Does your brand have a personality?

Of course!

Like all of us, your brand does indeed have a personality. And much like our own personality, your brand’s personality can evolve over time. It can become more refined, relevant, smarter and savvy. It can also become safer, overly practical, cynical, and downright boring. Let’s hope the latter never happens especially in these technologically exciting times. And if it does (or has), it’s time to shake things up!

When developing a brand positioning plan for our clients in all industries, one of our discussion items is a brand personality test. As part of this test, we ask our sample of employees, from every level of authority within the organization, a few questions about their brand.

Our first brand personality question is; “If your brand was a car, what kind of car is it today and why?” We follow that up with “What kind of car would you like your brand to be in 5 years and why?” What we’re hoping to gain from this exercise is an understanding of general internal perceptions regarding their brand’s attributes today and what they would like to be known for in the future.

As you know, a brand is built from the inside out. So, getting this information is ideal for marketers in many ways. If there is a general consensus (or close to one) marketers will know if the internal brand perception is one that requires an overhaul or simply a few tweaks. In either case, what are the implications and is senior management prepared to accept this information and take action?

Here’s an example. In a recent brand personality test we gave to a local bank; the consensus of the staff was that “we’re a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado. We’re roomy, comfortable, classic, we have an 8-track tape player with a John Denver cassette stuck in it, we get noticed because we’re a dying breed, you don’t see cars like us anymore.”

So, what kind of car would they like to be in the future? “We would like to be a late model Cadillac Escalade. Roomy and comfortable for all yet tech heavy, with every imaginable bell and whistle. We’d also like it if people wanted to know more about us,” and say “there’s something interesting there. Can I come along for the ride?”

You can easily see the attributes of their current brand’s personality and the aspirations the staff has about how they’d like to be viewed in the future. Interestingly, both cars are Cadillacs, not Ferraris, Lambos, or even Mercedes. Reading between the lines, the staff clearly wants to be that dependable, comfortable and reliable friend their customers know them as, but they also want to be seen as very intelligent, successful, tech-savvy and a bit mysterious and alluring.

If their bank already has the structure and willingness to evolve, it’s now just a perception issue. So, as marketers, if we update the branding message with the desired brand personality, the bank will have to back it up with every touch point. If they say they will but aren’t 100% committed to change, they will remain that classic 78 Caddy Eldorado with the 8-track tape player and watch their competition fly by them in the fast lane.

For this bank, as it is for most, everyone from the Board to the tellers knows they have to reach a younger demographic segment to survive even 5 years. Competition is already lightyears ahead of them with messaging and technology. They’ve figured out a way to attract younger customers while not upsetting their important older depositors. Think of it this way, even the aging account holder likes a big, roomy Escalade. They may take a nap in it, but that’s okay as long as they are happy and comfortable.

Here’s what you can do. As a simple exercise, bring a sample of staff members of every level of authority, one at a time, into the conference room. Shut the door, take 15 minutes and administer this brand personality test. Make sure they know that this is an anonymous test, and that you’re looking to see if there is a general consensus. They may not say exactly the same cars, but it’s more important for you to ascertain the brand’s current attributes, as perceived by your staff, and what they’d like the perception to be in the future.

After you’ve compiled all the answers, and drawn your conclusions, you should see your current brand personality clearly and where you need it to evolve to. This information is exactly the stuff senior management needs to hear for future growth, attracting Millennials, sales, cross-sales, relationship-building and employee satisfaction. If you need some help reading “between the lines”, I’m just a phone call away and I’d be happy to help.

Contact Dan!


How important is a tagline?

Hello. As usual, this is an opinion-based blog from a guy that’s been doing this for a while. I don’t use a lot of graphs and charts in my blogs because you can google that anytime you want. If you want my take on the subject, please read on.

In my opinion, your brand’s tagline is the single most important element of your brand. It’s that one little, memorable statement that encapsulates your entire brand promise. Because of that, everything you do to promote your brand has to support that tiny yet weighty phrase. An example I like to use is BMW. Whether you agree with BMW’s tagline or not, they own it in every way, shape and form. “The Ultimate Driving Machine®.”

So, if you’re car shopping and someone recommends that you look at a BMW, your first reaction may be, “I can’t afford a Beemer!” That’s exactly the perception BMW wants you to have. They are a desirable, exclusive “club” that a lot of people would aspire to be a part of. BMW doesn’t have to prove the quality or the innovative features of their cars to you, their tagline and supporting marketing communications materials already take care of that. When you learn that you can actually buy the ultimate driving machine and be a part of that exclusive club all within your budget, the competition simply dissolves away regardless of their declared superior quality and the state-of-the-art “bells and whistles” they may offer.

The right tagline can make the difference between a successful brand and a failing one. A tagline shouldn’t need an explanation. It is exactly what the brand represents. So, let’s say you’re with a bank and you want to be perceived as innovative and millennial-friendly, you’re tagline shouldn’t be “Your community bank since 1889.” That ship sailed in the early 2000’s when the big banks were messing everything up for the entire FI sector. At that time, longevity and stability were more important than technology and convenience.

For banks and credit unions, this shouldn’t come as a surprise; your depositors are aging. You need to appeal to a younger demo to survive. I suggest you take a hard look at your tagline first. What simple statement would encourage trial by younger customers and/or members, but not offend your valued older account holders?

A tagline is a simple fix that will shape all of the future communications of your brand. A good example of this is John Deere, Nothing Runs like a Deere®. I’ve owned a John Deere lawn tractor and a Simplicity® as well as a Toro®. I thought they all did a comparable job, but I just felt better riding a Deere. My perception of John Deere was that it was a high-quality lawn mower. The best, I guess. The consistent brand messaging and onboarding materials I received only supported my perception. One last thing, I did pay a premium for my John Deere, but to me, it was just a personal investment in my own (supposed) peace of mind.

Can you update and/or change your tagline entirely? The answer is yes. With technology changing so fast, an older tagline may be just stating half of your new brand essence. Like I said, in the early to mid 2000’s “Your community bank since 1889” may have been right on the money! That’s not the case anymore. It screams “we haven’t changed since 1889!” Is that a viable market perception for growth in 2020 and beyond? (Rhetorical question folks.)

Take a look at your company’s tagline, does it feel a bit antiquated? Is it time for a tagline makeover? A new tagline symbolizes a new direction in your brand’s core messaging. There are very few things that can get your entire staff as excited and engaged as the promise of a new creative direction. New internal and external communications will give your people a renewed sense of pride to be a part of something big—all because of a tiny, little phrase.

If you think you might need a tagline makeover, let me know and we’ll put our heads together. Until then, be “the best a man can get” and ”Just do it”. Why? “Because you’re worth it”.

Contact Dan!


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