by Melissa Woodson
Storytelling is perhaps the oldest form of marketing. Long before the written word existed, stories were created and passed along orally from generation to generation.
Over time, certain patterns and characteristics emerged that still exist today in modern storytelling mediums like books, movies, television and even commercials. Some might say that marketing is simply storytelling with an underlying motive of selling a product or idea. Creating a brand persona is simply a way to tap into the storytelling archetypes (a universally recognized character or idea) that have been successful for as long as stories have been told.
In marketing terms, a “brand persona” is simply a way to better understand your target audience. By creating a brand persona, your brand will be far more memorable and accessible.
Some of the most popular archetypes (personas) that exist are self-explanatory — think the Altruist, the Creator, the Regular Guy or Gal, the Caregiver or the Explorer. Each archetype has a universally recognized set of characteristics or ideas attached to it. For example, a Regular Guy might wear jeans and a T-shirt, watch sports on television and eat pizza. Associating your brand with one of these archetypes does most of the work of defining your brand persona for you.
There are several steps to identifying a brand persona for your company.
Understand whether or not this persona will be used internally or externally. Perhaps there will be a different brand persona for each segment of the target audience. Define those segments.
Define each of these segments demographically. Think about gender, age, education level and income. Are they married? Do they have kids? Where do they live?
Make sure that the archetype you use as your brand persona can be associated with the same values, opinions and beliefs of your target audience. If you are marketing to a mostly young, liberal audience, using an ultra-conservative archetype, like an older businessman, doesn't make sense — using a young hipster archetype, on the other hand, does make sense.
Once you've identified who your target audience is, you'll be able to associate them with a specific archetype. Your final step is then creating the persona either by hiring a model, buying an image from an online stock photography website or perhaps even creating a character with simple text.
The closer this persona is to a recognizable archetype and the more unique it is to your particular brand, the more popular it will be with your target audience. A brand persona is one of the most efficient ways to market your brand, and finding one that works should be a priority in any successful marketing campaign.
This article was written by Melissa Woodson, community manager for Washington University in St. Louis’ @WashULaw, a top-tier online llm degree in U.S. Law. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.
Twitter: @HungryHealthyMJ | Website: HungryHealthyMJ.com