We all want to know who’s behind a business, we’re all nosy, we’re all interested in other people. That’s why we love TV programmes and books that flesh out the characters – and why we care about them. Why stories work so well on Instagram and Facebook – we get to see a bit more of the person behind the business. We want to see more of them – which books do they have on their shelves, what do they like to drink?
At networking events here’s so much more connection from being able to ask after someone’s dog or chat about Roblox with another parent in amongst asking how their workshop planning is going or what work they’ve got on right now.
Just being yourself is of course brilliant advice, but many of us wear masks, feign confidence or hide away due to lack of confidence or imposter syndrome. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it can take a while to get to know people enough to open up can’t it? I find networking events (where we all have business ownership as a common thread) much easier to navigate than talking to people I don’t know in any other situation! Despite this, these events often end up including non-business conversations once we’ve broken the ice a bit and become friends.
Last weekend I attended an event where we were asked to share a truth and a lie about ourselves for everyone else to guess.
I couldn’t do it. My mind went blank and suddenly I was the most boring person in the world. What on earth could I share?! I was excused. I am terrible at that sort of thing.
But since then I’ve thought of a few things – even some things that aren’t terribly boring! And forgotten the most interesting ones immediately of course…
- I make amazing cookies. Thanks to a Hummingbird Bakery recipe book.
- We have a cat. We bought him because I wanted him, but he prefers my husband.
- I will eat pretty much anything, but I’m not a fan of grapefruit.
- I love camping. I don’t do it enough. But I’ll up my game!
- In my first ever job I had to sew up the pockets on my uniform.
- I love cooking on fire. Lasagne made in a dutch oven is truly magnificent.
- I love Harry Potter. I’m currently reading The Goblet of Fire to my son.
- I once bought a load of cabbages (for a cafe I worked in) instead of iceberg lettuces and had to return them.. so embarrassing.
- I collect antique silver teaspoons and postcards.
- I used to be a Cub Scout helper and a voluntary youth worker.
Besides listing random things about yourself that you could share with other people if you wanted to, how else can you express YOU in your brand? I don’t spend my days talking about cookies and postcards. I do talk about camping now and then and sometimes my cat makes his presence felt during calls.
The main things you need to figure out are your brand personality and values. These will give you a strong basis for what’s important to your brand that also relates to YOU and then you can emphasise these areas of your you-ness.
How to work out your values:
Your brand values are the non-negotiables that really matter in your business. They’re the things that you will stand by through thick and thin – they guide you to make strong decisions for your business which are meaningful and keep your brand on track. You’re not creating a brand that is built on one thing (ie. honesty) and then suddenly doing something that is the opposite of that (dishonesty) – confusing your audience and making them question their own thoughts about your business. We all know how quickly minds can change based on one action. Your values help you to stay consistent with the impression you’re giving out. Essentially, your values are the main themes which play out in your brand over and over again.
These will also be relevant to who you are.
Knowing and using your brand values is good for your brand because your audience will see these values in action and use them to form their opinion of your business. They will relate to you better. They’ll feel more of a connection to your brand when you are operating from a place that they understand and you are sticking to that. If one of your values in pioneering then you’ll always be at the forefront, the cutting edge of your field. If one your values is sustainability then you’ll be emphasising that always, working on being more sustainable, sharing that with your audience, giving them tips on how to be more sustainable themselves, sharing articles about it – you get the idea.
The point being, that when you develop your values you also need to consider how you can implement them within your business, make more of them, create content around them. A value isn’t something you write down once and forget about – it’s lived. It needs to become a thread that runs through every area of your business.
There are a few ways to work on your values. I’m going to share some questions to ask yourself which will help you to pull them out. These are quite big questions. You might need to sit with these and really consider the answers. They’re so useful. I’d get a sheet of paper and write down the words and phrases that come up for you as you start thinking about these. You don’t need to overthink this because these are NOW answers. What is actually true and real. Your values are not in-authentic. They’re things that really do matter to you enough that even if you’ve never done this exercise before they are likely coming through in your business already.
So ask yourself:
- What do you do?
- What is your vision?
- What motivates you?
- Why do people buy from you?
- What’s important to you?
- What makes you different?
- What’s important to you about the way that you run your business?
- What do you love about your business?
- What are you doing it for?
- What are you doing that’s going to make a difference?
Then see how you can hone them down, split them into sections. For example you might come up with a group of words like “Friendly, approachable, kind” and group them together and create a heading for that group which you may choose to develop into a value.
There’s a whole post with even more focus on this here.
You can leave it a bit and come back to it and see how you feel about those groups. Maybe one of them will feel less impactful. Make some decisions and develop 3-5 headings (one word or phrases, it doesn’t matter) which you feel relate strongly to what you care about.
We’ll come back to this at the end of this post.
How to work out your brand personality:
Your brand personality stems from your values – these are the starting point.
During the values exercise there’ll have been words you discounted. These will likely include words that are more personality focussed than values-led, where you chose values based on what you care about more than on who you are as a person.
Write them down.
Then think about what your personality IS.
If you are IT in your business, then your own personality and that of your business will likely overlap. A lot. They may even be one and the same. Which is absolutely fine.
Because ultimately you are the face of your brand. You are the main contact.
Things to ask yourself:
- What sort of person would your audience want to hang out with?
- What do they care about?
- What are they in to?
- When they’re buying your thing, what matters to them most?
- When they’re buying your thing, how do they want to feel?
You’ll have a lovely selection of answers to choose from now 🙂
See if there’s a correlation between those answers and who you are. Don’t choose things that aren’t you, that’s not sustainable. Pick the things which you can stick to.
Another way to think about this is to look at Jennifer Aakers Personality Framework which forces you to narrow down your personality into one of five dimensions.
There are 5 categories for personality. These are called the “core dimensions”. There are many personality words which fit for each category – I’ve added some, and some examples so you can think about these work in real life.
Genuine, down-to-earth, cheerful, domestic, honest, wholesome, cheerful, family focussed, real, original
Examples: Disney, Hallmark, Cadbury
Daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date, trendy, unique, independent
Examples: Tesla, Nike, Coca-Cola
Reliable, intelligent, responsible, efficient, successful, technical, confident, leader
Examples: Volvo, Google, Amazon
Glamorous, upper class, romantic, charming, smooth, tact,
Examples: Chanel, Tiffany, Apple
Outdoorsy, rugged, tough, strong, athletic, reliable
Examples: Harley-Davidson, Jeep, Columbia
The thing to do is to rate your brand 1-10 or 1-5, and use the highest scoring words to inform the words you choose. You do not have to use these words! As with values you can tweak until they sound “right”. This should be used a guide to help you work out your personality – especially if you’re finding this challenging!
Once you know your brand values and your personality, the next step is to consider each one and determine how you can demonstrate that in your business. This is the bit where you build your brand and start to speak more clearly to your ideal customer showing them what you’re all about and building that personal connection. Whoop!
There are two ways to go about this.
Start with you.
Look at your values and personality and think about how you can demonstrate these throughout your business. There may be a specific challenge you can solve or a campaign you can run. Language you can use. Ideas that you can run through every aspect of your business. This is a great way to create an overview of your brand.
Start with your touch points.
Make a list of all your touch points (those moments where someone else interacts with your brand) and then match a value or personality with each one stating how you’re going to show it. This is a much more methodical approach.
Both ways are good and I recommend you do them both! Once implemented, you’ll be able to make a more solid connection with your audience. When I talk about consistency, this is what I mean – consistently applying your brand values and personality through all areas of your business so that your brand is strong and meaningful to the right people.
Amy Purdie, The Brand Explorer takes you on an Adventure to discover what your brand is all about, helping you with your brand strategy, brand visuals and content ideas. You can join Amy’s Brand Success Club or join her in your very own Private Brand Adventure.
Amy has been enjoying designing logos, brand identities, illustration, print work and websites – since 2007 fuelled mainly by tea and chocolate.