Get emotional - and build your brand personality

In an overcrowded market place – finding a point of differentiation or an ‘usp’ (unique selling proposition) becomes a distant desire. Unless you are offering something extremely unique – then you generally have a number of competitors who are offering the market similar products or services.

Given my experience with the accountancy profession, as an example, take a look at a range of accountancy firms’ corporate brochures, or websites – you will generally see the same services being promoted; accountancy, payroll, audit, tax advice, etc.  And of course, they are all promoting these services, because after all – the nature of the profession is that these are the core services that general practices do indeed provide.

So thinking about your own market place, as I said, unless you are doing something truly different, new and innovative, it’s very difficult for businesses to create a ‘usp’ (unique selling proposition).  So what can you, with lots of competitors, in a possibly saturated market, be doing to ensure you attract the type of customers you want to work with?

If it’s a given that the majority of businesses in your sector provide a very similar ‘type’ of service or product, then the differentiating factors can only be ‘how’ those services are delivered and the general ‘personality’ of the business.

For a moment think about the personality of British Airways, Virgin and Ryan Air.  They are all providing a core service – air travel – but look at how very different just these three airlines are when we think of them from a ‘personality’ perspective.

Of course, there’s always the option to focus on a specific ‘strength’.  For example, if your business has a specific area of expertise – a niche offering, then it’s possible to build your brand identity to compliment this offering.  But how do businesses without any specific niche stand out from the crowd?

Instead of a USP – think about your ESP – your Emotional Selling Point.  Think about what your customers and your prospective customers think about you.  Do you think that your customers are with you because of the ‘range’ of services or products you provide – or is it that your customers are with you because a) they get on with you b) they feel comfortable working with you and the services or products that you offer,  or c) they enjoy the level of service they receive.

Such areas form your business’s personality – and whilst your range of services and products may be very similar to those of your competitors – a business’s personality is distinctly different.

It’s important to remember that a ‘brand’ isn’t just a logo on your business card or letterhead – it’s far deeper and more psychological than that.  A brand is what your customers and prospective customers, and indeed your team, feel in their hearts and minds when they exchange an experience with you.  Therefore, how a customer ‘feels’ about your services and products is key. A great example of a brand that makes me feel great to experience is Innocent Smoothies; personal, tasty, simple - yet still innovative.  There are lots of companies in the smoothie selling business – but Innocent sell their personality.

So let’s look at some practical things you could be doing to get your personality across:

Assess your business’s personality - Your business’s personality dictates the type of people you attract – from both an employee and customer perspective.  Run a research exercise with the directors, the team, and a handful of customers.  What type of business are you?  What type of personality does your business have?  Get a clear understanding of what you currently communicate to the marketplace – and be sure it fits with the message you want to convey.

Communicate your personality – Project a clear message of who you are and what you offer.  Does your brand clearly communicate your values?  Is it friendly, laid-back or tight lipped and corporate?  Just what message does your brand communicate?   If you are targeting large corporate organisations, then your message and materials will be positioned quite differently than if you are targeting the start-ups market.  So ask yourself, who are you; who are you targeting and what is your message?

Be consistent –   Once you’ve agreed your personality – be sure to communicate it consistently.  Your brand, your values and your personality should be stamped firmly on everything you do and everything you communicate.  Ensure you have consistency of message, materials and personality.

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Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing.