How Your Brand Is Like A Person

How your brand is like a person

Many business owners think that the word brand is synonymous with logo. After all, a logo is often the first thing people will notice and the last thing they will remember about an organization. It’s how the consumer forms their initial impression as they try to understand what a brand is all about. But the truth is that – although powerful – a logo is just a symbol that represents the brand.

The logo is only skin deep.

And just like there is more to you than your appearance, your brand is more than just your logo.

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How your brand is like a person

In relationships, you have a hard time trusting a person with whom you don’t feel connected. The same is true about a brand’s relationship with its customers. Consumers want to connect with brands they trust and who have shared values. And as marketers, you know to build that trust, you need to treat a brand as a well-rounded, multi-dimensional person.

Humanizing your brand can help you understand it holistically, moving beyond a logo or website to articulate what’s at the core of your brand, not just on the surface. Consider how well you know these four aspects of your brand to build more consumer connections.

1. Name

How your brand is like a person - reason 1 - nameBrands — like people — start with a name. And whether you like to or not, it’s where you make your first assumptions about both. With people, you naturally draw conclusions about a person based on his or her name, making guesses about someone’s gender, age, ethnicity, and more before knowing anything else. The same is true with brands.

Companies like Jiffy Lube, PayPal, and Pinterest show the power of a great name – they’re relevant, unique, descriptive, meaningful, and easy to pronounce. You can’t say the same about Cuil or Thoof, which is why you’ve never heard of them and also why they’re out of business.

To make a long story short: While a brand is much more than a name, names matter.

2. Looks

How your brand is like a person - reason 2 - looksWhoever said you can’t judge a book by its cover didn’t work in branding. Customers judge the appearance of your brand as if they were on a first date with you. As soon as they take a look, they’re already making judgments. But instead of critiquing your clothes, they’re looking at your logo to draw conclusions about you. Rather than checking out your car, they’re scrolling through your website.

For example, a visual identity created with bold colors, sans-serif typefaces, and clever iconography say start-up tech company just as much as a visor, fanny pack, and flamingo-print shirt say tourist.

Bottom line: The outside does matter. (But luckily for you and our Florida-bound friend, so does the inside. More on that in #4.)

3. Personality & Voice

How your brand is like a person - reason 3 - voiceConsumers connect with you based on your voice – what you say and how you say it creates or grows a connection and elicits an emotional response. You already know this to be true with people. The voice of a mother communicates security and serenity to a fussy baby, the voice of Morgan Freeman designates epic and powerful moments in cinema, and the voice of Gilbert Gottfried makes the collective universe wants to poke holes in their eardrums.

You’ve grown to expect mom, Morgan, or Gilbert to speak with a reliable voice, and you want the same from a brand too. If Dove’s consistent message of women’s empowerment and acceptance suddenly shifted to a place of lascivious sex appeal, you’d be as confused as if you’d met a four-year-old girl who spoke with the resonant boom of James Earl Jones. You’d also feel disconnected from Dove because of the confusion.

Moral of the story: Craft a consistent voice to build consumer connections.

4. Values & Beliefs

How your brand is like a person - reason 4 - valuesOnce you understand a person at the surface level, you’re ready to dive a little deeper and get to know them better. When you do, you often find that there is so much more to a person than what meets the eye. In fact, most of what makes a person special and unique happens under the skin. The same is true with branding.

This brings us to the values and beliefs that shape a company’s character. You know Chipotle values food with integrity, Coca-Cola prizes happiness, and Axe believes sex appeal is a result of drenching yourself in the scent of sandalwood and sage. You know these things because executives at these companies understand (and more importantly, communicate) their brand’s values and beliefs.

While the first three items on our list are no doubt important, it’s your values and beliefs that drive your voice and appearance. If you can’t articulate them, consider writing a brand manifesto. You can find out more about that here.

In other words: If you aren’t clear on your brand values, your audience won’t be, either.

5. Reputation

How your brand is like a person - reason 5 - reputationYour reputation – it’s priceless, yet money cannot buy it. It can take a long time to build and mere seconds to destroy. A positive reputation means that consumers trust your company, and are likely to purchase your goods or services. A bad reputation, on the other hand – well, you can imagine what that means.

Your Brand Reputation is proof that your are living up to your Brand Promise (or that you aren’t). You can’t develop a positive reputation if you don’t have a resolute promise, followed up with products, behavior, and customer interactions that bring that promise to life.

It can be tough to get a real understanding of how our brand is perceived, because we are standing too close, and are more than a little bit biased. A great place to start is the Fascination Archetype system, developed by Sally Hogshead to assess how the world sees us rather than how we see the world.

Remember: Perception matters. We’ll stake our reputations on it.

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Are Your Insides in Alignment With Your Outsides?

If your outward appearance doesn’t match up with your behavior, it can make others uneasy. If you see someone wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope around their neck, it’s natural to assume that they work in the medical field. But what if that person is standing behind the butcher counter? We don’t know what to make of such inconsistencies, and we aren’t likely to trust that person – as either a doctor or a butcher. We might even turn and run the other direction.

Again, the same is very true for your brand. Do the four factors listed above align to communicate one complete brand persona to your customers? If not, your target market might be struggling to connect with and trust you.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to download our free workbook to find out if your brand characteristics are in alignment. And let us know in the comments what you find out!

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Kristin Heffley

Kristin Heffley

Chief Executive Caffeinator at Caffeinated Design Studio
Kristin Heffley is founder and Chief Executive Caffeinator at Caffeinated Design Studio, a visual marketing agency based near Seattle, Washington. She loves coffee, her family, and helping clients create knock-their-socks-off brands, among other things. Her favorite caffeinated drink is a sugar-free vanilla Americano.
Kristin Heffley
Kristin Heffley
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