Chapter 21 The Heritage (where do you come from – and how does that help to differentiate you from the crowd?)
One thing that most of us do – whether we are in the ‘biz’ or not – is that we think of brands as companies. Think about it. When we see two leading brands of anti-dandruff shampoo, how many of us realize that both brands come from the same company? The same is the case for two leading brands of soaps. So how is it that one company is able to implement such a strategy so successfully? Because the brands have such different positionings, they are perceived as completely different, and hence consumers don’t really make the connection. (This relates to a separate point that strong brands are forgiven many sins by their fans ☺)…
Most brands start out as entrepreneurial efforts – and guess whom the entrepreneur behind YOUR brand is? If you said ME (referring to yourself) – you are correct. As mentioned earlier, you are also the CEO, CFO, CMO etc. etc.
So how do you go about defining your “heritage”? Some useful areas to consider are:
1. Your mission! What do you think you exist? Is there a purpose to your existence? If there is, what is it? If you don’t know, then you really need to think about it. It’s a tough question to answer, so give it the time that it deserves.
2. What is your core expertise? Do you have any unique capabilities that set you apart, that define you, that define the way you see the world? Try to look at it from the point of view of your “consumer”. Is it something that they would be willing to “pay” for in some shape or form?
3. Is there something special about the people you hang out with? At work? At the gym? At your club? Are you an influencer in an online community? Our parents used to say that your friends define you – boy, were they right!
This is a deceptively challenging part of your Brand Identity. It must be done well, and it must be authentic and believable – and most importantly, it must make you more desirable to your ‘consumer’.
Chapter 22 Personifying Brand YOU (seriously… figuring out WHO you want to be, focusing on Values & Personality)
One of the exercises that marketers find useful during market research is to try to get consumers to describe the brands that they like or dislike in terms of the people they might be. We call it Brand Personification. “If your brand was a human being, and they walked through the door right now, they would look like…”
The answers you get in terms of male / female, young / old, educated / not, urban / rural, etc. are extremely interesting – and sometimes quite shocking to the Brand Manager. You see, sometimes the person who is closest to the brand – the Brand Manager – is the one least able to see the brand objectively.
I read somewhere that 99% of people who regularly drink either Pepsi or Coke believe that they can identify their brand by taste alone in a blind taste test. Less than 1% actually can. That’s astonishing. But less so when you think about it…
You see where I’m going with this ☺.
You would think that it would be relatively easy for you to ‘personify’ your own brand. Like heck it is. We are, with very few exceptions, largely blind to our own imperfections, and yet we believe, some of us with entirely misplaced confidence, that we know ourselves like the proverbial backs of our hands. We don’t.
So – how would you go about defining YOU as a person? We are looking for a real archetype, a clearly recognizable persona that people can and will identify with. The descriptors we are going to be looking for are way beyond ‘friendly’, ‘fun-loving’ or ‘sociable’. These are more than just words – they will help define the relationship between you and your consumer(s), and the nature of the bond that you have.
Here’s how it looks:
1. The Archetype: defines who YOU are to your consumer – and the role you play in their lives.
2. Values: three things YOU believe passionately.
3. Personality: three traits that YOU always exhibit.
These of course have to mirror the positioning you have defined for yourself – and help bring it to life.
Let’s look at an example. Who is this?
1. The smart & funny liberal pundit who can be relied on to tell it like it is!
2. Passionately believes & values:
a. The truth needs to be told
b. Integrity above all else
c. Humor drives home the point better
3. Exhibits the following behaviours consistently:
a. Passion for the truth
b. A self-deprecating & irreverent sense of humour and
c. An uncanny ability to frame the important issues of the day for the American (and global) public
Yes, Jon Stewart is the embodiment of this, his brand persona. This is what makes his show so compelling, and his Daily Show into such a powerful and globally recognized brand.
There are several steps you could take here:
Step 1: Write down your existing Persona as you see it today. Dig deep. Make it meaningful. Try to describe yourself in real terms, not how you think other people see you, but how you actually are. Can you write an archetype statement for yourself? What are your values – the things you believe in passionately? How would you describe your personality – those traits that make you who you are? Do you know what they are?
Step 2: Validate this with ‘consumers’ who know you well. I would suggest starting with your spouse or significant other, close friends, your boss and close colleagues. The easiest way to get this feedback is through a simple questionnaire designed to make it easy for your consumers to give you feedback in a safe and non-critical environment. A series of statements with a sliding scale (1-5 with 1 indicating complete disagreement and 5 indicating complete agreement) should be helpful.
e.g. I am innovative. I balance work and life well. I am trustworthy.
It depends on what values or personality traits you are asking about. Framing the statements properly will be critical. You should allow the respondents to add statements that they feel are reflective of your persona. That will ensure that all points of view are captured, and that the feedback you receive is more holistic than you might be able to ensure on your own. (Remember what we said earlier about the Brand Manager having potentially glaring blind spots when it comes to their own Brand?)
Step 3: Once you have the feedback collated (throw it in to a spreadsheet for easy tabulation), identify the gap between your perceptions and others’ perceptions of you. Understand this gap. Internalize it. Even if the gap is vast and not entirely complimentary, accept it for what it is and move on to the next step. (This BTW is much easier said than done but at some point you will need to BABAGOI – Build A Bridge And Get Over It!).
Step 4: Write down your desired Persona – complete with an Archetype, Values and Personality. Remember, at this stage, don’t focus too much on the ‘how’ you are going to achieve that, although a little bit of grounding in reality is probably not a bad thing.
Now that this last critical piece of the Brand Funnel TM is done, you are now ready to put the entire Brand Identity together.