Illustration: Joshua Copus-Oxland: https://joshuacopusoxland.artstation.com
Imagine you’re establishing your presence in the tech industry. You’ve gone from startup to scaleup and you’re gaining traction in your sector. You want to expand your reach to new customers and gain more momentum with your business’ visibility.
Now, the question is, who are you?
Ask yourself, what is your identity, what does your company stand for, and which crowd do you want to sell to? What sets you apart from other companies, and what personal flair can you bring into the messaging?
This is what’s known as your brand persona. It sounds really corporate – we get it. But once you enter the business world, you have to construct an identity for your potential clients and fellow businesses. Otherwise, who’s going to know who you are?
Branding is a huge, nebulous minefield to traverse. But let’s break it down and show you how you can define and create your brand persona.
What is a brand vs the branding of a company?
A brand is a name or a concept for a product or service that people can easily identify. But it’s not just something you purchase, it also feels alive and conjures up an image in your head. Everything you buy is a brand, like the Cheerios cereal you eat, the Adidas trainers you wear, or the Apple Mac you use. Just from that brand’s name, you know its purpose and can pick it out from an endless line-up of similar products because of its presentation and messaging.
What is a brand persona?
A brand persona is a representation of your company and product / services, that provides the market with associations about what your company stands for and brings clarity to the audiences which matter to you. It is your brand DNA.
A brand persona is also what separates different commodities from Granny Smith apples from IKEA lampshades. We all wear masks or personas. We don’t act the same way at an office meeting the way we do at a house party. It’s the same with branding, it has to fit the same audience as the one you’re selling to.
Why do you need a brand persona?
Because you’re not Serial Number 126489773430; you’re a wild creature that sashays down the runway with style. It’s the same with your company, which is made up of people with different values and interests. Therefore, you want your business to reach out to customers who need your services.
Your company also isn’t solely defined by what services you provide, just like people aren’t defined by their achievements. You could bake the best cupcakes or study at the most prestigious university, yet have the personality of a wooden plank. People need to emotionally connect with you and your brand, which you can do by showing off what makes you unique, warts and all.
What is a brand identity?
A brand identity reflects your company or product’s presentation. This can make up the following:
- Tone of voice. This conveys the tone of your brand’s messaging, whether it’s formal or informal, corporate or personal, fluffy or edgy.
- Visual elements. This is your visual identity which consists of typography, the fonts it uses, the colour scheme, the illustration style used in your logos or the style of layouts used for your website.
- Content. A lot of brands will activate a multi channel strategy to communicate content but it needs to be strategic and aligned to your brand DNA.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is who and what your ideal customer is, as well as what demographics they belong to. These factors can include their age, gender, economic status, which areas they’re based in, what career sectors they work in, characteristics and any weird habits such as sleepwalking nude at 3AM. Okay, scratch that last part, but you get the picture.
Examples of different types of brand personas
If you’re a cybersecurity firm that prides itself on reliable services and good quality security, then put your money where your mouth is. Nobody wants the services of a company whose promises fall through.
Every form of branding involves fakery, but some companies pride themselves on appearing more authentic than others. Take Google, for instance – they have to be honest and truthful because they provide truthful information. Their old slogan was ‘Don’t be evil’, which was a call for other companies to do better.
Harley-Davidson has built a rebellious and tough image around their motorcycles, down to their blunt slogan ‘Screw it, let’s ride’. Do you want to achieve the same effect with your business? Then imagine your brand stomping outdoors like Bear Grylls, eating snakes for breakfast, and make that your company’s image.
Not every company spends all its time paying taxes or doing the boring, adult things we have to do. Tesla exudes excitement, from their promises as an electric car company to their publicity stunts, including sending their car to space. If your brand goes against the grain and opens a whole new world up for people, which is especially true in tech, then own it!
Perhaps your company prides itself on the finer things in life. Apple has built a strong brand where all of their products are considered luxuries that innovate the computing world. Either way, imagine your brand persona sauntering through the chandelier-lit interiors of the fanciest bars in the world.
How do you create your brand persona?
Think about your heritage
What is the story behind your existence; why are you here and the reason for the brand being born.
Consider the competition
Nothing is created in a vacuum. Look at what your associates or rivals in similar fields are doing and ask yourself what to keep the same and what to change to set yourself apart from the competition.
Use adjectives that describe your persona
Spiffing! Exciting! Dry. These are all adjectives that potentially define your persona, so break out that dusty dictionary. Narrow it down to a few words that best describe your personality, whether it’s your company’s image or your attitude as its owner.
Draw the character
Imagine your brand persona as a character. Maybe your persona is a man in a nice three piece suit. Maybe it’s a superhero with a cape. Maybe it’s a cute pangolin mascot. Try doodling them, ask someone with a more artistic eye to draw them, or make cutouts out from old magazines.
Have a conversation with your persona
Chat with your persona over some coffee and get to know their fun side. Have a heart to heart with them and find out their deepest wishes and fears. Interrogate them in a dark, shady room and draw out their serious side.
Consistency is key. You stick with certain brands because they’re not only good, they’re reliable, and deliver on initial promises made throughout their history while adapting to enough changes that it still feels fresh.
You could insist that you’re the best in town and are beyond criticism. But by doing so, you stunt your growth as a company and close yourself off to change. If you feel an aspect of your branding isn’t working, get another pair of eyes on it. Ask a friend. Give strangers a survey and ask what their gut reaction is to your brand persona. Remember ultimately your brand is what people say about you not what you say about yourself.
Hopefully, this gives you a taste of how to create a consistent, striking and accurate brand persona.