Smarter Marketing Blog

Brand Personality, what people really think about you.

Brand Personality

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

6 feelings that you want your customer to have about your brand.

This is probably going to sound a bit ‘nerdy’ to you, but I’ve just finished watching the Breaking Bad box set on Netflix. What’s nerdy about that, you ask? Well, I know that I’m a few years behind everybody else in watching this show but for me, the character of Walter White knew a lot about the three building blocks of a brand. He appeared to understand that it must mean something, be relevant to somebody and known by people.

Think about it – his brand, per se, was built on the product’s high quality (meaning). This is why his product (crystal meth) was more sought after than his competitors. Secondly, he used a visual hook. Because of his ‘cooking’ process, the end product had a blue tinge to it. It became known thereafter as ‘blue’, which built a brand image for his customers (relevancy).

I want to avoid spoilers here, but Walter’s constant challenge was to get a reliable distribution network for his product (known) and it could be argued that his personality traits, impeded his efforts. Both of these made me think of brand communication, in that, what’s the point in having a brilliant product if nobody knows about it or you allow your personality to get in the way of its awareness?

So, that is how Walter White influenced the writing of this article. In this post I want to elaborate on a business being real and how brand perception can reflect that.

Discovery sessions and branding.

Some of the word-of-mouth leads we get in O’C&K, enquire about a logo review or a sales campaign. This is a good sign, in that the prospect has noticed that there is some issue they want to solve. Sometimes though, we have to convince them that a traditional marketing campaign is not always the only, or best solution.

The truth is usually, that they simply haven’t had the time to sit down and think about how their marketplace is changing. The day to day operation of the business and keeping its head above water is challenging enough, in this day and age. Accordingly, during our initial meeting we end up discussing the current and future strengths of their business, their customers and how they engage with them.

We call this our discovery session. In other words we talk to them about being smarter about their marketing activity, based on an underlying business objective. Being smarter can apply to businesses that already undertake marketing activity and need support or those that need to outsource. Either way our focus is on helping them to achieve their business objectives by communicating in a more engaging way.

Looking at the big picture, such as the brand’s personality, is always a good place to start because how your business engages with your customers and how they react, will be the driver of your business growth. We find that there are four useful headings under which to review your brand personality, they are; Brand Positioning, Digital Visibility, Customer Engagement and Networking. For the purpose of this post, I will concentrate on the branding element.

As referred to earlier in this post, there are three critical elements of any brand that must be understood by the owner. The first one is to determine why the business exists in the first place. What meaning is it going to bring to somebody’s life?

The second is relevancy. Let’s face it, you cannot determine if you are relevant, if you don’t know who your audience is. If the audience has been clearly defined, then ask yourself – do you know who the loyal ones are? How many have moved to the competition? Is anybody recommending you, offline? Do you use social media as a listening post for determining this loyalty factor?

The third important measure of the brand (as pursued by Walter White above) is awareness and recognition. Are people aware of the brand’s vision or mission. Research, be it ‘top-of-mind’ awareness (no prompt), ‘considered’ awareness (choices) or ‘prompted awareness, will offer feedback on where the brand ranks apropos competitors.

Your real brand.

In O’C&K, we believe that one of the biggest changes in recent years is the drop in brand loyalty, generally. In my parent’s day, one always bought a ‘Hoover’ rather than a vacuum cleaner or a ‘Crombie’ rather than a coat. Quality was presumed as the marketing message was trusted. Millions of euros (or pounds in those days) were spent ramping up awareness (and loyalty), irrespective of the quality of the product.

Nowadays, however, perceived quality has to fight hard against financial value and function. People are looking for authenticity and reassurance in brands. There is much more cynicism towards businesses, marketing and messaging. In these recessionary times it has been suggested that function is the new emotion and for marketers, this relates to brand personality. As a result, brands are being forced to get real again.

To differentiate themselves (and survive), businesses will have to start showing a personality. Preferably one that is real and personable. This will not be achieved as the result of smarter communication only, you must also offer people something that’s important to making their lives better. Not only might this facilitate charging a premium price but it also might retain and attract customers.

In order to project your personality professionally, you should have a customer engagement strategy. This would be a focus and guideline for everything you say and do. Elements such as colours, logos, advertisements, and your online activity are all just a reinforcement of your brand values, your brand promise, your personality and why you exist. A good customer engagement strategy will assist with the perception of your brand being authentic and transparent.

How you engage with people, is your real brand.

Tips and Timesavers.

We’ve written many posts on this blog, probably reminding readers of what they already know – that most purchase decisions are based on emotion. In our opinion, businesses that place value ahead of price considerations are going to be better placed to succeed into the future.

In this context, brand perception really matters. What you do to create and position your brand among your customers, will be determine the sustainability of your organisation. Here are some points to bear in mind when considering what you want people to feel when they encounter your brand.

  • That you are authentic – the experience of your customer should be consistent across all platforms.
  • They feel part of a community – their family and friends think of your brand in the same way.
  • They can rely on you – you deliver on your brand promise.
  • They can connect with you – you are available when they need you and your staff live the brand values.
  • They are the ‘hero’ of your story – you can empathise with them and contribute to their community.
  • They can trust you – you are honest with them, if something goes wrong.

I suppose what you could say about the above list of ‘feelings’ is that people just want your business to be real.

On occasions I’m asked to give a presentation on sponsorship (see our previous post on sponsorship) – when I do, the topic revolves around all parties to the sponsorship agreement being real. Sponsors have to be real about their engagement with customers / fans, the organisers have to be real about delivering for the sponsor and the ‘fans’ have to be real and appreciate that the sponsor is adding value (only when they are, of course).

To carry this thinking through to businesses showing a real personality, sometimes we can be too hung up on being perfect.  Hotels obsessing about room décor, fast-food restaurants relying on optimal colours, logo usage guidelines, banks anguishing over customer flows and ‘hotpoints’ in branches and even vineyards (wine-makers) attempting to create the perfect taste (ughhhhh). Sometimes it’s good just to be yourself.

Times are changing. Reality TV might be a misnomer but still, producers can no longer determine where and how you watch programmes. Shops without stock photo ads on the walls are perceived as more genuine -disposable fashion, anyone?  There seems to be a trending back towards traditional retail values – the personal touch. People are just fed up at being a number and a wallet.

Every business should review its brand positioning, on an ongoing basis, to ensure they are still ‘in touch’ with their customers. Yes, they should adhere to branding guidelines, but they shouldn’t lose sight of what the customer actually wants – a great experience. Sometimes, all people want is for you (your business) to be yourself and have a real personality.

I want to finish by referring to The Brand Desire 2013 report by the U.K. agency, Clear. In it they suggest that a brand’s desirability comprises a ‘unique balance of energy, substance and connection, qualities that have a profound effect on the brand makes the consumer think, feel and act”. They hold that the brand should energise the organisation towards success (being real). The tangible proof of that energy is ‘substance’ (customer relevancy) and the result is that people will want to ‘connect’ with the brand as they would a friend.

“Any brand can be successful if they think about the world in terms of the three principles of energy, substance and connection. Brand Desire is about having an offer that continuously makes a difference to people’s lives.” …. Peter Askew, director of strategy at Clear.

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

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