Brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.
Another way of putting it is that your brand is your personality. A person’s personality is a part of who they are. Since an organization isn’t a living thing, it doesn’t have a personality in the same way. So we create one, by building it a brand.
So what is your brand personality? Is it what you tell people your organization is? Or what the company sounds like? Or what they do? In reality, it’s a little bit of all of these. Your brand is a combination of your intentions, your actions, and other’s perceptions.
Brand Personality Elements
Most people think about branding in terms of visual work and marketing. The logo, the colors, and the font all play an important role in having a recognizable brand. But branding is also about how you sound and what you do. To that end, brand includes:
- Message Architecutre
- Voice and Tone
- Communications Strategy
A message architecture is the first step in creating a brand. The message architecture has at its core a mission statement of sorts. This isn’t a public-facing missing statement. It’s a one or two line statement that summarizes who you are, why you do the things you do, and how you accomplish your goals. The mission statement should serve as a reminder of how you make your decisions.
The next part of the message architecture is the pillars. These are themes, or terms that summarize the attributes of your brand. For example, one core theme may be “up and coming,” which will influence the types of technology you use, how quickly you share information, and what types of products you create. Another may be “supportive,” which will influence the customer-facing decisions you make.
Together, these themes and mission make up your architecture. They serve as the structure for your brand.
Voice and Tone
Your voice is the way you speak or sound. It’s inherent to who you are. In the same way that good dialogue demonstrates how a specific character speaks, your brand voice will demonstrate how you speak.
But if voice is inherent to you, tone is how you modulate your vocabulary for specific scenarios. As a person, you may speak differently to your parents than to your friends. You may use a different vocabulary and tone in a meeting than on a date. Your brand will also need a tone specific to each common scenario: one for celebrating great moments with customers and another for apologizing. One for sharing privacy information and another for marketing. If you define the appropriate tone for each scenario you’ll ensure your voice maintains a measure of consistency.
Your strategy will outline how, when, and where you are going to communicate with your audience. How do you make those decisions? Refer back to your message architecture!
When you build out a communications strategy, you define additional elements of your personality. You define the types of places you spend time, when you’re going to reach out to people, and what you’ll respond to.
Live Your Brand
Ultimately, your brand personality is guided by the elements identified here. But you can only talk to talk if you walk the walk. Listen to your audience, and learn if you’re being consistent. Check in with your message architecture, and make sure your mission statement aligns with your objectives.
Your brand personality is an intrinsic part of your organization. Set yourself up for success with a message architecture, voice and tone, and communications strategy.