A few years ago, I was a part of a team tasked with creating a website. The client already had a well-entrenched presence in his domain and his aim in getting a website built was to jump aboard the internet train. He wasn’t really very serious about getting business online, he was already getting a truckload of sales from the traditional sales funnel. His instructions – “The website should look good”.
We tried to do our bit to get an idea about the client’s brand positioning, messaging and his website “goals”; but all we could get out of him were the words, “ cool, trendy, eye-catching” and more along the same lines. Well, we ran with his instructions and came up with a website that was as cool as cool can be. The client was happy. But there was just one small problem which became bigger and bigger as time went by- the website wasn’t aligned with the client’s existing brand personality or positioning. It existed in a vacuum. Instead of acting as a growth hacker, it started interfering with the brand’s growth and ultimately, the client pulled the plug on the website.
This incident was a learning exercise. I realized, come what may, a client’s online footprint must be a deep reflection of his brand’s personality. This Mauro Perrella interview is a must read on the importance of strategic web promotion of brands. The problem is many a times, the strategic aspect of web promotion is thrown out of the window.
The first thing you must do is zero in on the traits that define your brand’s personality. More often than not, the brand’s personality is an extension of its product’s inherent qualities or matches the character traits of its owners or the target audience it is catering to. For e.g. Coca Cola’s traits are fun, playful, creative and sociable amongst others. You can see these traits reflected in the brand’s messaging across diverse media including online and traditional offline media like OOH etc.
Here’s a nice little free worksheet that will help uncover your brand’s personality.
Once, you identify your key brand traits, pick those, which you think can be a part of your core messaging and run with them. For e.g. if you think humor can do the trick for your brand, make sure your brand’s messaging, has a touch of humor to the proceedings. There are plenty of brands who’re using humor in advertising to amplify engagement.
Remember, identifying traits is just the beginning of your efforts to leverage your brand’s personality to improve visibility and audience engagement.
Think about it for a second. You are using humor to boost brand engagement on Twitter, but this isn’t replicated on your Facebook page, or your OOH banner ads. The problem here is of consistency. You need to ensure your message is consistent across all the channels you are using. Otherwise your target audience will not get your messaging at all, which leads to dissonance and which will definitely impact brand growth.
So how do you go about incorporating traits in your messaging?
It’s a question of practicality. You might want your messaging to be fun, but what if you are in a niche that isn’t geared towards fun. So, say you are selling an IT security appliance. This is serious business and funny branding will just kill your brand before its starts walking.
So, be pretty sure the trait you picked is going to work for your domain; if you’ve doubts make doubly sure that picking a particular trait is going to be an asset and not a liability.
You pick the right trait, but find it difficult to create the kind of messaging that reflects the trait. Let’s just go back to humor; you must be aware that it’s difficult to make people laugh. It’s one of the most difficult jobs on Earth, and you need people with a great sense of humor and a fantastic grip over humor as a medium if you are to make the most of it in your messaging.
If you think that’s not going to happen, pick another trait that runs along similar lines and make the most of it.
This is an extension of our earlier point. Say you add a touch of humor to brand messaging, but find it difficult to do so time and again. What’s more it’s turning into an expensive proposition, something that you cannot continue investing in? This is why it’s imperative you run with a trait that fits like second skin and which you are comfortable with. You don’t want to end up in a situation wherein you actually need to change your brand messaging just because you are finding it difficult to infuse your online footprint with the chosen trait.
I am sure there are plenty of experts who’ll say you need get your brand messaging right because it’s for keeps. True enough, but that’s only if you get it right from the word go. What if your trait oriented messaging isn’t delivering the results you are looking for. Do you keep going at it till kingdom come? Of course you can’t. You have to revisit the messaging, recalibrate it and change it. There are plenty of businesses out there who’ve gone through a re-branding process and come out on top.
Yes, your brand personality must follow your online footprint, but it’s important that you do this with a clear purpose in mind and not because everybody else is doing it. You need to identify the trait or set of traits that will stand the test of time and only then make sure your brand and its messaging reflects these traits. Also, don’t fall in love with your messaging. If you think it’s not delivering ROI, be ready to change it. It won’t be easy but you’ll need to do it all the same. After all, your business and its profitability, is paramount. Everything else is secondary.
Aigars is CEO and founder of Colorlib, a company that develops website templates, WordPress themes and is behind several best-selling products. He has been in the web development for 3 and internet marketing for 7+ years and that’s just the beginning.