We build relationships with people for a variety of reasons:
- Because they're fun to be around
- Because they have common interests
- Because they're great conversationalists
- Because we can learn something from them
- Because we're trying to leverage them in some way to progress our own agenda
- Because they're good looking (I would hope this isn't the case for all your friends)
- Sometimes because we actually like them
But all that aside, the most compelling reason why we're attracted to people in this sense is because of their personalities. And when it comes to building relationships with brands, it's really not all that different.
When we think about the most recognizable brands in the world, the vast majority can be described as using human personality traits in their efforts. These brands have gone to a lot of trouble to determine the type of brand personality they want to assume and exhibit that personality to their audiences.
Here are just a few examples:
Lifestyle brand Thrillist uses humor to relate to their Millennial audience:
Cosmetics store Sephora takes on a informative and educational tone to build authority:
Sporting label Adidas uses healthy/inspirational messaging to motivate their audience:
Personal care brand Dove is famous for their purist messaging that advocates inner beauty:
These brands may use a variety of tactics to engage with their audiences on a more personal level, but the common denominator is that they take on human personality traits within their communications. Keep in mind that this isn't restricted to social media messaging, it's something that you can do with virtually any content that your brand produces.
Of course, results of enhancing brand personality will vary depending on what industry your business operates in. For example, creating personality will probably have a much more profound effect on a women's cosmetics brand when compared to an oil and gas shipping accessories manufacturer, so keep your audience in mind.
Why is Brand Personality Good for Business?
There's no question that brand personality is good for business - but why is it that we often make purchase decisions based on brand personality, as opposed to other factors like product quality or price?
It might not make a lot of sense, but we do, in fact, attribute value to a brand's personality.
Studies show that there's a positive relationship between a brand's distinct, self-expressive value and how well consumers will evaluate the attractiveness of their brand personality. It's also known that the attractiveness of a brand's personality significantly affects word-of-mouth advocacy.
So essentially, the more attractive your brand personality is, the more customers will recommend your products/services to their friends, families, and associates.
"Customers' attitudes and behaviors towards the brand will reflect in brand personality, which may affect on consumer tendency in connection with the brand and ultimately affect purchase likelihood." - HR Mars
Apart from that, here are some other reasons why brand personality is good for business:
- It sets the tone for your brand's communication.
- It helps build sustained relationships with your customers and audiences by forming an emotional attachment to your brand.
- It communicates the positive traits of your brand.
- It differentiates your brand from your competitors.
Whether they admit it or not, a person's connection to your brand will be driven, at least in part, by what they feel about your brand. So when you're thinking about ways to strengthen your brand, personality cannot be ignored.
How to Inject Personality into Your Brand's Content
Now that we've established the importance of brand personality, and how it can ultimately influence purchase behavior and brand equity, here are some tips on what you can do to enhance your brand's personality and make a lasting impression on your target audience:
1. Tell a story
Stories have a universal power to take simple words and transform them into concepts, allowing them to take on a life of their own. As a content marketer, harnessing the power of storytelling can really help capture your audience's attention and strike an emotional chord, which is unparalleled when it comes to forming bonds and building strong customer relationships.
One of the greatest examples of effective brand storytelling comes from action camera manufacturer GoPro:
The brand started off producing cameras for surfing, but it's since become an industry name synonymous with virtually every individual associated with extreme sport or adventure travel.
2. Take on a particular point of view
Don't take this the wrong way - I'm not saying that brands should be pushy or aggressive in their tone. But you really need to believe in your content.
This goes for whatever you're producing - whether it's an instructional blog about how to increase the fruit-bearing capabilities of your garden, a social media post about Donald Trump's most recent tirade, or anything else really, as long as it has your brand's name on it.
This brings to mind Tic Tac USA's response to Donald Trump using their name in a video showing a lewd conversation about women between the President-elect and TV personality Billy Bush.
This particular post received an enormous amount of engagement, and though it probably wasn't a PR stunt, it got Tic Tac USA plenty of exposure that it wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
Let's face it, people love to hear about the opinions of others. But keep in mind that your content reflects the brand so any press isn't necessarily good press. Aim to provoke thought, not people.
3. Be witty and/or humorous
Being witty and/or humorous with your content can be great for creating conversations and encouraging positive brand perceptions.
The goal is to build relationships and people love having a laugh, so why not use it to your advantage?
When done right, being funny or witty can help your brand in the following ways:
- It captures audience attention and makes you stand out from all the digital "noise".
- It makes your brand more memorable, which increases the likelihood of purchase and/or advocation.
- It helps connect with your audience by eliciting an emotional response.
One of my favorite examples of a brand successfully using humor has to be Denny's:
Denny's is notorious for their hilarious tweets, and they're particularly good at encouraging audience engagement with their content. It's also worth mentioning that these humorous tweets are always relevant to their products.
Using humor in your content undoubtedly makes your brand more human, and therefore more approachable/relatable. More approachable brands get more engagement, so it's a no-brainer.
4. Use the power of nostalgia
In the marketing world, leveraging the power of nostalgia can work wonders when it comes to eliciting an emotional response from your audience. Striking that emotional chord is the bee's knees for marketers, and nothing does it quite as well as referencing a blast from the past.
From Nintendo to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (yeah, I grew up in the 90s), there are a whole bunch of effective ways to create nostalgic content for your brand. You just have to be aware of the context, and only use nostalgic marketing that's relevant to your target audience. For example, referencing 'The Beatles' will probably work better if your audience is made up of baby boomers as opposed to Millennials.
This reminds me of a Microsoft ad I saw a few years back:
I loved this ad because it really spoke to me - it reminded me of the good ol' days when dial-up connections and HTML websites ruled the internet. So does that long and fruitful history make Internet Explorer a great web browser? Heck no, but I have a special affinity to the product because I grew up with it. The nostalgic reference made Microsoft seem like an old friend.
Here's what happened to me the first time I saw that ad:
- My mood was enhanced thanks to the positive memories
- I got a feeling of social connectedness with the rest of my generation
- I had great feelings about the future because I had "witnessed" the internet grow
And I'm sure the same happened to a ton of other people who saw the ad. This content totally killed it in creating brand recognition and evoking positive feelings and emotions. Now, I'm not necessarily going to run to the nearest electronics store and purchase the new Microsoft Surface Tablet, but it does make me think about what they've accomplished over the last 20 years or so.
5. Be provocative - but keep it family-friendly
Everyone appreciates juicy or provocative content, and even moreso when it's created by a known brand. We all love a bit of drama, especially when it's someone else's - it's only reasonable that marketers take advantage of this to help their brands' content stand out from the clutter.
The online world is incredibly "noisy", which creates a need for alluring content that breaks tradition.
It doesn't necessarily have to be about sex, politics, or religion, but these topics can really get people's attention.
This comment was posted on UK feminine care brand Bodyform's official Facebook page:
And this is how Bodyform responded:
They really hit it out of the park with this humorous take on a slightly taboo subject. The video managed to turn a potentially negative PR incident into their own viral content, which has had almost 6 million views to date. The stunt also generated over 10k Facebook likes and significantly increased Bodyform's brand awareness amongst the online community.
Creating provocative content is a great way to build your brand's personality, so quit playing it safe and get out of your comfort zone.
Needless to say, you can't go overboard - like taking on a particular viewpoint, your content reflects the brand, and you don't want bad content negatively impacting the brand equity that you've worked so hard to build.
Perceptions of your brand are based on the sum of experiences people have with you. Now that we're in the age of information, audience relationships with your brand go far beyond the traditional brick and mortar stores.
Personality-rich content uses psychology to enhance marketing capabilities. It's also about creating a sense of community to keep people entertained, educated, and enthralled.
Incorporating personality into your content is one of the most effective ways to strengthen relationships, build brand awareness, and encourage positive brand perceptions.