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The secrets of building your brand’s online personality

by | May 21, 2016 | Design, Online Branding, SEO

Have you ever prepared madly for a job interview only to be stumped when asked: “If you were a chocolate bar, what would you be and why?”

When prospective employers ask wildcard questions they aren’t just looking to trip you up – they’re also trying to get a sense of who you are. Why? Because there are certain personality traits that are more desirable to employers than others.

The same can be said for the relationship between brands and consumers. As a small business looking to take your brand online, it pays to consider your customers as prospective employers; before committing to hiring or purchasing from you, customers want to understand who you really are, to determine if your values align.

It is thus essential that you establish a solid brand personality, which appropriately reflects your business.

What is a brand personality?

Hubspot explain that a brand’s personality is:

“How the brand communicates with the outside world. This might be expressed in a certain writing style or voice, design style, colour scheme, and even by way of celebrity endorsements.”

The sum of all these parts can lead to brands taking on human characteristics. For instance, despite the reality of rotting teeth and contributing to the obesity scourge, marketers have convinced us that the most famous of fizzy drinks is “happy, playful, refreshing, and all about sharing and having a good time.”

Coca Cola’s personality has been crafted through the consistent use of bright colours, relaxed language and imagery which connotes sharing and enjoying good times with friends, all while drinking Coke. And it’s been undeniably successful: Coke is the second most recognised word across the globe.

Why your brand needs a personality

Like everything in digital marketing, the goal is conversion. Having a strong brand can certainly drive sales, with people more likely to make a purchase when “a brand’s personality is seen to more closely mimic their own.” In fact, A Better Lemonade Stand note that aside from “price, quality, or convenience… people buy into your brand.”

Personality also benefits brands by making them recognisable – just think of Old Spice, Apple and Go Pro.

Building your personality on your homepage

David Rogers has observed that:

“Today’s networked customers are looking for a different kind of relationship with brands. They want brands that they can relate to — whether a political candidate, a wine retailer, or a hospital where they will undergo a procedure. To build a strong brand in the digital world, be sure your content lets your personality shine through.”

In working with brands we have found that we create the most effective websites by sitting together with them, sharing a Coke (see – their marketing really is powerful) to discuss their core business and values. Once we truly understand the bigger picture, we set to work enhancing the personality by consistently applying its key elements.

Throughout the web development phase we also focus on forging the relationships between our small business clients and their customers. To achieve this we look at how each website can stir emotion and provoke action through its content, imagery and functions.

Supporting players

While Octos describe a website as “your clubhouse” it cannot be the sole repository of your brand personality. Just imagine how much passion would be lost if Collingwood turned up to play at Docklands in their ‘civvies.’

Bang Digital have identified that consistency across platforms can benefit your business through:

  • Increased engagement from followers;
  • Professionalism – nothing screams amateur like a mash up of design;
  • Strengthening brand recall;
  • Developing and maintaining one brand personality; and
  • Eliminating confusion.

One company that does this really well is MailChimp, who ensure that the helpful and slightly mischievous nature of Freddie the Chimp is reflected in tweets, emails and website content, though Freddie himself never speaks.

Put simply, if you want to avoid being seen as having split personalities, you need to ensure that your message is consistent across print and social media.

It was for this reason that along with offering clients an email marketing service geared towards building brand loyalty, we also decided to incorporate print design into our services. This means that our web design clients can also approach us for matching business cards, catalogues, logos, email signatures… anything paper really. Well, except for origami. We have to draw a line somewhere.

Effective communication

Our own motto is to keep communication plain, simple and informative. On this point, Amy Porterfield suggests that you write the way you talk.

Plain should not, however, be confused with monotone. By all means, if your brand has adopted a witty personality, make humour a focal point of your tweets. Just be sure to use language that is accessible to your target audience.

Reflecting your personality

Once you have settled on your identity, it is essential that your personality is properly reflected throughout your online content.

Design-wise, this will be a matter of choosing and sticking with colours, typography, imagery, and styles that make sense to your personality; for instance, if you are a young vibrant business, use bright colours.

But like you, your brand’s personality runs deeper than what’s on the outside. As noted above, your content and communications should be a manifestation of your personality. This extends to engaging in online conversations with your customers, an art mastered by Dan from Optus, who embodies the company’s recent diversity drive.

Finally, the user experience itself is relevant too. The manner in which your customers experience your business through the online mechanism will shape what they think of you – the experience must mirror your personality.

So, what does your brand’s personality look like?

If your brand were a chocolate bar, what would it be and why?

Are you really satisfying like a Snickers? Are you helping to work, rest and play like a Mars Bar? Or, are you more like the Pollywaffle; an iconic Aussie favourite relegated to memory for failing to attract the audience you deserve?

Should the plight of the Pollywaffle sound familiar, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a wealth of experience translating small business personalities online.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, we’d be a Tim Tam.

Interested? Still have questions?

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Ross Dour / About Author

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