Our fearless founder is still chalking up zzzz’s in New York – that’s if she’s not too excited to sleep. Let’s wish Julie luck as she heads off to the Stevie Awards for Women In Business, tonight!! Julie is a finalist amongst so many inspiring women; we can’t wait to hear about the winners.
In the meantime here’s a lovely post from Natasha Cubitt (Managing Director) of The Handpicked Collection to inspire you to do great things with your business – she shows you how to:-
GIVE YOUR BUSINESS A PERSONALITY!
It’s a crowded world out there. And I’m not just talking about the M25 on a Friday night or Brighton beach on a hot summer Saturday. I’m referring to the world of business and brands. Lucky consumers now have endless choice when it comes to how and with whom they spend their money, but it makes for a difficult time for us brand owners. These days, we need to work as hard to capture and retain our customer’s attention as we do on developing the product we sell.
And not only has the marketplace burgeoned, but also the media by which companies can communicate, such is the need for new and ever more creative ways of finding and holding onto customers. A marketing plan is no longer simply advertising, PR and some direct mail. Now we have social, viral, MGM, search, email, affiliate, mobile…and on.
I’d like to propose taking a step back from this frantic attention grabbing and look at what will really help to make one’s company stand out amongst all this ‘noise’ – that is, building a brand with personality that people notice and can’t help but connect with. In life, the people we find appealing aren’t the ones who talk the most, dance the fastest, sing the loudest; they’re the ones who capture your imagination through their confidence in who they are and how that exudes from whatever they do.
5 TIPS to give your company a magnetic personality –
which will lead to your customers becoming loyal advocates of your brand and product.
1. Know your audience
Firstly, it might be worth taking a step back to make sure you and your team know your customer inside out. It’s quite possible that your customer profile may have changed over time and they might differ from the audience you originally set out to target. Create a ‘mood board’ for each of the generic types of customer that you have and display them prominently for your team to see. Show visual imagery for the things they like doing, the holidays they take, the food they eat, the other brands they shop with, the publications they read, even the pets they have. This very simple visual reminder will serve as business sat nav – to make sure whatever you do is on track for your customers.
Now do the same for your brand – use imagery to build up the picture of what you stand for – consistent with your brand values. Building this mood board and making sure that there aren’t gaps between this and your customer boards will prove clear synergy and prevent you from going off track. When considering a new tack, you can look at your boards and quickly establish whether the initiative makes sense to your brand’s personality and your customer’s expectation of it.
2. Language is key
Once this is done, you can confidently address your literal tone of voice and know that it’s right for the people you are targeting and the service or products you offer. Your tone of voice should refer back to your brand values and from this the style of language can be defined. Consistency of tone of voice is as important as the visual elements of your brand and it will engender trust with your customers. Create a style guide for your tone of voice considering the register, vocabulary and grammar of how your brand should sound. A key consideration in this is humour – don’t be afraid to use it if it’s appropriate but only if you’re comfortable it comes naturally. There’s a big trend currently for a very informal tone of voice and off-beat messaging, but nothing is worse than this badly executed. Nobody likes a try-hard.
3. People like people
My third point is to make the most of the ready-made personality within your brand. That is your founders or team members. Human interest is a concept often forgotten in the corporate world but customers being able to relate to people within a business will help them connect that much more strongly. It needn’t be on the level of Richard Branson and Virgin but that’s a good example of how powerful it can be. I think this is particularly relevant for brands that are trading solely online. Customers can easily have a completely anonymous experience from start to finish while shopping online and walk away without a shred of emotional connection to your company. To counteract this, take decent photographs of your founders and team and have them visible, use real signatures of real people and talk to them directly in the tone that is your own. Don’t ever use ‘stock’ photographs of people: this almost certainly says, ‘our company is run by robots!’
4. Change should be evolving
I’ve referred to consistency but this point is about understanding how to use change to good effect to build personality. To extend the human analogy, when I refer to change I mean, get a new hair style or update your outfit for a new season. I don’t mean shave your head, get a facelift and change your whole wardrobe in one fell swoop. Keep the core things consistent – the presentation of your logo, your tone of voice – and play with the rest to keep things interesting. Think of your branding and tone as your own face and voice – your friends and family would never want these to change fundamentally – but they enjoy seeing you with a new fringe or wearing a daring coloured lipstick from time to time. Look at the most successful brands – Penguin, Heinz and yes Coca Cola – they are still as recognisable decades after their creation even with hundreds of different advertising campaigns as they’ve evolved.
5. Keep control
As I mentioned earlier, the challenge for today’s marketer is keeping track of one’s brand personality across the myriad of channels available to talk to customers. But this, my final point, is of vital importance. Don’t let an intern who doesn’t understand your brand run your Twitter and Facebook accounts and make sure every written piece of communication goes through an individual or a team who know your brand objectives and can ensure consistency. It is scary how quickly a brand can dilute its message through a lack of consistency and even scarier how long it can take to rebuild this.
To conclude, we can refer to a man who knew an awful lot more about brand than I do. David Ogilvy sums up nicely when he said “You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.” In business as in the rest of life, it all comes back to human emotion. If we keep this in mind while applying our strategy to define and maintain our brands’ personalities, we can make sure our company doesn’t just stand out but takes a confident leap outside of the crowd.