It’s not enough to identify your ethos, target customer profile and position your brand. You must also consider how your brand comes to life.
Is it loud, energetic and the life of the party? Is it steady, dependable and trustworthy? Like people, every brand shows up in the world in a unique way. Your brand’s persona is what makes it come alive for your prospective customers, not to mention your investors, partners, and current and potential employees. While your core values articulate the underlying beliefs that drive your brand’s behavior, your persona is how your brand actually behaves. It’s how your brand thinks, feels, speaks and shows up in the world.
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The process of establishing your brand’s persona requires some deep thought and consideration. It’s a level of self-reflection that actually feels a little like therapy, and it’s worth putting the work in. Once you articulate the attributes that contribute to your brand’s persona and the primary elements of your brand’s voice, you’ll have a blueprint for every single writer, marketer, product team and designer who touches your brand from now on.
The persona section of your brand book is the guide that allows your entire team to consistently be “on-brand.” That consistency is what ultimately builds brand loyalty and, ultimately, brand equity.
How to approach the persona section of your brand book
Before attempting to piece together the personality and voice of your brand, you must first have a firm grasp of your company’s ethos, your target customers and the way your brand is positioned. Once these foundational elements of your brand are in place, it’s a good time to gather your brand-building team to walk through the persona exercises below.
The quickest way to immediately put your brand personality and voice into action is to do a full content audit of all your channels and assets.
For early-stage companies, a brand’s persona is often a direct reflection of the founder or founding team. For this reason, be sure the founding team is participating in this exercise. You may also find it useful to bring in the people that create content (like the people driving your social channels) or interact most directly with your customers (like your customer support lead). Once this group is assembled, hand out a stack of ~100 blank index cards and a black Sharpie to each participant and run through the following exercise.
Exercise: Let your participants know that you’re going to ask a series of questions, and after each question you will give them a minute to write down the attributes that come to mind. Explain that attributes are words or very short phrases that describe a characteristic — good or bad (such as “trustworthy” or “brave” or “cares a lot”). They should write down just one attribute per card.
Step 1: Ask each question below, pausing after each for a couple of minutes so participants can ideate three to five attributes for each.
How would you like your target customer to describe your brand?
- If you were accepting a major award or honor, how would you like the person introducing your brand to describe you to the audience?
- If your brand had an online dating profile, what attributes should it highlight?
- Think about the person you most admire: How would you want them to describe your brand?
- If your brand were a person you met at a party, how would you describe them?