Today’s markets are competitive, fast-moving and encompass multiple communication channels. For the B2B buyer, there is a bewildering array of solutions and a wide range of seemingly identical suppliers.
Those buyers are being continuously bombarded with information and sales messages on social media, on the web and elsewhere. If you look at it from the buyer’s point of view, how on earth do they make a decision in that confusing environment?
Or to put it in more colourful terms, as the buyer raises his head over the parapet and surveys the massed hordes of suppliers on the plains beyond – who stands out? Who is it that catches their eye?
Maybe the one dressed in the brightest colours, or perhaps the one with the biggest banner, with the most attractive symbol or simply the one being waved the most? Or it could be the most organised one, the one with the best-presented appearance, the one that speaks their language, and who understands what they want to achieve?
Brands have personalities, just like people. And just like people, some brand personalities will attract buyers whilst others will put buyers off. Everyone has probably had positive, personal experiences with helpful people, friendly or useful people, as well as bad experiences with annoying people, useless people and people who are only out for themselves. Your brand personality needs to appear within the first group and not be viewed as a member of the second.
The difference a brand personality makes in attracting the buyer
Your brand personality has a significant impact on two crucial stages in the buying process:
- Attracting the buyer during the research phase
- Swaying the buyer during the decision phase
Given a level playing field, it is differentiation that helps you to stand out as a brand. This is not just your brand’s logo, or colours, or tagline – although they are all important – it is also what you say, what you stand for, and the stories you tell – all of which make up your brand’s personality.
Your first job is to be noticed – when buyers are researching, they need to be able to find you or you will not even be offered a seat at the negotiating table. The key to being found is to publish content that is appropriate and useful to the buyer doing their research.
When content marketing was a relatively new tactic, the more content you published the better, but before too long most businesses were publishing large amounts of content and it became not only about quantity but quality and relevance too. Today it is also about personality – when everyone is providing good quality content, then character, personality and attitude will enable you to stand out and to engage the audience.
Think about television – we all have our favourite presenters, our favourite game show hosts, our favourite newsreaders. The most captivating documentaries are usually those presented by the most interesting, animated, passionate and engaging presenters. We like the presenters that share our values and echo our sentiments. It’s their brand personality that attracts and holds your attention, over and above the other presenters on TV.
The difference a brand personality makes in getting the sale
Differentiation is also important at the crucial conversion stage. When a buyer is considering several solutions of equal validity, the buyer will most likely choose the supplier they most identify with – the one that they feel most understands them and shares their values.
This is where developing effective buyer profiles become a lynchpin around which your brand personality should hinge. You must truly understand your buyer, their motivations, their pain points, their daily life, their aspirations and their ethical views in order to create a brand personality that will strike a chord with them. The more you understand your potential buyers and customers, the more you can fashion a brand personality that they will be attracted to and want to be associated with.
The way you look
The design choices you make as a brand will say a lot about your brand’s personality, so there is no doubt that brand design is an important part of moulding your brand’s perception in customers’ eyes. Choosing bright colours over restrained formal colours or vice versa says something about your personality. Selecting a certain typeface for your corporate content will influence the way customers perceive your brand. These branding choices are the key to getting the initial impression right. Think of it as dressing appropriately for the job you want – for an accountancy interview you would dress totally differently to the way you would for a creative position.
The stories you tell
Having a smart suit does not mean you get the job though. Personality is about more than clothes. It’s about the story you have to tell as a person. And branding is no different – you can look the part, but is that backed up by what do you say and do?
The primary way you establish your brand's personality is through the content you produce, and more specifically, the stories you tell.
Those stories should feature characters your customers can identify with, going on a journey they will recognise and empathise with, to a similar destination that they are looking to reach themselves.
If that seems a little esoteric, then consider the case study – a basic staple of business content. A good case study will feature a customer’s peers – people the customer can directly relate to. That case study will tell the story of a business problem and the steps to a solution – a journey. Case studies are possibly the closest content to a traditional story, and act as very powerful persuaders.
However, to paraphrase a famous comedian, it’s the way you tell ‘em. Imagine a storyteller that simply related the facts in order, with no additional information or background. It would be a very boring story and you wouldn’t learn much about the storyteller’s personality. With content, it's important to inject some character, some attitude into the telling and to ensure your brand's tone of voice is adhered to. It's a great opportunity to get your brand personality across to the customer.
Over time, your customers will build up a picture of your brand personality based on the content they come across. So every piece of content you produce should express the personality you are aiming for – the brand personality that your buyer profile will relate to and engage with.
Another significant area where your brand personality is communicated and established is through your engagement with social media. How you post, comment and interact on social channels will also add to how your brand’s personality is perceived by your customers.
It’s one of the reasons why it’s very important that you carefully plan your involvement with social channels and have an experienced hand managing your brand’s strategy and guiding the implementation. It is very easy to step out of character with a single post and change your audience's perception of your brand personality forever. Your Tone of voice is no more important than here, in social media. Conversely, it is perhaps the easiest channel in which to establish a personality – for better or for worse.
Nobody wants to spend time with someone they don’t like, or someone they find boring. And nobody wants to do business with a brand that they don’t like or find boring.
By paying attention to your brand’s personality – crafting it with buyer profiles in mind – it will become another persuasive point in your favour during the buyer’s research and decision-making phases.
The most successful brands have personalities that attract customers and convert them seemingly without effort, but only because they understand their audience completely and live and breathe a personality that their customers can empathise with and come to love. It’s powerful stuff and exactly why brand personality matters so much.