Great branding impacts your entire brand presence, including everything you say and do. Your brand’s personality is an important — and very visible — part of your that presence that builds favor and trust with your customers. These 4 principles for discovering your brand personality will help you as you nail down your own unique, authentic brand personality.
Good Shortcuts and Bad
Shortcuts can be good. As a kid, I was always looking for a shortcut to the store, so I wouldn’t have to walk around the block. But branding is a process. And when you don’t understand the process, the shortcuts you choose could actually waste your time and money, at best. And at worst, they could sabotage the whole process, stealing punch and conviction from your results and from the buy-in you’d otherwise get from your stakeholders.
The good news is that most of us have a head start. We see our brand personality traits peeking out every once in a while. But just as soon as that happens, we worry we’ll be criticized for being quirky. “Stakeholders want to see responsibility,” we say. And then part of our unique personality dies.
But not permanently. It turns out that when this happens, your personality is only mostly dead (thanks, Miracle Max). And a solid process for discovering your brand personality can bring that personality back to life and organize your traits in such a way as to make them usable. Even powerful.
Our Goal: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid and Make You Look Smart With Your Brand Personality Traits
In fact, it’s more than that. Because these are just some basic, but high-leverage, rules to make you smarter about branding.
Why Do You Care?
We almost forgot the most important question. For some of you, this is just a refresher. But have you ever worked with someone who consistently communicated confusingly and it made you not trust them? You could tell they didn’t have the character to really follow through on what they were promising. You don’t want to be that brand.
Then there are those people who seem solid and trustworthy, but they don’t seem to really be that savvy with their communication. They might even have a ton of experience in their field, but they just don’t seem to quite understand you. They struggle to sort out what you know and don’t know and how you think. Although it is a much better situation than dealing with people who lack morals, it’s not ideal. It’s especially not ideal for a consultative relationship where you’ll need to communicate and develop a sense of understanding so that you’re not constantly clarifying things for them. Because that’s tedious and takes forever.
You don’t just want competent people; you want people who get you and who you get in return. Your personality is what tells potential customers that you are competent and understand them.
Brand personality pays dividends.
But is it Really Relevant in B2B?
We might think brand personality matters more for Business-to-Consumer brands. And it definitely has its own character – B2C brands can get away with more because of sheer numbers in their advertising. Their niches can be smaller in proportion to the total world population, while still being large enough to sustain a business. You can see how a B2C company can hyper-specialize with a sense of humor that can gain a cult following. This is a little harder to do in B2B. But it is possible.
In fact, there are some brands that have built a following not because they just happen to be in the right place at the right time, but because they really know who they’re talking to and they’re not afraid to talk in their language.
For instance, in the defense industry, they might talk about things like “lethality.” But you might not talk in such frank and blunt terms if you’re talking to a general audience of business people who are more concerned with developing cultures of empathy. But whatever industry you find yourself in you know how your particular audience talks and whether or not you fit in with them.
4 Pitfalls of Brand Personality Trait Building
So let’s look at the pitfalls in the process to see if we can glean a few insights to help us make sense of the process and what it’s for. So the question is: what do people do to mess up their brand when it comes to personality?
- The propensity to take shortcuts
- Wishful thinking
Let’s look at each one.
You are not consistent. This means that you are not consistently showing these personality traits. When Resound creates personality traits for a client, we cover a few bases, so you can speak consistently and with boldness by defining how you act during different situations.
We write guides for our clients that cover areas like tone, voice, and mood. This shows people (employees and contractors, both present-day and future) how to create on behalf of your brand in a way that’s consistent, but appropriate for the situation.
The takeaway: Consistency comes from defining your values to a sufficient level of detail, making your brand decisions followable and scalable.
2. You’re Impatient with the Rollout
You haven’t shown people what to expect; you haven’t let them get to know you. We’ve all been in those situations where we first meet someone and they become a really good friend and someone we can joke with in a way that we can’t with other people. But that didn’t happen on the first day. At first, they had to get to know you and you had to get to know them. You don’t want to offend them by being too forward right off the bat. You want them to get to know you, laugh at their jokes, they laugh at your jokes, and pretty soon you have a connection. And then you can say whatever you want. But not at first. This is a process. You have to let people get to know you, so they properly interpret it when you do something daring.
The takeaway: Roll things out with clarity, but with an increasing level of boldness, so both your employees and other stakeholders, can keep up with your style.
3. Taking Shortcuts, i.e. Your Process Lacks Organization and Completeness
You have not gone through a formal process. A formal process gives you quick results while at the same time allowing you to vet all your ideas and all your thoughts about your personality. At Resound, we guide you through the process with your team. But what if you’re someone who wants to do it themselves? Make sure to download our brand personality worksheet and follow the process. Because a process will give you the proper amount of circumspection and will help you avoid backtracking when you start creating things.
The takeaway: Give yourself the necessary time to execute your discovery process. It doesn’t have to take forever, but stay present and engaged when you’re in the process.
4. Wishful Thinking: Your Traits Don’t Fit
You choose personality traits that don’t fit you. This is like the last one, where are you start to choose personality traits based on things that you like rather than things that fit you. This is why it’s important to have a team around you of people who are not exactly of the same personality as you. If you’ve surrounded yourself with people who think just like you, you’re less likely to notice when you choose a personality trait you like rather than one that you actually exhibit and can embody.
The takeaway: Get the right people involved, so you don’t create a brand around yourself, rather than your company, because there’s a difference.
It’s Time to Look (and Sound) Smart With Your Brand Personality Traits
Branding is essentially everything people know and believe about your company. And it’s in your power to make sense of it all for them. But it’s a process. One which, if you understand it, can be a powerful tool in your hand as you discover and define your brand for a world out there that’s hungry for your point of view. They want (and need) to see your services and products delivered in a way that only you can.
If you can just bring your personality traits out to play.
If you want help discovering your unique, authentic, and compelling personality traits, our free Brand Personality video class may be a great place to start. Or jump ahead of the class and grab our Personality Traits Worksheet and start digging deep with your team.