A brand is only human too
“Describing our brand as human? What’s that for?” It’s a phrase we hear regularly during our BrainSells Think sessions. The first phase in the positioning process with our clients. We look for what makes a brand unique. To find out how an organization sees itself, we ask the group of employees present at that first session to describe their organization as a person. A real one, yes. One of flesh and blood. One with character traits.
Sometimes that feels a little weird. To answer questions like “Where does [merk X] live?” and “What does [merk X] vote for?” to “Where does [merk X] go on vacation? Homework we call it. Make things tangible, we tell them. One of our copywriters then analyzes this homework and compresses it into a literal persona description. Then you get a story that begins roughly as follows: ‘[Merk X] is a 52-year-old man who lives with his wife and four children in the polder of a medium-sized village. He likes peace and regularity and doesn’t mind a 9 to 5 life. At least he knows where he stands. Every Saturday he plays a tennis competition in the team he has been a member of for years. And also the weekly drink afterwards…’. Etc.
The interesting thing is: when we read out a brand personality like this, it becomes clear at once why we ask all those “crazy” questions. The brand has become a concrete thing. It becomes crystal clear to what extent the team is on the same page. And among other things, it forms a perfect foundation to then test the image against. Is it true what they say about themselves? And does it match what the customers [merk X] say about them?
“A positioning aims to
that the image matches the identity.”
From identity to image
People want to be able to bond. And that works better when something is personified. When one can identify with something. Philip Kotler said it years ago, ‘A brand is an identity. A positioning aims to match the image with the identity.’ You can shout out to the world that you are ‘a very hip 28-year-old woman who dances on the bar every Saturday in her local pub’, but if in reality you are very decent, like to play it safe and indeed look more like a 52-year-old man who leads a quiet, nice family life, you are missing the point. In your marketing. In your sales. In your communication. In everything actually. Because there is nothing wrong with being decent. Not at all, in fact. But if you don’t fully commit to that, you also won’t attract the audience that suits you. With all the consequences this entails.