Humanizing Your Brand - Building a Brand Persona
What do Jake from StateFarm, Flo, and the Most Interesting Man in the World all have in common? Well, besides having great hair, they are each iconic brand personas that play an important role in the reputation and marketing successes of their companies. While there is no Frankenstein formula for creating a character with more name recognition than your brand’s CEO, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to the personality, development, and overall function of your very own brand persona! So, without further ado, let’s see why a gecko with a Cockney accent lives rent-free in our heads (you’re welcome, landlords) and why something like this could help your brand stick in the minds of your customers.
What is a Brand Persona?
At its most basic, a brand persona is the spokesperson for your company. It embodies all of those attributes, values, and behaviors that are unique to your brand’s identity and shares them in an imaginative way. However, companies don’t always do this with their marketing. For example, you may find a brand that’s more company-centric in its messaging, making use of a CEO or employee to speak “at” you from the business’s perspective. Or they may be more consumer-focused, using 3rd party endorsements or testimonials to share why people like you believe in their product or service.
Brand personas, on the other hand, act almost like another category of representation, making use of humor and entertainment to communicate the true virtues of the brand. While the company or consumer approach could seem less risky, you stand to lose some “authenticity” and trust. However, a brand persona has the unique ability to bridge the gap between selling a product and relatability. This is done by creating attention-grabbing, recognizable characters and tropes that make a memorable impact.
The Power of a Brand Persona in Marketing
Nowadays, brand personas have become synonymous with humanoid characters and “witty” humor—whether it be a maniac of mayhem or a cop-esc duo featuring aviators and emu feathers. While the comedy may be hit or miss, there is no denying that each has a strong personality that differentiates the brand from its competitors. Compared to CEO or consumer testimonials, this type of messaging allows more freedom. You can write the script (much as you would for your CEO), and you’re allowed to say a few things that a CEO might not say—you can speak in the language of your customer and show some vulnerability and “humanness” to showcase the business while creating a connection with consumers.
This can be extremely important for brands seeking loyalty in crowded markets. Take almost any insurance brand for example. In such a dry industry where there is really very little differentiation, you have some of the most recognizable and effective brand personas. Each one feels unique in their own way, and their out-of-the-box concepts seem almost excusable thanks to their entertainment value. The marketer can control brand personas by writing their words and placing them in situations that emphasize the business and its brand values.
Incorporating a Brand Persona into Your Marketing Strategy
When developing a brand persona, the most important thing is to create one that aligns with your brand values and resonates with your target audience. By understanding your audience’s needs, you can begin to form a backstory for your persona to help humanize your brand and align it with your target’s preferences and behaviors. Once you expand upon that idea and have a solid grasp on who your new “spokesperson” is, the fun part begins: placing them in entertaining situations to display your brand’s message and resonate with your audience. Just remember to maintain consistency across all of your marketing touchpoints (video, static ads, on-site banner stands, or tradeshow experiences) to create that cohesive experience while reinforcing those brand values.
We did this when creating an excitable brand character named “Joyce” for Georgia Banking Company. She appeared when she misheard GBC’s CEO, Bartow Morgan, talking about their mission to be “The Bank of Choice.” She thought they were bringing customer service to a whole new level by calling it “The Bank of JOYCE.” Her bubbly, non-assuming personality plays perfectly alongside the calculated and measured delivery of the “straight man” CEO (the qualities you want your bank CEO to have, by the way). In our campaign, Joyce runs into and interacts with Bartow all over the community—from a local brewery to the grocery store—making a true connection between the expertise of this community bank and the approachability and ease with which you may bank with them.
A well-developed brand persona can humanize your brand in varied and sometimes even far-reaching ways—we’re looking at you, Mr. Peanut. But, if done right, you can build unique trust and a following among your consumers, solidifying your brand position even further.
Just be sure your company C-Suite is okay with getting outshined by a comical caveman, lovable lizard, or dopey doughboy!
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