Putting personality into brands

Customers often embrace a brand because they can relate to its personality.
It may be that the brand has similar personality traits to them or they want their own personality to be more like that of the brand. Either way, the personality (adjectives that describe the brand using human traits) of the brand plays a large role in the experience for customers.
Brands today need to create an emotional bond so that their audience will say “I love that brand!” “I want to hang with that brand!” or “I know it’s more expensive but it’s worth it…that brand understands me.”
This connection with customers on a more emotional level is why it’s important to know and understand your customers’ needs and their current perception of your brand.
Your brand personality is lived out through a variety of sensory touch points between your customers and your company. Whether it’s the sound of a specifically tuned Harley Davidson exhaust system or the smell of freshly ground coffee beans at Starbucks, the sight, sound, and touch of your brand’s personality will represent your company to your customers.
One representation of a company’s personality is their visual presentation to the consumer through their marketing materials. Advertising, packaging, press releases, direct mail, brochures, web sites, etc., all play a role in communicating a company’s personality. This is often the first impression that sets the foundation for creating an impression of your company in the minds of the audience.
If your company promotes itself as being humorous rather than serious, it conveys a specific attitude and you can expect a very specific reaction by consumers to your company’s product or service.
Knowing your company is vital if you want customers to relate to it. Companies that try to be something that they aren’t, and never will be, confuse their customers and leave employees lost, unable to believe in the brand.
Another important aspect of conveying your brand personality is your employees. Employees have many touch points with customers and should be commissioned as brand ambassadors.
The understanding and incorporation of your company’s values by the employees greatly influence the perception a customer has and their experience when they interact with your brand.
Every interaction that your customers have with your brand forms an impression in their minds and oftentimes the first or last impression is with an employee.
Unfortunately, your customer probably won’t tell you if they have a negative experience with your brand, they’ll just walk away and search for another brand that they can relate to and that they believe understands them better.
And undoubtedly there will be someone there to gladly take your place.
With all of this said, many companies focus on making a better widget or putting up a sign identifying a service. They miss out on the opportunity to clearly differentiate themselves by conveying their unique personality in a way that is relevant and meaningful to their customers.
Do yourself a favor, figure out who you are, who your customers want you to be, and empower your employees to live the brand.

— Matt Barnhart is the principal of MB Design, a graphic design and brand consulting firm that focuses on helping manufacturing and service related companies position themselves for long-term success. He can be reached at matt@mb-design.com or (360) 733-1692.

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