Your brand is now a person. Who are they?
Through a stroke of advertising magic…
Your brand is transformed into a person, right before your eyes. A living, breathing, opinion-having, clothes-wearing human being.
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You probably have questions. Where did you come from? How did this happen? Am I trapped in a ‘90s science fiction movie with a frighteningly small budget?
I’m afraid those are the wrong questions. Let’s take a step back for a moment.
At The James Agency, this is a creative exercise we perform all the time with our clients. It helps us understand and develop a brand’s voice, tone, visuals, vision… its everything. When talking to consumers, it’s important to let your brand speak. Literally. Imagine they’re a person sitting at a coffee table across from your consumer, chatting over a fresh cuppa about clothes, music, whirligigs, revivalist yodeling or whatever the hell it is you’re selling.
Answer the following five questions about your brand. This article will explain how each one helps create a personified “identity” for your brand, so all messaging is delivered from a consistent point of view, and the “conversation” makes sense.
1. What are they wearing?
We hope your answer isn’t “nothing”. But if it is, it would still tell us a lot about your brand.
Are they stylish and chic, or did they just arrive from a Disney princess costume party?
What about shoes: steel-toed boots, six-inch stilettos or Chuck Taylors? Are their clothes freshly-pressed or is this the third time they’ve worn those jeans this week (and getting away with it)?
This is the first step in determining your brand’s look. When it comes to meeting people, we often see (and digest) their clothes long before we hear them speak. If your brand has an appearance, it’s important to understand how they make a visual impression.
Sidebar: I think Google (as a person) probably rocks a full dad outfit. White T-shirt tucked into jean shorts. All-white New Balance sneakers. The works.
2. How funny are they?
It’s a strange question, but humor is a spectrum. Different flavors of humor attract (and alienate) different kinds of people.
Are they a comedian who sends everyone they meet into side-splitting laughter? That’s a brand that knows how to cut loose, have a good time and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Do they weave sarcasm through their business conversations, cracking smirks in Zoom meetings and corporate luncheons? Sounds like a brand on a mission, but isn’t afraid to remind everyone of their funny bone.
Maybe they’re hard as nails—all business until the cows come home. Humorless is an option, after all. It means your brand has a job to do and there’s no time to waste.
3. Do they cuss?
How colorful is your brand’s vocabulary? Kindergarten teacher from rural Nebraska? Wall Street broker halfway through her first happy hour drink? Samuel L. Jackson from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction?
Remember, not all four-letter words were created equal. If your brand is unapologetic, but tasteful, that person probably wouldn’t be afraid to let a “sh*t” fly, tactful asterisk included. This helps us understand your brand’s boldness, level of poise and influences other conversations about tone.
4. What things do they talk about at the dinner table?
In other words: what are they interested in?
Before you answer, think about your interests and the hobbies your friends and family keep. It’s not always what they do for a living, right?
Here are some oddly-unique examples to get your brain wrinkles…wrinkling:
• Comic books that break the fourth wall
• Lo-fi hip-hop beats to chill/study to
• Competitive underwater basket weaving
• How cryptocurrency works
• Limited edition throw pillows
• Hot dogs
If someone talked about one of those things over dinner and some drinks, how would that conversation pan out? What would you make of that person?
Reminder: this is all part of an effort to understand your brand as a person. If they enjoy true crime podcasts, how does someone sound when they’re talking about those? Can you guess what else they’d be interested in?
5. If your brand was a celebrity, who would they be?
This question gets weird. I’m talkin’ “weird” with a capital “whoa”.
I would say we’ve heard it all here at The James Agency, but people still find ways to surprise us with names like:
• Jeff Goldblum
• Lady Gaga
• Johnny Depp
• Oprah Winfrey
• Elon Musk
• Grumpy Cat
When the guaranteed giggle fit subsides, we’re usually left with a very clear picture of where to start with how a brand looks and sounds. After all, if Danny DeVito encouraged you to book a hotel room, it would probably sound different than if George Clooney pitched you a weekend stay.
If you’ve ever been on an incredible first date, you probably know that this pool of get-to-know-you questions is deep. Start with these five and you’ll be one step closer to bringing your brand to life and having honest, genuine advertising with your consumers.
If you’ve answered all these questions and still don’t know what to do with a Steve Jobs comparison, reach out to The James Agency. We’d love to help you figure out what song your brand likes to sing in the shower—and, more importantly, how to use that information to your advantage.
Morgan Chan is a content strategist at The James Agency. Morgan works with the creative team to deliver focused language and concise, functional concepts to clients. He also uses data analytics from across the web to provide TJA with an informed market perspective. Morgan is an ASU Sun Devil twice over, graduating from both Barrett, the Honors College, with a degree in English Literature, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications with a Masters of Mass Communication. Learn more at www.thejamesagency.com.