Persona – Because You Can’t Have a Brand Without It
Written by Mike Borell
I recently needed a new Netflix fix and by recommendation got sucked into the SHOWTIME original series Shameless. The story revolves around a flat broke, tight-knit family known as the Gallagher’s. These fine Irish folk from Chicago love to throw down, whoop it up, and commit all seven sins in practically every episode lending to a decent quality of entertainment, emotion, and excitement.
Old Style beer has a major presence in the series. The patriarch full of punchlines, Frank Gallagher, guzzles it down like water and his scent has been described as a mix of “Old Style and ball sweat.” This beer is a cheap, midwest staple, so of course it’s an obvious idea for the writers to coin it as Frank’s drink of choice. Google Old Style and you will see the company describe themselves as follows, “First brewed in 1902, Old Style has been embraced by generations of Chicagoans and is deeply ingrained in the history and culture of the Upper Midwest.”
This beer is an extension of the main character’s personality. The product itself is a personification of the man. Midwest, Chicago, America, cheap, old, unpretentious, and indulgent (sold in 30 racks for about 30 cents a can). Why didn’t the writers have Mr. Gallagher drinking Goose Island, Guinness, or perhaps Heineken? Because that would totally change the character of his character. Heineken’s too high class. Craft brew is too cool. As a viewer, the small red, white, and blue can in Frank’s hand holds so much weight on our perception of him. This is persona and it is cleverly crafted by our culture and reinforced by our communications.
Would John Deere say that?
Just think about it… If you were to imagine John Deere as a real human being standing right in front of you would he be old fashioned or fashionable? Wise or whiny? Hard-working or entitled? Is he wearing a suit and tie or a pair of Levi’s and work boots? I’m sure everyone reading this article has a similar vision of John Deere in their mind. But why is that? If I said chair – I’m sure you’d all imagine a very different piece of furniture. The answer is personality. Every brand has one and if they don’t they’re dying.
Personality provides appeal. From your sofa to your software to your significant other – you found something in all of their personalities that appeals to you and that is why you have decided to make them a part of your life. There are equal and opposite laws in effect here that dictate why you decided not to select a different couch, computer, or companion.
As a brand, establishing the essence of your personality early on is the key to connecting with the right community.
What makes you tick is directly related to what makes you click and pick.
If brands are people too we want to surround ourselves with those who share our values, just like our friends. So you design some super awesome denim for dudes, but what kind of dude? The Big Lebowski or James Dean? Rugged or refined? American Made or Fair Trade? The exact same product can fit into all these dichotomies but you have to own your one true personality. Nobody trusts a bipolar brand with split personality disorder. Own it. Stay confident. Be true. Be You.
Your brand may not only be an aspiration of your consumer’s desired persona, but also your own. Build the brand you dream to be from day one. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to disrupt and challenge the status quo. Find your rally cry and scream it at the top of your lungs. Soon your following will scream along in harmony with your chorus of core values.
Don’t just look in the mirror. Look at the bigger picture.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the people and a majority of consumers don’t want to buy products from some arrogant asshole they can’t even relate to. This is why brands must focus on humanity.
Our team has worked their butts off in the past to sell fast food to families and coupons to consumers, but we all wanted more. Employees come to 5IVE looking for deeper meaning, because we are naturally driven by the aspiration to do good in this world and spread it through the power of communication. Clients come to 5IVE in search of the same thing – something different, something deeper, something human.
At 5IVE, we build brand experiences that inspire human connection, because that’s what communication is all about – expression, persuasion, appeal, objection, relatability and above all humanity.
Keep It Real
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
Crafting your persona is an integral component to the branding process. How can you promote yourself properly if you don’t know who you are? Consumers can see through the falsehoods of any brand identity just as easily as you can see through the facades of fake people. So you gotta keep it real.
From logo, to website, to the way you walk and talk it all directly affects perception and in this world of overwhelming options you need to stand out. So don’t just think about how your customers relate to your product, think about how these people relate to the world.
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