The importance of personality when creating a small business brand

One of the simplest definitions of a brand is: ‘A product + personality’

In other words, a specific product has a set of characteristics that can be described in human terms that establish the ‘stable and durable’ qualities that set it apart from similar products from other companies.

This is perhaps over simplistic because most brands tend to have many different products and product variants under their umbrella, so arguably, the personality characteristics ascribed need to be applicable to all products and services within the range.

So important is personality seen to be in developing and marketing products that, in recent years, a whole new area of academic research has grown up around benchmarking, evolving the terminology used and determining the relationship between the personality of the product and that of the potential buyer.

But, without going further down the scientific path, there’s another facet of personality that’s worth exploring because it too can have a significant impact on brand identity, particularly for small and emerging businesses.

That is the personality of the business creator and, as the organisation grows, its people.

Virtually every business there has ever been has started with an individual’s idea. Sometimes the concept is shared and shaped with one or two friends or, perhaps, knowledgeable acquaintances are asked for their opinion.

But essentially the product or service that evolves reflects the passion, beliefs, values, hopes, fears, energy and imagination of one or two people who believe in it and are determined to make it successful.

While they might engage others to fine-tune the product, develop a marketing strategy and devise clever advertising campaigns, most entrepreneurs will want to be closely involved, nuance ideas and have the final say.

Branson, Jobs, Dyson, Gates and Musk are just some high profile examples of individuals who’ve put their stamp on their products and businesses as firmly as if they were applying the branding iron themselves. And then, of course, there are the brands that relate specifically to celebrities, such as Brand Beckham.

In some instances, it is difficult to separate the product or service being offered from a perception of the individual. This obviously has its positives and negatives. Success for the product can depend more on whether people warm to the image and behaviours of the founder or inventor, rather than the strengths of the product itself.

There is also the crucial matter of ‘authenticity’. Business leaders need to genuinely live up to their personas. Social media means there is nowhere for any one in the public eye to hide. Although, sadly, the concept of ‘Fake News’ has started to muddy the waters.

As a result, large organisations spend considerable amounts on building and maintaining the business leader’s image, as well as marketing the brand they represent.

This is a luxury that very few small businesses are able to indulge. However, since most people still like to hear the true story behind a product rather than a massaged one, and because many of those starting a business have a compelling story to tell, the simple task is to tell it how it is. And to do this you need:

• To have a clear understanding of what the business stands for and what makes it different from its competitors.

• To capture and amplify the personality traits that made the initial business idea fly and build them into a set of core values that are communicated to staff and customers alike.

• To have a name that has been carefully thought through to ensure that it communicates what you do and the values you live by as well as standing the test of time.

• A logo and brand identity that authentically reflects what you do and believe in while standing out in a crowded marketplace.

• A matrix of carefully researched themes and messages that will engage with different audiences and reinforce (inside and outside) your points of difference.

• All of this to be fully documented in brand guidelines, which will ensure consistency across all communications channels as you develop.

• To make sure that you and you’re employees are always kept up-to-date through a programme of regular reviews and fine-tuning as you develop.

You may be able to do all of these for yourself. But many people find it difficult to describe themselves and their businesses accurately and need an independent view. In which case, you need us.

We specialise in crafting brands for small businesses based on the real strengths of their people and their products. It doesn’t cost a fortune, but it can give you the brand identity to make one.