Breathing Personality Into Your Branding Strategy

by Guy Asher · 2 comments

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This is a guest post courtesy of Guy Asher.

Ya’ll know I’m all about injecting a little personality into your copy and messaging, and using personality to help your brand stand a step above the rest. 

Guy here has some interesting tips on ways you can do just that. Got ideas of your own? Feel free to share in the comments below this post. 

You probably describe your business a certain way. Maybe you believe you’re honest, respectful, caring, and friendly.

Do your customers see you that way?

Believe it or not, most consumers see businesses as greedy.

They also see businesses as boring, ruthless, uncaring, cold, and untrustworthy. The bigger the business, the worse the perception.

Here’s how to breathe personality into a cold, lifeless corpse.

Choose A Mascot

Think about brands that have a mascot. How are they perceived?

In general, you perceive them as being an extension of said mascot, don’t you?

Or at least you feel like the company understands you – like there’s a face associated with the company, even if it’s an animal.

Think about Geico for a moment. The company has worked hard to build its personality on the back of a gecko and a caveman.

The gecko is a bit cheeky but he’s relatable.

The caveman is how we all feel sometimes – a bit dumb when it comes to insurance matters.

When we think about Geico, we think of these characters, instead of some bald guy with a bad comb-over sitting at a desk punching numbers into a calculator.

It’s a friendly image and creates a personality for the company. MetLife is another example. Most of us grew up with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. It’s easy to relate to that character.

When we think MetLife, all we see is Snoopy – the adventurous and precocious dog who always looks out for his friends.

Try to do this kind of thing with your own brand. Create a personality with characters or people that your target market can relate to.

Be Audacious

Sometimes you have to be audacious.

If you’re in an industry that’s traditionally boring, you’re going to have to shake things up a little.

Take a cue from brands like “Big Ass Fans.”

That company changed its name in 1999 from HVLS Fan Co. The old name was really boring. The new name landed them in some hot water with advertising partners.

A few companies even refused to display their advertising.

However, what they gained was a loyal following and the personality of a company that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously while somehow managing to produce some of the best fans in the world – winning major awards for quality almost every year since 2009.

Become An Archetype

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

You can use an existing archetype. Archetypes are symbols that people easily associate with other things.

For example, Batman, the comic book superhero, is an archetype hero that stands for justice – yet he’s a “dark” hero, a vigilante operating above the law.

He brings criminals to justice in a lawless world.In the business world, companies like Harley Davidson and Virgin are rebel archetypes.

What personality would you want to adopt?

In their book The Hero and The Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson describe various types of personalities or archetypes that companies often assume.

These include “sage,” “explorer,” “champion,” “jester,” “everyman,” “caregiver,” “ruler,” “creator,” and “innocent,” among others.

Celebrity Business Personalities

If your company was a celebrity, what celebrity would it be?

Maybe you would be adventurous like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. Perhaps you would be generous and protective like Oprah Winfrey. Maybe you’re witty and ungodly intelligent, like Robert Downey Jr. in Ironman.

Choosing a celebrity, and then building a brand around it, might seem like a totally unintuitive and risky proposition. However, many otherwise conservative companies have already done it and reaped the rewards.

Example: The Financial Brand.

Another example: One Nevada Credit Union.

You might expect a financial institution based out of Nevada to pull something off like that – it’s sort of a rebellious state and all.

However, don’t discount the idea. Controversy creates cash. If you take on an edgy celebrity persona, it might just pay off.

Animal Style

No, this isn’t about In-N-Out Burger’s secret menu.

It’s about adopting the personality of your favorite animal. If your organization was an animal, what kind of animal would it be?

Would it be courageous and strong like a lion? Would it be fast like a leopard? Would you be proud as an eagle? Are you tenacious like a badger?

Choose an animal you think best represents your company. Then, adopt the personality type for that animal. Resist the urge to “play it safe.”

Safe never builds loyalty.

It only caters to the middle of the road.

You might get some customers, and you won’t offend anyone. But you won’t “wow” anyone either.

You’ll be forgettable. Don’t be forgettable.

Over to You

Have you used any of the above methods in your own branding shenanigans? Did they work for you? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 

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