Branding: Do you Need to Give your Brand a Personality?
When starting a business, branding and image is important. But remember that value for consumers is still key
When you launch your business, do you need to give your brand a personality to make you stand out in a packed market place?
This was a question we laboured over when we launched in 2003. Why? Firstly we were opening ‘shop’ to a marketplace packed with competition – what would make us stand out? Secondly, we were selling printer ink – probably one of the dullest commodities on paper. With these two obstacles in place, we felt that our only option was to inject humour.
This led to the creation of Dave the Badge, our cheerful company mascot, who we felt would make us memorable in a sea of competition. We invested hours upon hours of time bringing the face of our company to life. We even gave him his own ‘thought trumpet’ blog, his own twitter feed and invested hard-won money on getting a cartoon designed.
The time and money invested were not rewarded. As fun as Dave was, he wasn’t what our customers wanted. In fact he was turning people away. To evoke his personality, our copy became more laboured and difficult to read and our email unsubscribes increased to a worrying level.
The hardest blow was realising that in nurturing Dave, we had forgotten to nurture the things that attracted and retained clients: best product prices, peerless customer service and excellent delivery.
It was a great lesson to learn. It underlined how crucial it is to know what’s best for your business and to keep this in mind at all times.
For example when considering a support service like public relations, we always keep in sight the outcome. As lovely as it is to see your face in the Financial Times under the headline ‘Leader of the future’, if it doesn’t drive new customers to the site, what’s the point? We can’t live off ego and profile.
We take the similar approach every time we consider the costly exercise of rebranding – will it help our business goal of selling more and making more money?
That said, while creating an external ‘face of’ has not proved profitable, an internal one has been worth it’s weight in gold.
We structure our internal communications around a series of core communications that permeate throughout the business. These shared principles mean our whole team is aligned with our umbrella value: making it easy for customers. Every business decision we make is anchored to that statement. If the answer is ‘yes’ then we do it. Sharing the same goal means our customers always get the best service possible – as every single employee is dedicated to the pursuit of that goal.
To conclude, don’t feel under pressure to give your brand a personality, even if you feel that it’s the only way to be noticed. The fact Is if you have a good customer offering, you will be noticed and it will be reasons to maintain these principles than crafting badger copy at the end of a long day! If the customer needs to buy into the brand, for example Innocent Smoothies or Cranks bread then creating a brand that engages through aspiration or humour is important. However if you’re a commodity and the offering the best price online drives purchase, then focus on ensuring your prices are always the best.
Ian Cowley is managing director at Cartridge Save