Branding your personality? Three common mistakes.
You know us as humorous, creative, structured, reliable, calm and clever. At least we hope so. Because that’s how we would like to be known. It’s our personality and it’s (supposed to be) our brand’s personality too.
And there’s a reason behind sharing so much about ourselves in our writing: people like it, and it’s the easiest thing for us being authentic. We would have a hard time claiming to be a tight ass design and marketing agency, while we don’t even have a dedicated office.
There seem to be situations where personality is important for branding, and where it’s not. We want to focus on the former. Because that’s how we roll. And more so: who we roll with.
Generally you can’t make a clear distinction between markets where personality branding makes sense and where it doesn’t. You could introduce it into niches where it hasn’t been seen before. But typically it’s found a lot in areas of:
- life coaching
- motivational trainers
- yoga teachers
- and other sorts of creative individuals.
– those people who typically fill out our website request form and read our posts.
Spoiler: it’s usually more challenging to build a brand for personality-based businesses. Because it’s our nature to identify a lot with what we call our personality.
Let’s first look into what branding typically consists of
There will be classical design agencies telling you a completely different story. “You need a complete style guide”, “Your logo has to be ready to be printed on large banners”, “We have to define the paper your annual report is gonna be printed on”…
And those things are correct for a lot of applications. Not so much for our typical life coach client. We have yet to meet a coach who wants his house covered in a banner with his logo. We’ll take care of that when the time comes, meanwhile we have found that it’s good to take some short cuts.
Let us talk about a practical, economic approach towards branding for an internet-based branding for an individual solopreneur. Those folks usually need:
- A logo (typically around 400*150px plus a retina version)
- A look and feel for the website, including colors, fonts, shapes, style of photography …
- A profile picture for social media profiles
- A couple of images for other applications, e.g. social media headers
- Mailing list template design
Again: there’s usually no need to define the exact margin of the placing of the invoice recipient’s address. The tools he’s using might not allow us to make that change anyways.
And don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying you have to create logos only in 400*150px. Of course every logo that leaves our facilities is vector based and therefore able to be scaled up for house covering banners. What we want to say is: in practice it’s being used in 400*150px most of the time, and there are other things it’s worth spending time on. Take proper writing for example.
That brings us to the next point.
Common mistakes to avoid
From your point of view as a “client” of someone who is creating your identity… what could you actually do wrong? In face, while your designers can do a lot of things wrong, you can too!
1. Over-identifying with the results
Representing your personality is a sensitive area. I mean you’re so complex right? Right! There is probably no combination of pixels that fits in 400 * 150 px to represent you and your entire personality. So accept the abstractions. Of course you have to be happy with the results, but try to be constructive in a Lean Startup kind of way. Meaning: keep everything simple, and allow yourself to make changes after a version 1 has been released. You probably won’t nail everything the first time, so that’s a healthy approach to have towards things anyways…
2. Not emphasizing your personality enough
You want to stand out among boring and dry brands/sites? Show your personality. Don’t average yourself down. This might be a challenge for some, because you don’t want to shock people or push them away if they don’t like what you say. But hey, at the same time it’s a filtering of your target audience. You’re filtering out the people who don’t like your attitude, and who you might have trouble with anyways. And better still: you attract the people who appreciate you as you are.
While being a business strategy, in application it can feel like magic: We sometimes get enquiries from people who really touch us, because their writings and thoughts are highly compatible with ours.
Wouldn’t you want to experience goosebumps while checking your emails? Make sure to emphasize your personality!
3. Assuming your collaborators will find out about the details of your personality
So you are that complex being. Make sure to find ways to break it down a bit. Don’t expect your branding agency to be mind readers. If they’re experienced, they’ll ask you specifically for those things. If they’re not (maybe because you think hiring someone cheap on oDesk is good value), make sure to be proactive about that.
Look for a language they understand. There are many “maps” to describe personalities with, for example:
- Psychological personality types
- Astrology/sun signs
- Yogic chakras
- Human design
- … you name it!
It doesn’t matter which one you go for, as long as both sides speak the same language. If that sounds too weird for you, you can also outline your personality in the form of a business avatar.
Know thyself. And don’t take thyself too seriously. Have fun, be authentic, and let everyone involved know who you are. Then your designer will also get you.