In a fascinating article entitled “Does Your Brand Have a Lame Personality?” on Talent Zoo, Tommy Walker starts out seemingly contradicting some of the basic tenets of branding that I have posted here on Royal Pain. Shocked and dismayed, I read the article voraciously, trying to discern if there was some new idea in branding that I hadn’t seen coming. Has the UVP (Unique Value Proposition) been replaced with a multifaceted personality that works with different audiences in different ways? Maybe. But by the end of the article, I breathed a sigh of relief, for my foundation had not been rattled. Emboldened definitely, but not shaken.
I am intrigued by the concept Walker raised of being a “living, breathing” brand, just as a person has many aspects to his or her personality. He asks, “[D]o all of your friends like you for the same reason?” It is worth pondering how the many faces of Eve can happily coexist in a brand that still manages to define itself. And finding the answer to this puzzle as well as why those friends do actually like you is where the 007 bit comes in.
But before we get to that: the UVP. I’m not quite ready to do away with it. I still think that you should choose a genre and customer personality that best fits you and commit to something, because the worst kind of person is the chameleon who puts on a different show with everyone he meets.
However, if you take Walker’s meaning as a nod to the way we present ourselves a little differently at home than at work, or the way we might love to attend the indie crafts market and show off our tattoos, but we also have a hard-driving business side that feels equally comfortable in a good suit… then you might have a strong metaphor for the brand. Either way, it’s creative and spark-igniting to think of your brand as a person someone might want to get to know, and work on your content from that place. I’d love to see a follow-up article that delves into this metaphor a little deeper.
So on to the second half of the title…
Walker writes that the best way to make a brand interesting is to focus on your customers. On the surface, listening to this audience and narrowing your focus to learn their habits seems a common enough bit of advice. And if all you have is a gender and age range, it’s certainly true that you don’t know your customer well enough to target them with any kind of engaging content.
However, he took the concept of customer habits a step further, and here’s where it gets especially interesting.
One step shy of espionage, in a 007, good-guy-spy kind of way, he emboldened readers with a bit of advice on tapping into their customer base in a whole new way: Allow their interests to influence your branding efforts, even down to incorporating into your content and brand a color palette, a style of writing, or the format of a television show that your customers enjoy when they’re not engaging with you. Minus the copyright infringement, of course. Stalk, borrow, adapt – but never steal. Psychological espionage, maybe. I like it.
So I didn’t get what I thought I was going to get out of that article, but I found two especially fun prizes at the bottom of the cereal box (secret decoder ring, anyone?), and I’m going to play with them for a good while, I think. And I’m looking forward to reading more about how to balance the multiple personalities we all have (in our brands, of course).