by Taylor Treese
People have personalities and so do (should) companies. Personalities attract like personalities, as friends, work-makes, teammates, travel companions, and so forth. However, you only get to know someone's personality after hanging out with them for a significant amount of time. This is no different in the corporate world. How would you know a company's "personality" if you've never done business with them? This is why advertising or marketing exists, to promote or make the market aware of your brand (personality) and attract clients. Some might remember the days when the saying, "No one ever got fired for buying IBM," was popular. IBM went to great lengths to cultivate and build that brand, i.e., the brand that works, the brand that's trustworthy and safe to choose in a difficult and expensive product purchasing decision. IBM wanted the market to know that they had very strongly held internal beliefs of only engaging with a potential client when they believed they could over-deliver.
Ok, so how do you uncover or develop that company personality? Sometimes simply asking questions and answering them with well thought out answers is the best way to uncover great information. Let's dive into five quick excersises that might help.
Exercise 1 - Answer These Questions:
Who are you?
Why does your company exist?
What problem do you solve?
How does your solution stand out from the crowd?
What are you committed to?
What niche do you want to operate?
Can people count on you, and why?
Why should people care about your company?
Along with these questions, make a list of words to define what your company is not. Create pairs of words that team members may confuse to eliminate misunderstandings. For example, state that you want to sound fun but not childish. Share this list with your support team and department responsible for creating content and delivering the message. They need to understand crucial traits that you are up to.
If you are stuck, pull in some friends and stakeholders into the exercise, ask them these questions and see what you learn. Every answer is a precious piece of information that comes with value and meaning that can reinforce the foundation of brand identity.
Last but not least, it is crucial to note that you should do this exercise not only at the early stage of the company's development but also during its life. There are three reasons for that.
First, it indicates areas where you have gone in the wrong direction.
Second, it defines the brand’s purpose and goals that should be reconsidered due to inefficiency or irrelevance.
Third, it uncovers some startling updates to your brand that help meet the target audience's ever-changing preferences and expectations.
Exercise 2 - Get Personal
Gone are the days when brands were defined by their logos, mascots, and color schemes. Over the past decade, the situation in the market has changed dramatically. Customers no longer want to deal with faceless, cold organizations. They crave warm human touch and feel, opting in favor of hyper-personalized interactions with the platforms rather than details-obsessed robotic-like approaches.
The time has come to personify your brand, even though it may sound like a true challenge, especially for young and ambitious entrepreneurs. However, it needs to be done. The good thing is that there is an exercise to determine your company's archetype that will resonate with the ideal client and target audience.
The routine has just two steps:
First, get a little abstract and creative. Do not be afraid to be fun, childish, and even ridiculous. Let your imagination run wild. Motivate the entire team to do the same thing.
Second, turn your company into the person, the real one. Ask yourself these questions to create the profile:
Are you male or female?
How old are you?
Are you tech-savvy?
Are you artistic?
Are you spontaneous or carefully thinking, modern or traditional, fun or serious, friendly or professional, accessible to all or exclusive?
What qualities do you have?
What are you wearing?
How do you approach people?
What do you say?
After gathering all the answers, try to illustrate this person. Do this exercise together with your team members. You may be surprised by what you find. Is it a person whom you would ideally like to be? Is it a person who will become a crucial part of your consumer's life?
If so, make sure to manifest all their qualities through content, message, and communication channels.
Exercise 3 - Become Transformative
As many professional marketers and branding coaches agree, people are after transformation, not just a product these days. The desire for transformation that is integral to the beauty and health industry has also migrated into other niches. It is a real thing in B2B and B2C sectors. If you manage to make your product a tool for improving customers' lives or solving their issues and improving the overall situation, you will be a winner.
This is not an easy task since making a transformative product is a multi-step process that involves the development stage. However, everything starts with a small exercise that defines the essence of how you can make that metamorphosis happen. Do these steps:
Think about your ideal client.
Create two columns on a sheet of paper, digital document, or board. Name them “Before” and “After.”
Put inside “Before Column” a list of problems that your ideal customer experiences. It should include a description of the situation, details of the problem, and the client's feelings.
Put inside “After Column” where your customers want to be.
Think about a list of all the ways your product might help.
Exercise 4 - Determine the Position
Providing an experience tailored to customers' needs, backed by genuine personal interaction, is not enough to survive a cut-throat competition. Your company should stand steadfast and hold true for at least a year. It should have a strong position since it makes it unique and delivers the right message to the crowd.
Product is the driver to establishing positioning; therefore, answer these questions, guided by its qualities and attributes.
What is the product category?
Who is your ideal client?
What is their need?
What is the product's key benefit?
What is its primary differentiation?
How can you describe the product in three words?
What are a competitive alternative and its weaknesses or flaws compared to your product?
Using these answers, you may easily create a statement. Start with addressing it to the person with a specific problem. Then reveal the product’s advantage. Compare it with an opponent, and end with a primary differentiation.
Exercise 5 - Create a Motivational Manifesto "We Are" or "We Believe"
Making every member of the organization give their maximum effort and commit to the product and platform is a true challenge. A strong work culture where staff is heard and appreciated is one of the ways to cope with this task. However, it might fall short without good motivation and reminding everyone why you are all here and what your beliefs are.
Creating a motivational manifesto is one of those exercises that reinforce work culture, bring everyone on the same page, and give a much-needed boost to devote yourself to the cause.
So, what to do? Compile a list of all the things you believe in, considering all facets of life. Do not make it perfect or brilliant. Make it simple, but reflect your brand's value, personality, and mission. Create an illustration, or infographic, or use a bullet list to visualize it. Print everything and hang the poster in your office.
Developing a strong brand identity that surmounts all obstacles and stays stable despite market fluctuations is complicated. However, nothing is impossible. Follow these best practices:
You can closely collaborate with a branding agency because it will put you on the trajectory to success or bring you back if you get off the beaten track.
Implement marketing strategy fully and devote your time, effort, and energy to small tasks.
Do your share of work, like brand identity exercises. Put your soul into them and be ready to handle as much information as possible because it may hide some actual germs inside. Refine your strategy and level up your company with every such task.