Why you should create a living, breathing person out of your brand

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Think of some of your favourite brands. If you were describing them as a person, rather than a brand, to your best friend, how easy is that to do? With some, such as Nike and Virgin, I have a strong sense of who they’d be if they were alive and kicking and walking around town.

“Yes but those brands have huge budgets, there’s no way I could achieve that, especially for a B2B business, right?” 

Wrong.

You don’t need to be Nike to stand out from the crowd. Just some foresight and preferably someone who knows what they’re doing.

In fact, creating a brand, defining who they are, how they communicate and where they position themselves through the power of language is a lot like being asked to create an e-fit of a person.

You listen to someone tell you what they’re like, who they are, what they do and try and form a picture in your mind.

Then you need to interpret this information and go on an investigative deep dive mission to fill in the blanks. Because no one can ever fully describe every single aspect of a person.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

You’d be here until the end of next year adding small details here and there, and really, a person’s eyebrow shape or a scar on their hand doesn’t actually make them who they are.

A really great brief can capture the essence of this ‘person’, who they are at the core when everything else is stripped away. And when putting together a brand proposition document, once I have that … bingo, I can start building from there.

The questioning comes next, interrogating the brief, making sure you understand all the facts. What do they look like? What distinguishing characteristics do they have?

Then it’s time to get to work. You lay down what you know, but you’ve also got to make sure that this e-fit does look like a real, human person, and not just a slapdash selection of features meshed together in Frankenstein-fashion. That’s where the craft of a marketing professional comes in. You can see what shouldn’t be there, where certain areas need fleshing out and what each characteristic says about the real life person and who they are. 

Eventually, when all the words have been slotted into place, in the right order, you should be able to sit back and see the complete person, in all of their individual, unique human glory. Right down to the fingerprints, the quirks in their speech and the questionable hat choices… it’s all there.  

This document is the most valuable piece of writing a business can invest in, because once you’ve built that person, everything they say from there on will be completely unique to your brand. Every person in your team can pick them up, sit them on their knee and through the power of brand magic and ventriloquism … the voice will be the same. Customers can log onto your website and hear that same voice that they connected with on your Instagram page. Meaning they will remember you, build a relationship with you, keep coming back to you and most importantly… choose you over your competitors.

You might skip over this part, get your brand name and your logo sorted and let the rest slot into place over time. But just remember, your product is not your brand. Your CEO/founder’s voice is not your brand. Your brand is your customer’s opinions of you, and their choice to spend their precious hard-earned cash on your products/services.  

Still not convinced? A glance at burger chain GBK’s 2018 campaign for their ‘Ruby Murray’ burger is a firm example of when it goes horribly wrong. Their misjudged at best, racist at worst, marketing stunt saw a white man wearing a sandwich board telling curry house owners on Brick Lane that they didn’t know what ‘proper’ Indian food was. I’d be willing to bet that if they do have a brand proposition document, ‘abusive’ and ‘offensive’ would not feature on the brand values page. After an immediate backlash, they took down the campaign and apologised, but the brand damage is already done.  

So, with the stakes so high, you’d probably better put that e-fit in safe hands, right? Get it right, and your customers would pick you out of a line-up every single time.