Take a moment and think of your favorite company. Got it? Now think of three things that you love about them. Chances are one of them is an adjective. Maybe they’re exciting, smart, caring, or a number of other possibilities. But the thing is they embody a personality trait you admire or relate to. That right there is their brand persona and it’s the reason they’ve been making you love them.
What is a Brand Persona?
A brand persona is not a logo, tagline, or product — it’s a relationship your company has with its customers. A literary technique widely used to make a piece of literature interesting is personification. A brand persona does just this. Personifications lets writers give nonhuman things human characteristics. In business, we do the same thing. A brand persona is the human personality assigned to a company that allows us to feel a connection with it.
An obvious and effective ad campaign which illustrates the use of human personification in a brand are the Apple ads which featured Justin Long as a Mac and a less known actor as a PC. Apple does a great job of highlighting the traits we relate to and appreciate in a mac and dislike in PCs. If the company had not been able to identify the smart and hip characteristics of their company this piece of content would not have been possible.
But creating a brand persona does more than make a funny commercial. Ultimately, a brand persona does the following:
- Creates a positive emotional experience with a company
- Tells people who you are and what you do
- Gives people a reason to care about you
- Helps people relate to your company
- Lets people know you understand them
Why You Need a Persona for Content Marketing
Content marketing has the word “marketing” in it for a reason. All this content creation is not just to have a searcher land on your page. It’s much more than that. Once they land on your page, you need to draw them in, give them something, make them like you, and understand you. Content marketing is an extension of your brand through which to earn more customers.
This means you need to carefully choose content that reflects who you are. Because if it doesn’t, you’ll be sending the wrong message to your readers. Just like the words you speak tell others about who you are, so does the content your company puts on its blog. The topics you choose, images you pick, depth of writing, and even your word choice will tell a reader a vast amount about your brand.
Arrogant Bastard by Stone Brewing Company is a perfect example of a brand that lets their personality shine through every piece of content they produce — from the labels they put on their beer bottles to their website.
If you’ve never had the privilege of drinking an Arrogant Bastard Ale, the label reads “You’re Not Worthy.” It’s a slogan that embodies everything the name implies. And it doesn’t stop there. Here is a taste of what you read on the back of the bottle:
“This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory–maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal.”
See how the personality alone makes you want to drink their beer? Much better than saying “We’re a damn good beer, blah, blah, blah. Here’s three reasons we like our beer.” That statement is boring.
Now some of you may be saying, ok yeah, they have good marketing but I don’t see how that would translate to a site, blog, etc. Let me show you.
When you first visit the Arrogant Bastard site, they take everything they stated before and translate it into web content. Upon landing on their homepage you must agree to four things to enter, one is that you are “…not a fizzy yellow beer drinker here under false pretenses.” Great, right? Once you agree to their terms you are shown the definition of arrogance and quotes by some of history’s greatest “bastards” — all of which align with their marketing message.
Every piece of content on their site is carefully thought out.
While this may be more extreme than you wish to apply to your site, it’s an obvious example to highlight my point: your content marketing must highlight who you are.
That can be as simple as your word choice (i.e. “dumbing” it down for newbies on a basics of investing site), picking images that show who you are (i.e. sarcastic or serious?), or a number of other ways to show you’re not just some run of the mill brand. Show why a customer would want to be around you.
Types of Brand Personalities
In The Hero and The Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson, they identify common archetypes found in brands. They split the archetypes between two dimensions: group-oriented vs self-focused, and order vs change.
Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is an example of a rebel company, whereas Wheaties would be seen as a champion.
Now you give it a try: where do you see the Dos Equis brand falling on the chart?
Choosing a Brand Personality
Choosing a brand personality is as simple as first picking out some of the adjectives that describe your company. Are you analytical, artistic, stable, changing, etc?
Here is a list of some words to get you thinking. Pick the ones that you feel reflect your company or think up some on your own.
Proud, Rebellious, Warrior, Adventurous, Rebellious, Athletic, Calming, Sexy, Friendly, Sophisticated, Helpful, Innovative, Traditional, Intimate, Visionary, Organized, Serious, Soulful, Eccentric, Conservative
Another process is to follow this chart by Jennifer Aaker. Following it can help you find some traits to better describe your brand.
Ultimately, nothing is better than sitting down with your team to dig deep into who you see yourselves as, in just the same way you would when searching to find your own self.
Maximizing the Brand & Content Connection
Once you’ve figured out your brand’s personality, you now need to make content which reflects these traits. We mentioned a few methods earlier that we’ll cover once more. Whenever you’re about to create a piece of content, you should follow this checklist and ask yourself:
- If my brand was a living, breathing person, would they choose to write about this topic?
- Does the word choice connect with who my brand would want to hang out with?
- Are the images I’ve chosen congruent with my brand’s personality?
- Is the length I’ve chosen what I view my brand as writing?
If you do this, you’ll be on your way to creating content that stands out, shows who you are, and creates better relationships with your customers.