Does your brand have a brand personality?

Does your brand have a brand personality?

Screenshot of Paul Newman from the trailer for...

Having a brand personality is important because brands are an emotional connection between your products and services and your target audience, and we now know that this emotional connection is critical in attracting and retaining customers.

Having a brand with a personality allows marketers to deliver communication that stands out from the “sameness” of their category and connect much faster and on a deeper level with prospects and customers. People can relate to things they feel have a personality, especially one which they can identify with. From the cars we drive to the pets we choose, we are subconsciously guided by our reflection in them.

Brand personality is usually a function of the following:
1. Personality and values of the founder
2. Personality and values of the current leader
3. Personality and values of the company’s most loyal customers.

Brand Personality is a critical input into the design of the overall brand, especially the:
– Brand Name,
– Brand Story, and
– Positioning Statement.
Brand Personality should flow right through the company and be positively reflected in the customer brand experience.

To work out your brand personality, you can engage the help of your best customers, colleagues, employees, suppliers and even friends, asking them to describe firstly your personality in 5-8 adjectives and then do the same for your company or organisation. In most cases you will find that they align. Alternatively there maybe a good reasons why you do not want them to align. What ever the outcome it will assist you greatly in projecting the right perceptions for you business to its target market.

The brand personality is the BRAND!
Here are a few famous examples: Virgin, Body Shop, Walmart, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Beckham Paul Newman’s Own, and most fashion designer label brands are all intrinsically linked to the personalities of the founders.

Although this has worked tremendously well for these and other businesses naming your brand new “baby” after yourself has many drawbacks, especially if you don’t have the name recognition of a super star athlete and in general naming the brand has a number of criteria that you need to consider a strategic process you should follow.

Here are a number of brand personality examples that have been created through focusing on a specific niche; great brand naming that reflects these personality traits:
– Geek Squad is both a consumer as well a USA SME technology company owned by the giant Best Buy retail group, assisting customers with everything from installing in home theatres to computer networking in their businesses. It’s great name and personality that permeates the company has now been copied in various formats all over the world yet none of the copycats can dream of the same success.

– Mr. Mutual Fund – Vern Hayden is one of the top financial planners in the USA specialising in mutual funds (superannuation). He got to be where he is by focusing and being the greatest expert on his area of expertise – mutual funds! However he chose a more traditional name for his company and decided not to link it directly to his personal brand of Mr. Mutual Fund.

– Ms. Megabyte and Gadget Guy are 2 independent Australian technology experts who entertain and inform Australians by providing reviews and demystifying technology. Everyone knows who they are, yet few would know of Yvonne Adele and Peter Blasina. This illustrates the power of correctly branding your business.

– Bounce Back Fast is a consultancy and training organisation that focuses on building resilience to pressure and stress.
– The Productivity Queen needs no explanation,
– Powerful Points is a leading Powerpoint training organisation that counts some of Australia’s top companies and their C-suite executives as it’s clients

When we look at most of the examples above, it quickly becomes apparent that these sometimes “one man bands” have a number of things in common:
1. They are specialists, they are “the only” in their market
2. They are easy to remember
3. They are easy to promote because they have a great name, a personality and a STORY to tell
4. They are famous amongst their intended target audience.

The next entry will cover the importance of telling your brand story!

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Marketing Communications, rather than Promotion

Marketing is synonymous with Promotion, because 80% of the marketing effort is spent on Promotion.
Promotion is usually the only element of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process, Physical Environment) that marketers can control and constantly fine tune. Price changes are quick to implement and analyze and rarely change frequently. Changes to actual products or services, their distribution channels, processes or people tend to be minor, so the focus as it rightly should be is promotion.

Although some marketers have control over product design and pricing, distribution, etc, they are or should be, the closest to understanding and correctly satisfying customer needs, they are often restricted by the parameters of the marketplace; the cost of inputs, market demand, etc, so promotion becomes the key tool in attracting customers and fighting off the competition.

Promotion, until fairly recently was a one way monologue, well suited to marketing’s focus on Products. But with the increasing focus on the Customer Experience, a dialogue is today a critical requirement for every business. Yet most marketers, despite the advances in technology, in both small and big companies are struggling with holding this dialogue, making it meaningful or even capturing and correctly interpreting what the customers are saying. Adopting new and complex technology was never going to be easy. Coupled with the consumer’s newly acquired powers of Social Media, the customer is really King!

Hence you can see that Marketing is all about Communication, which is 2-way rather than Promotion which tended to be 1-way. Marketers are trying to stop “talking at” the customer and trying to “converse with them” and this is not easy, putting marketers and business owners under real pressure!

Communication just like Promotion, is still one of the greatest costs of “doing business”, so it is vitally important to get your strategy right before blowing your entire budget, communicating the wrong message, to the wrong people, at the wrong time…

Communication is a science, with it’s own principles. To get the right message in front of the right people, at the right time, and expose them to the message enough times to elicit a favorable response and then interpret that response and act correctly upon it, we need to learn the principles of effective communication.

A Web Marketing Tip from Experts that ends up costing you money and time by lulling you into a false sense of security…

Everybody wants to discover the “silver bullet”, THE solution to all their problems, whether it is to building a profitable online business or to losing weight! That’s the sort of society we live in – Quick Fix, Pop a Pill, so it is no wonder that the “expert marketers” serve up solutions that the market seems to be demanding!

Unfortunately, just like weight loss, developing a profitable online presence in form of a website or blog is not as easy as popping a pill!

During the last week I have come across 2 articles:

  1. Building buzz: low-cost and no-cost marketing tips
  2. Small businesses yet to befriend social media

that implied just such a piece of dangerous advice. The majority of the advice in the article was sound, however did raise the whole question of D.I.Y Marketing v getting a Professional Marketing solution delivered by the appropriate experts. This is a whole different topic and we have written a whole White Paper about it, which you can download here.

But this discussion focuses on the one piece of advice that is potentially “unhealthy for your business”. I am talking about CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS or CMS.

Here are the extracts from the offending articles and their authors:

  1. 1. Marketer Wendy Kenney, 43, is the author of Build Buzz for Your Business with Low Cost and No Cost Marketing Tips

Below Wendy Kenney answers the reporter’s question: “What virtual tool would you recommend?”

This might surprise you, but I recommend getting a WordPress site above anything else, given that 40 per cent of business owners still do not have an internet presence.  With the invention of the platform, any business can have a nice looking website for free – and no programming experience necessary. And for just a small investment, they can have their own customised domain for their website, about US$24 to purchase and then to have WordPress assign the domain to your site.

Wendy, please email me some of these “great looking websites” designed, built, promoted and maintained by your clients, and I’ll critique them for free for your clients or readers of your book!

  1. Ed Dale is one of Australia’s best known web evangelists. In 2005 he sold dozens of his own websites for $5 million. His latest venture, Melbourne-based 30DC Inc, recently listed in the US as a publicly traded over-the-counter (OTC) stock. It’s best known for The Challenge (formerly The 30 Day Challenge), a free online course aimed at people looking to set up businesses on the net. More than 150,000 people have taken the training.

Let’s be realistic, I’m sure your educational program is fantastic and value for money, but how many of your graduates have replicated your success Ed? Maybe more would be successful f they didn’t try to do it themselves, but used their knowledge to engage and manage the right suppliers!

Here Ed Dale provides his advice and makes some very interesting observations that fly in the face of his own advice:

“Small business in Australia has still not grappled with what happened online in 2002, let alone 2011,” he says supporting the reporter’s earlier point of:

  • Surveys find some owners are intimidated by the technology and others just don’t have the time. A significant minority simply can’t see the point of it all.

Wendy also says that 40% of business owners still do not have internet presence and an article in June this year states that 75% of all SME’s still don’t have their own website!

Here’s Ed’s offending statement in his interview:

Expensive web design and confusing technology are no longer barriers to entry. Dale believes a simple WordPress blog and Facebook page is enough for most businesses. “Honestly, a surly teenager can handle the technology requirements of a small business in 2011,” he says. “If they can pimp a Facebook page they are already over-qualified.”

No one could ever argue that a professional online presence is absolutely critical today for any business or that the actual technology costs a lot less, but why would Ed and Wendy “overpromise” so much to their “fans”?

Are they simply delusional and out of touch with the market, like our politicians or are they trying to peddle more of their books and courses?

The research shows that the average SME business owner is scared of the technology, is extremely time poor and hence has no time to learn the technology, no matter how simple the WISYWIG interface has become! Finally and more importantly most simply don’t want to!

Let me explain. Most if not all of us go into business because we love to do what we do – Provide financial advice, solve legal disputes, design and build houses, treat pets, manufacture, engineer and so it goes. All of a sudden the new business owner has to wear, according to the CPA Australia up to 11 different hats and most of us are only good at successfully wearing 2 – 4 of those hats! Yet Wendy and Dale want to “put another hat” on our entrepreneur and make him or her do something that they have no passion for! Here are some statistics and observations from my own experience in providing marketing advice over the last 5 years to the SME market and consulting to hundreds of business owners:

  1. Most business people are attracted to the idea of “being able to update and manage their own website”. 95% of them never do! I mean it, I have looked at 1000’s of websites and most of them have a CMS, that is gathering dust, with the average site’s update being 6 months ago or more! Forget about the quality of the design and copywriting!
  2. The CMS, if anything is of benefit to the Web Designers and Web Marketers – it does make their jobs easier.
  3. A 16 year old may be able to “pimp a Facebook page” but this does not make them an online marketing expert! In fact, web designers and “web marketing specialists” can not deliver the entire solution see our Success Online Diagram because they have no expertise in the other half of the solution – marketing strategy which eventually leads to quality content.
  4. The 5% of business owners who are capable of at least successfully maintaining their website in WordPress, have a Facebook page, or use some other type of CMS, still face the same challenge as the web designers and 16 year olds – they need a sound marketing strategy and the ability to creatively express it in words that sell – copywriting! Something else most don’t have the time, passion or skills for!

Stark Reality guidelines for marketing success online:

  1. Stick to what you know and have a passion for, the thing that made you go out and start your business in the first place.
  2. Learn enough about the “other hats” areas of business to keep your business partners / suppliers accountable. Know what questions to ask and how to check the answers!
  3. Then outsource as much as you can afford to so as to focus on what you do best.
  4. “Business is about 2 things and 2 things only, Marketing and Innovation” – Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management. So focus your “education” on general marketing principles: satisfying their needs in new and interesting ways, delivering value that makes them say “WOW” and refer you more business.
  5. Leave the task of marketing communication to the experts, marketing consultancies, advertising agencies, design specialists, promotional specialists, PR specialists, etc
  6. Even if you are passionate about learning and / or already have the technical skills to Do It Yourself, weigh up the pros and cons of your time versus paying the professionals! It is much harder to design, write for yourself than it is for someone else as you are “too close” to your own business.
  7. If you do not have between $7,000-$15,000 to “get started” with your marketing strategy and professional online presence what the hell are you doing quitting your day job?

Just like weight loss, success online means doing some hard work, probably getting a personal trainer and watching what advice you consume!