Creating a Brand Personality Your Customers Resonate With

Like many others, there are a few things I'm scared of. The list includes spiders, deep water (my imagination goes crazy), and being thought of as not having much of a personality.

I grew up very shy, introverted and scared of socializing for most of my life. Because of this, it was difficult for me to strike up - and hold - conversations with most people. Fortunately, I started to grow out of that in college - to which I credit my nearly five years of retail experience with helping me get out of my shell.

Yet, as I reflected for hours-on-end after every social occasion, one worry always came to my mind: do they think I don't have a personality?

This concept translates well to your brand personality. Think about it: Why do both Wendy's and Denny's - two "fast food" restaurants which have no business having a personality - have so many followers on their social media channels? They've decided to create and incorporate a unique personality into all of their brand messaging.

Having a brand without personality is like finding a shell on the beach. Sure, it's beautiful and you might want to look at it for a while - maybe even take it home - but, there's no living, breathing thing inside of it. Compare that to the experience of finding a shell with a hermit crab living inside of it, and suddenly you have a completely different experience.

As a business owner, you have all the power in deciding what your brand's personality looks like. While it can seem like an overwhelming responsibility at first, with the right strategy and tools in hand, it can turn into an exciting opportunity.

The Benefits of a Brand Personality

At first glance, this process may seem like an unnecessary burden. After all, why should you spend a bunch of time and energy to do this when you could simply create and sell your products instead?

Incorporating personality into your brand not only creates loyal customers but also allows them to connect with your business on a deeper and feel as though your products are made just for them.

Let's go back to the Wendy's example for just a moment. If you haven't already, check out their Twitter feed

I don't really eat fast food. In fact, I think the last time I ate it was about a year ago and it was McDonald's (regrettably). But the Wendy's Twitter account is my - and 2.69 million others - favorite feed on basically any social media channel.

They respond to nearly all of their mentions and don't use any of that boilerplate boring stuff that most automated accounts would revert to. Instead, they use a catty, brutally honest, and sarcastic voice that creates "all the feels" in their followers.

They're known to start Twitter wars with their competitors and anyone willing to step up and challenge them - and they almost always win.

Why does this work? It's simple. Wendy's has crafted a brand personality they knew their core audience would relate to. They're not afraid to take risks and make a few haters while they make most of the Internet fall in love with them. They're not boring, they're not wishy-washy with their stance, and they're not messing around.

Creating Your Brand's Personality

Okay, now that we've obsessed just enough over the Wendy's Twitter account, let's talk about what it takes to create your own brand personality. 

Before we dive too deep into this, I want to take a moment have you consider how much of yourself you want to incorporate into your business. I say this because, as creatives, it's so easy to let our businesses overtake us and become our entire identity.

This can be dangerous because the second something goes wrong - you get a bad review, someone returns your product, etc. - it's so easy to take it personally and let yourself believe that you personally failed. Yet, it's important to remember that you didn't fail, just your business - or an aspect of it - did.

As you begin incorporating your personality into your brand, keep this at the top of your mind and make an intentional decision as to how much of yourself you'd like to associate with your business.

Alright, let's dive into creating your brand's personality. In the Discovering Your Brand Story worksheet, there's one page titled "All About You." If you've downloaded the worksheet, flip to that page (5) and follow along. If you haven't download it, do so here (it's free!), print it out, and then flip to it.

Here, we dive into who you are as a business owner. This is key to breaking down which parts of your personality to incorporate. Essentially, you want to ask these questions:

What do I want to be known for?

Hold on, I'm about to get a bit morbid for a second, but hear me out.

If you were to die tomorrow, what would you want to be known for today?

What would you want your closest friends and family to say about you? What about the total strangers you've met on the Internet who've commented on a few of your Instagram posts?

I personally consider this all the time and it affects the way I treat myself, my day, and the people around me. If I were to die tomorrow, I'd want people to say that I did my best to live my life to the fullest, pursued my passions to the fullest extent, and made a difference somehow.

How would I describe my personal style?

This question is pretty generic and can essentially mean whatever you'd like it to mean. However, I like to look at it a couple different ways. 

First of all, you can take a look at the clothes in your closet. Being a fashion school graduate, I fully believe what we wear represents how we want the world to see us. The way you dress is, believe it or not, the way you've been "branding" yourself ever since you were old enough to pick out your own clothes.

Another way to look at it is to determine how people perceive you as well as how you perceive yourself. Ask five of your friends and family - those who you trust to be brutally honest with you - to describe you in 3-5 words. Then, ask the same question to yourself.

What are my superpowers?

If I could have any superpower, I would teleport. I love traveling, but sometimes a 13-hour flight to England isn't exactly my cup of tea (get it?).

I know, I know - it's about the journey, not the destination, but I'm not the most patient person in the world. So, I'd like to teleport.

Anyway - this is all to say this isn't the kind of superpower I'm referring to here. Let's be real, we're all human beings and none of us can actually teleport, turn invisible, or fly.

Instead, what I'm asking is: what are you naturally good at? Which tasks give you the most energy?

Some people are born inherently great listeners, amazing storytellers, and steady hands. With practice, these superpowers can turn into something extraordinary that truly transforms both your brand story and personality.

Sharing Your Brand Voice Through Messaging

Now, in order to get 2.69 million Twitter followers and get people to fall in love with your newly formed brand personality, you must be consistent with your brand voice in all of your messaging.

What this requires is an intentional strategy to ensure every message on every channel you're marketing on aligns. 

To do this, you must narrow down your brand voice into 3-5 keywords which represents how you'd like to be portrayed by your audience. If I had to guess Wendy's keywords, I'd say they're somewhere along the lines of:

  • Brutally honest

  • Sassy

  • Sarcastic

  • Witty

Choose these words and define what they mean for you. I did this for one of my clients and this is what it ended up looking like:

  • Friendly - Be professional but friendly. You're the next-door neighbor who grew up in Seattle. Clients should want to grab a beer with you.

  • Responsive - Make sure all communications happen within a timely manner. No BSing; get straight to the point.

  • Resourceful - We're here to help; come prepared with all necessary information required to be successful. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Admit when you don't know something, but then immediately find an answer.

  • Positive - We're in the business of providing opportunities. No one likes a Negative Nancy! Every day is a new day - so act like it!

  • Transparent - Always engage in authentic experiences. Provide as much information needed to be successful. Admit when you are in the wrong and correct it.

  • Flexible - Do what you can to accommodate the needs of others, within reason. Empathize with both clients and colleagues. Provide resources aimed at making each experience as stress-free as possible.

These elements provided the baseline for this brand's tone of voice which was then taken into consideration on every single channel they were present on. This included their website, social media, blog posts, phone communications, email marketing, mailers, flyers, and even the signage. 

The key here to remain cohesive and consistent. Over time, your customers will come to know and love the personality you've incorporated into your brand.