LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY: WHY YOUR BRAND NEEDS PERSONALITY
Think about your best friend. What is it about them that you love so much?
Their witty jokes?
Quirky love of 80s movies?
Uncanny Will Ferrell impersonation?
Unbeatable sarcasm game?
No matter what led to your undying devotion, it all comes down to one thing: Their personality. You just happened to find that one person whose weirdness perfectly complements your own.
Marketing your brand is much the same.
Your business doesn’t have to be the best option for every single person in the world. It just has to be the best option for your little tribe. Those people whose weirdness perfectly complements your own.
When you find those people and they also happen to need your products or services, well that’s pure marketing gold.
Why your brand needs personality
Let’s be honest: There are a million boring, vanilla corporations out there.
They create perfectly acceptable, politically correct ads. They share pleasant updates on social media. They post informative, if somewhat boring, blogs.
And that’s totally fine. But it’s never going to stand out.
The competition for online customers is fierce: There are hundreds (thousands?) of different brands all vying for your same exact audience.
Ultimately, your prospects will do business with the person or business they feel personally connected to.
If you want to stand out, show your personality and values so consumers can easily see who you are and what you believe.
In my networking group, we often discuss the “Know, like, trust” factor. It says that, all things being equal, consumers will typically recommend and do business with people they know, like and trust.
Seems pretty simple, right?
But many people struggle with building a connection with people they’ve never met.
I mean, how can you form a bond with a total stranger? Let alone thousands of them.
Simple: Describe the problems they are trying to solve and the needs you are trying to address in language they understand.
Talk about your solutions and systems so they can see that how you work is consistent with their own values.
It all needs to feel “right” . . . and feeling right is so much easier when you show some personality!
It’s a tough concept to get for some business owners. Many have never considered the fact that a business needs a “personality” in the first place.
But the concept is important to organizational branding – especially when it comes to social media strategy, where a little personality can go a long way.
How do you want your brand to be perceived?
I’ve seen lists floating around out there of “positive” personality traits that you should try to link to your brand. Examples include:
These are all FANTASTIC words, of course. Who wouldn’t want to be friendly, loyal, and caring?
But if that’s not how you come across naturally, don’t try to force it. Your audience will see right through your ploy, and nothing is worse than being inauthentic.
Don’t be afraid to be sarcastic, dorky, sappy, nostalgic, or bawdy if that’s who you are.
I have one client who uses some VERY colorful language in her blog posts and newsletter to much success. Her audience expects that from her, and they love it.
So, what personality traits do you really want to be known for? What is it that your friends and acquaintances are always complimenting you on?
Remember: You don’t have to be the best choice for everyone, just your target audience. It’s ok if your personality doesn’t appeal to the masses, as long as those few people absolutely love you.
Creating entertaining content
Knowing that you need to inject some personality into your content is one thing. Understanding how to do it is something else entirely.
To make your next blog, newsletter, or Facebook post shine, here are a few actionable tips you can use right now:
Tell a good story
People LOVE a good story. That’s why cave drawings exist, right? Because even way back when people could only communicate in grunts and groans, they still wanted to let people know what’s up.
According to Psychology Today, people just love talking about themselves, but they may feel like they can’t. By sharing your story, you give them permission to be vulnerable and share theirs as well.
The trick is to come up with a story that is both entertaining and ties into the overall purpose for your content.
Bottom line? Anytime the piece you’re writing starts to feel drab and boring, inject a fun little story or joke. Bonus points if it’s personal. Even more points if it’s embarrassing – people love a good laugh.
Share the good stuff AND the bad
Remember America’s Funniest Home Videos? Way back in the day, before YouTube was a thing, people used to tune in weekly to watch others embarrass themselves on national television.
It was HUGE.
Why? Because as long as no one dies or gets seriously injured, people love laughing at the misfortune of others.
As long as you mostly focus on successes, it’s totally acceptable to share those unfortunate stories with your audience.
In fact, sharing an anecdote about how to fell flat on your face can help bond you to them.
(Fun fact: I once ran into a tree, bounced off, and literally fell flat on my face. I was running to catch the school bus and all the other kids saw it happen. Had my parents caught that on film, we could have made millions!)
It’s often those stories of failure that reveal your true character and values. In sharing that you messed up, you’re showing that you’re not afraid to be vulnerable – and, more importantly, that you’re honest.
Nobody is perfect – why pretend that you are?
Elicit an emotional response
You don’t have to be funny, that’s ok. Not everyone has an amusing (or embarrassing) story to share.
In 2017, BuzzSumo analyzed the top 10,000 most-shared articles on the web. They found that emotion was the driving factor in most of those shares, and those that had the greatest influence were:
In a nutshell, stories that make people feel good are more likely to be shared. On the flipside, stories that incite anger or fear are more likely to get commented on.
One note: While using emotional is always better than not, it is important to understand what drives your audience. You may find that endearing stories about your pets are what gets the largest response, or maybe angry rants about politics.
Whatever works for you, go with it.
Want to increase engagement? Ask questions!
(Even rhetorical ones, like the one I just asked above.)
You can’t count on people to comment on your posts of their own volition. No matter how much they enjoy your content, most internet users simply can’t be bothered.
To stop them from ONLY taking in information and incite them to act, ask them something.
Write how you speak
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You need to write how you speak.
A lot of business owners fall into that trap of trying to sound smart or wanting to seem important.
Well, newsflash: Using language your audience doesn’t understand, or speaking in nothing but corporate lingo, isn’t going to earn you any fans.
If you want to create a connection with your audience, you need to sound like a real person. Like someone they might hang out with on the weekends, or someone they might go to for advice.
The world hasn’t been taken over by robots just yet, so don’t be afraid to sound human.
Ultimately, that is what’s needed if you want your audience to embrace you as one of their own.
Actually be interested in your topic
I’ll admit it: I’ve tried to write blogs for my website that I had zero interest in.
Sometimes, you see other people talking about something and you feel like you should try to get in on that, too.
Keeping up with the Joneses and all that, right? But if life has taught me anything, it’s that you can never keep up with the Joneses.
You just have to do your own thing and be happy with it.
Don’t try to write about something that bores you to death just because it’s trending, or you feel like it’ll make you look good. Your lack of interest will come through in your writing and your audience will be bored, too.
Write about the things that interest you. No matter what the topic is, your audience will feel your enthusiasm and it will draw them in.
Formatting, formatting, formatting
When it comes to the web, the way you present your information is almost as important as the information itself.
When a visitor lands on your blog and they see a giant, uninterrupted block of text, do you think they actually stop to read?
No, they do not.
Because before they even look at what you have to say, they already know it’s going to bore them to tears.
Think about your story and then consider how formatting might help improve it. Use spacing, bold type, and italics to help emphasize your points. And use bullet points, headings, and photos to help break things up.
You want to make your content more pleasing to the eye, enticing your audience to stick around and keep reading.
Bonus: Forget about grammar. This isn’t EG101.
Use short sentences. Even one or two words is ok. Create mini paragraphs. Use punctuation in an entirely incorrect fashion.
Who cares?? The internet is the Wild West of the English language. You can do anything you want.
You do you.
All of the advice I’ve given you boils down to one thing: Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Don’t follow what other people do.
Speak how you speak.
Tell real-life stories (even if they’re horrifying).
Share your beliefs and values.
Your audience will appreciate your honesty, and you’ll forge bonds.
The end result? A loyal audience who appreciates you for you.
They’re the ones that’ll stick around for the long haul.