4 Questions That Reveal Your Brand Persona

Asking some simple questions about your brand persona can help you see how your brand engages and interacts with customers. Just like a person meeting someone new for the first time, your brand has a look, sense of language, and attire that all describes what kind of person, or brand, you are.

people-oriented marketing

One of the ways I help my class describe a brand is to think of it as a person. As a seasoned marketer, you’re aware of the power of personas to help you speak and market to a specific person that represents an audience.

But what about your own brand? What is your brand’s Persona?

One way to get the conversation going with your team and executives is to ask some simple questions that help you think more about the “person” that your brand becomes. Since the best brands are like people, how would you really describe the person that is your brand?

Here are 4 common-sense questions that help you define your brand persona:

1. If your brand walked into the room, what would s/he look like?

Knock, Knock. “C’mon in, Brand!”

When we do this exercise, we’ve imagine Red Bull walking into our classroom room…he’s European, lean, sporty, clean-shaven, rich, somewhat worldly, kind, energetic, and named Raoul. Then Monster Energy Drink comes in the room…he’s got a grungy black t-shirt, tatted up, black baseball cap, attitude, black jeans, names himself Jones (not his actual, real name). Afterwards, Rock Star Energy Drink comes in the room…he’s playful, wearing 80’s style bright colors, a bit goofy, spiky blonde hair, and named Chad.

Each one is an energy drink, but their personalities are so very different. Just look at their websites in sequence and you’ll see how these descriptions are pretty close to describing that Brand Persona.

Now, do it for your own brand. What does s/he look like? Male? Female? Androgynous? Mature? Young? What’s her/his name? What are the clothes? What watch is s/he wearing, if any? Be as detailed as you can. When you really think of your brand waling into a room, what is that complete description?

2. If one of your customers had a chance to meet your Brand Persona, how would they greet each other?

This is interesting. The story of your Brand Persona meeting a customer…do they shake hands? A warm double-over-hand grasp? A hug? Fist-bump? Hand-clasp-bro-hug? A stiff wave and nod?

This tells you how you greet and engage with your customers. What kind of reception do you think your customers expect? What do they want?

My hunch is that Southwest would give their customers a hug, while American Airlines might give customers an arm’s length hand-shake (be nice…I know some of you would say a slap). Subaru? Hug. Kia Soul? Fist-bump.

How would your Brand Persona physically greet your customer?

3. What would the conversation be like? Where would it take place?

Does this tete-a-tete happen in a coffee shop? Over a beer? During a walk in the woods? My hunch is that if REI met a customer, it would be on a trail, and they’d have a hug, take a big long hike together, and enjoy a great conversation about life and the natural escapes we all need.

Would you disclose information? Listen? Talk? Interrupt? Would it be a long conversation that lingers, or something that gets to the point and is brief and moves along to the next conversation? We’ve all heard about the Zappos 15-hour conversation that was rewarded, so what does yours look like?

How this conversation would go helps you think about the tone, language, and style of your communications.

4. When saying goodbye, what kind of expectations are there for future conversation?

When we all say goodbye to a friend, there’s something like “Let’s do this soon.” or “That was awesome. When do we chat again?” or “Great. Let’s keep in touch.”

How would your Brand Persona finish the conversation? Would there be an expectation of future engagements? If so, what would they look like? Would you leave with some things to do to help that customer solve a problem? Would you give them homework and let them solve their own problems? Would you promise to follow-up with them?

In closing, equating brands to people and personalities helps you become more human in your messaging and more intentional in the real problems you’re trying to solve for your customers. And just like people, think about their descriptions and interactions in the world.

As a note, I heard back from some folks about my last post: Words That Describe a Brand. The handbag brand that was described as Well-Dressed. Girly. Elegant. Successful. Special…was Kate Spade.

So, please let me know: if your brand was a person, what would s/he look like? I’d love to hear the descriptions, and the brand.

Author: Chris Foster

Chris Foster has been teaching Brand Strategy and Positioning at UCSD Extension since 2009. He has lead professional workshops and presented at numerous San Diego Marketing Association events as well as national events for the Direct Marketing Association; been guest lecturer at SDSU Marketing Courses; and participated in numerous professional panels.

For the past 20 years he has worked in all aspects of marketing and creative direction for start-up, growing, and established business environments. He has a passion for helping any-sized business transform their brand so they can more authentically connect with their audience.

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