is unique, they have personality traits that are in common. Your job is to find their common threads.
The other key to defining your target audience is by identifying their problems, emotions, and needs. When you identify your customers’ problems, they recognize you as a brand that understands them. Emotions make your brand relatable because emotions are universal. What you did today is likely different from what I did today. But how you felt today is probably similar to how I felt. Focusing on emotions makes you more relatable.
Another reason you need to define your target audience’s emotions is that customer emotions drive purchase decisions. We make purchases using the emotional processing side of our brains, not the linear processing side.
To personalize your brand, develop your brand relevance. Identify your target audience in terms of problems, emotions, needs, and personality.
Step Four: Develop your Brand Separation
What makes your brand stand out from your competition? What makes you different? This focus goes beyond a difference in functions, features, and benefits. It’s easy to define what makes you different from your competition in terms of functional difference or product offering. But those differences are superficial. They’re temporary, and they don’t serve as an adequate source of distinction. Earlier, we learned the first step in personalizing your brand is to define your brand personality. This step is like that.
To personalize your brand, define your competitive landscape based on their collective personality, not functions and features, not even demographic differences. Your brand personality makes you different, authentic. To stand out, your brand’s personality must differ from your competitors.
Remember earlier that in face of competitive pressure, brands imitate. Functions and features are so easy to copy, but personality is not. When competitors try to copy each other’s personalities, they come across as inauthentic and fake. It’s vital to understand your brand personality considering your competition’s personality.
Knowing who you are will protect you from falling into the trap of imitating your competition. To personalize your brand, define the collective personality of your competition.
Step Five: Defining your Brand Offer
Your brand offer is what you sell. Most business leaders think the offer is the actual product or service. But really, what you should focus on is to define your product or service in terms of it being a solution to a problem, or else you risk at being ignored.
To personalize your brand, tell people how your brand can improve their life. People buy products and services to enhance their lives. People won’t buy your products or services unless they feel your offer justifies the cost and trouble of purchasing it in the first place.
Focus your solutions on emotions. As said earlier, emotions make your brand relatable because emotions are universal. Focusing on the emotional aspects of what you offer is not only more human but also more effective.
When you position your offer as a solution to a problem, and it’s anchored in emotion, you increase the perceived value of your product. The point here is you want to find not just the functional benefit of your product, but also the emotions. Maybe you sell convenience or speed, or maybe you help save time and hassle. Focusing on emotions increases the value of your brand offer.
Customer emotions drive purchase decisions. People don’t make purchases out of the analytical processing side of the brains but on the emotional processing side. Therefore, you must clarify the emotional benefits of your offer.
Create that shortcut for the customer. Most companies waste time and money focusing on the functions, features, and details of what they offer. However, personalizing your brand means focusing on the human attributes of your offer. When you position your offering as a solution to your target market’s problem and anchor it in emotion, you gain trust, loyalty, connection, and value.
Step Six: Define your Brand Narrative
The goal of your brand narrative is to focus on developing a verbal foundation and to ensure the clarity of your brand message. Your verbal foundation starts with developing a communications framework. This framework serves as your source of inspiration and guidance for all brand messaging. The most important components you’ll want to define include your modifiers, verbs, emotions, and we-believe statements.
A brand’s personality is most clearly displayed through their attributes and actions. So modifiers and verbs are vital, you’d always want to make sure you spend some time developing a strong list of your modifiers and your verbs.
Modifiers and Verbs
The modifiers are the attributes of your brand. So when you go to step one in defining your brand personality, list the attributes. What are you? Are you trustworthy, real, humble, kind? Whatever those attributes are, those are your modifiers. These words describe who you are on a personality level.
Now your verbs. What do you do? Do you give, serve, help, know, grow? Whatever your words are, look at the actions that your brand does and make a list of all your actions. Your attributes and verbs reveal your brand personality the most.
“We believe” statements frame your company’s internal mindset and can also be used front and center in your advertising. These statements are magnetic, and they serve as the “why” to the “what” that you do. They are a driver for brand loyalty, and they reveal your brand personality, galvanize customer loyalty, and more.
Developing your brand narrative is vital at any stage of your company’s growth. But as you grow with more employees, more locations, and more channels, it becomes imperative to develop the verbal foundation for your company.
As stated earlier, people connect with people, not with products or services, and not with entities or organizations. So developing your communication framework is vital for consistency, alignment, and making your brand feel like a person.
Final Thoughts and Application
You need to create a brand guide. This is a document everyone in your organization can share. This will serve as a guide for testing current touch points and creating new ones. If you are going to create a brand new website, logo, graphics, video, photography, or anything else, you can consult your brand guide.
If you’re bringing on a new employee or a new agency partner, you will want to use your brand guide. This is setting the expectation of what you want out of your employees, and it’s also setting the expectation of what needs to be delivered through this agency partner.
Your brand personality can also serve as a piece of your employee review process. And it’s also a point for performance evaluation where you can say, “Listen, you are not holding up to our standard.” If you don’t have a brand guide, it’s hard to use this in that kind of context.
Human properties bring a sense of complexity, connection, relatability, and loyalty. To succeed in business these days, you will need to stand out and connect. We are bombarded with over 30,000 marketing messages a week. So you need to develop a clear brand. Humanizing your brand by developing the personal properties of your brand is the key.