As you move forward with building a brand, it's important to know if you're building a personal brand or a corporate brand.
Is your brand something that will live and die with you? Will you be at the centre of its operations and will your customers deal directly with you in many cases? If your business will be built around something that you, specifically, deliver, then you would be wise to build a personal brand.
If, however, you want your business to be a legacy brand that often operates independently from you (and will do so after you're gone), with a team that represents its corporate values and the mission and vision you established as its founder, then you'll want to build a personal brand and a corporate brand. This includes brands with franchise and network marketing potential.
If you plan on building a product brand and working entirely behind-the-scenes, then a corporate brand (i.e. business brand) is best.
Knowing what type of brand you'll be building is imperative. It will guide your communications, and it will provide the framework under which your ideal customers learn to trust, know and like your brand.
However, it doesn't end there. Contrary to popular belief, you've got to humanise all types of brands—not just personal brands.
Today's consumers want to establish relationships with the brands they choose, and they want to do that even with brands that don't have human faces attached to them. It's anthropomorphism, really (the assignment of human traits and emotions to inanimate objects), and humans do it naturally, whether they're prompted or not. So, if they're going to assign personality traits to your brand anyway, I would suggest you colour their perceptions and nudge them toward seeing the brand you want to see in the world—rather than leaving it to chance.
How can you do that? You can humanise your corporate brand.
And you're about to learn how.
Your Corporate Brand, your Human Brand
This concept can be difficult to grasp at first. You are not centre-stage in your brand for a targeted reason, and yet, you're being asked to give your corporate brand human traits. Try not to confuse this with giving the brand your personality; instead, you're going to build one that furthers its mission and builds trust. You're going to make it feel human…trustworthy, comfortable and genuine.
Here's how you can do that:
- Show empathy by helping others who need what your corporate brand has to offer. This can be physical products or it can be something as simple as acknowledgement. It's something that good people do—they take notice, they empathise, they pitch in and they help. When your corporate brand does this, it becomes more human and more relatable.
- Conduct an in-depth study into the likes, dislikes, beliefs, values and personality traits of your ideal customer. Understand that most of them will look for brands that share those characteristics, because they want to establish relationships with businesses that feel like extensions of themselves. Those are the brands they can trust and recommend with confidence. Keep in mind this isn't about changing the core values of your brand to match those of people whom you think are your ideal customers. It's about finding consumers who are your ideal customers and communicating relevant connections to them with your branded language.
- Determine who influences your ideal customers. These are the people who lead tribes, who are looked to for advice and whom are respected. They can be mass-market influencers (big celebrities) or those who affect small groups of people (micro-influencers). Now, analyse the traits demonstrated by those influencers and express them through your brand's social media posts, email campaigns, blog posts…all communications. This isn't about making direct references to the influencer(s). Rather, it's about representing the same values that attracted your ideal customer to those influencers. And, if done correctly, you'll find those values match those of your corporate brand as well.
- Let your team members shine. Just because you're behind the scenes doesn't mean that your team members (especially those who most passionately represent your brand's values) have to be. Give your audience a glimpse into how your corporate brand works, and how honest-to-goodness humans make it all possible. This will certainly humanise your brand because your team members are…well…human.
- Pinpoint emotions that either remind your ideal customers of the pain they want to distance themselves from, or that push them toward seeking a solution. It's likely that you'll name one main emotion (and maybe a few supporting ones). Now, determine what human behaviours prompt that emotion to come bubbling out and spill over. You may need to follow your ideal customers' conversations on social media, for instance, and take special note to those posts and comments in which they talk about how they feel, who made them feel that way…and how they want to build upon or end that emotion. Use language, images and videos to stir emotion within your target audience. A human-like connection will result…and that will be only the beginning of your corporate brand's journey to high visibility and profitability.
- Tell stories. Storytelling humanises your corporate brand. Stories have been connecting people to one another from the dawn of time—even before humans could speak. Stories were told through gestures, with pictures on cave walls…and now, they can be passed on through the brand stories of businesses that wish to establish more human connections. Be real. Be honest. Be approachable. And don't forget the emotion.
- Rescue them. Your ideal customers are experiencing a problem or a pain, and they're looking for (or waiting for) a solution. Oftentimes, they will assign human qualities to that solution—sort of like a single person who wants a relationship and they're waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right. Your business can be Mr. or Ms. Right Brand and come riding in on a white horse, ready to sweep your ideal customer off his or her feet…if you've got the right traits in order and you're expressing them clearly.
- Be consistent in the personality you put forth. Nobody likes fake people, who pretend to be someone they're not. The same goes for your humanised corporate brand. Decide 'who' it is, and then be that, full-out, with a level of reliability that will establish unfaltering trust (and the best kind of predictability) in your brand.
You can choose to assign a human persona, in the form of a real human being, to your brand (think Colonel Sanders of KFC, Flo of Progressive Insurance, Ronald McDonald of McDonald's). Or, you can portray the human traits you've identified in every piece of communication you put forth, both public and private.
No matter how you choose to proceed, I trust that you've gained a deeper understanding of why every brand needs a human side.
If you do have questions or you'd like to learn more about how to humanise your own brand, contact us. And don't forget to that we have a 21-Day Brand Builders Challenge kicking off at 8 a.m. on 27th December. Join the How to Build a Brand group now (it's FREE) to be involved. If you're a little late to the party, don't worry. You can catch up!