How do you craft a memorable personality online? Especially when it feels like EVERYONE is online ALL THE TIME.
Let’s start by understanding a strategy known as ‘brand personification’. It’s a branding approach in which consumers imagine and describe brands as if they were actual people. According to research, personifying a brand and providing it with distinctive human characteristics improves customer loyalty.
Traditionally for brands, personification has been a compelling, creatively satisfying, and intuitive way of taking a step back and gaining clarity on what kind of impression they’re making on the world.
Large corporations and small businesses have used this over the decades as a powerful strategy to operationalize reputation goals. Investing resources and dollars to carefully examine consumer needs and behaviour to cater to them better. Many times, this manifests in marketing as spokespeople, and brand ambassadors.
Fast forward to 2023, and we are all brands.
The nuanced but monumental shift is done no justice by the overused and “jargonized” phrase “personal brand”.
Take a day in the life of a typical small business owner, or corporate lead… There is little privacy. We’re on audio or video calls a lot of the time. Digital cookies mount! When we’re not, we’re on some type of platform that’s recording all of our habits and computing it to deliver convenience; or make money.
It sounds dark and hopeless.
And it can be.
One way to rescue yourself from being a statistic in a “Black Mirror” like sci-fi future storyline is to get intentional about your voice and presence online.
Crafting a personality on the interwebs really comes down to 3 things for me. In my book “Unboring: Take your content marketing from blah to brilliant” I explore the age of entertainment in marketing, and make a case that modern marketing is a veritable snoozefest. I offer 10 lessons on how to change it and craft a memorable voice for yourself.
For the purposes of this piece of writing, let’s focus on personality.
There are levels of personality to an online voice
Historically in humankind’s most challenging times, like pandemics and recessions, people struggle with their mental health. As marketers, communicators, and anyone with a voice online, we shape the messaging that the world sees. Bringing some levity to the party is not going to solve all the world’s problems, but it is going to make people smile; even if just for a minute! And it’s going to make people remember you.
The pandemic brought with it a higher state of consciousness, with many people reassessing their work, their lives, their clutter, their needs, and so much more. It’s unsurprising that 83% of participants in an 8,000 person global study conducted by Zeno Group on the “Strength of Purpose”, said companies should only earn a profit if they also deliver a positive impact. Exhibit A: Patagonia 💪
At an individual level spend time crafting your purpose and making it easy for the world to find. Think about what you want to put out into the world that means something. People may not remember what you did, or how often you showed up, but they will remember what you stand for.
Caution: This does not mean creating 50 Canva graphics with your mission statement on it and plastering it on all your social real estate! Instead, think much deeper and more purposefully. Make your purpose the spine of every piece of content that you put out in the world. And even further, allow it to guide every piece of content that you consume. This is what will give you a truly controlled digital footprint.
I have spent an inordinate amount of time reading and interviewing people on the concept of reciprocity. Initially, I saw a reciprocity rather simplistically; as an equation. Someone does something for me; and I need to do something for them in return. Ideally the exact same thing.
An example of this is from when my child, who is now a tween, was much younger. Often, other moms, particularly stay at home moms, would offer to pick her up and take her out for playdates with their own kids. And sometimes I would hesitate, and even say no, because I felt like I was unlikely to be able to repay that favor as an entrepreneur that was focused on scaling who worked 8 to 9 hours a day, and put my daughter in after school programs.
It took me a long while, and a particularly Illuminating conversation on my podcast, The 4am Report, with Tiffany Dufu, who is the author of ‘Drop the ball’ to fully understand that reciprocity is a flywheel. Tiffany explained that I would benefit from looking at things from the perspective that perhaps the stay at home mom who was happy to include my daughter did not need me to repay her by watching her kids; instead perhaps she needed me to open up my Rolodex and make some introductions that make something else easier for her.
Between that, and opening my eyes to a “pay it forward” philosophy, and training myself to learn how to receive things, I’ve come to really enjoy the flow of reciprocity. I opened my eyes to the fact that people want to help and that it’s not a hardship to them.
What this means in the marketing world is this:
- I start by constantly offering education and entertainment in all of my content
- I make myself available to speak to people who want support/an ear/a speaker/someone to educate students.
- I take a great deal of pleasure in being part of communities to offer my knowledge and network to
- And perhaps most importantly, I have learned to ask for help and introductions easily and often.
Curated brand examples of the 3 levels of personality at play
Here is some inspiration as you start to consider putting that framework into action.
If you have the book UNboring already, I’ve indicated which chapters delve into the details. If you don’t have UNboring, (buy it here on Amazon!) I have put in a few snippets from the book here 👇 to show you how some interesting brands are putting it into play.
How Bruce made pandemic health communication fun 👇
How Emily crisps PIVOTED hard and attracted enormous audiences with their magnetic and confident voice 👇
How Bumble rose to the pandemic challenge and kept their product which relies on face to face, alive. And well. They also set up safety standards for the industry and took firm stances and opened their wallets to support women. This is their UNboring voice 👇
Remember! This gets MUCH easier when you are an individual, and not a brand.
How will you use these principles to show up powerfully, and UNboringly, on the interwebs this week?
Drop me a note on email or on LinkedIn.