Smart, safe, or sexy: what's your brand persona?

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A strong persona helps your brand stand out from the crowd
A strong persona helps your brand stand out from the crowd

Step beyond the data to the true essence of a brand.

Whether you are promoting a celebrity, a consumer campaign or a biotech product, developing a Brand Persona can help a brand come to life in the mind of the target audience.

What is a Brand Persona?

A Brand Persona is an identity or character that can help an audience visualize the brand as a living, breathing person who can affect the lives of others. A Brand Persona must be believable and relevant, and it should make an emotional connection with the end user.

A Brand Persona can reflect a variety of traits. Is your brand an expert in high tech and the cutting edge? Does your brand project power and confidence? Is it nurturing and comforting?

Of course, you want your brand to have the qualities that would attract your target audience. So, ask yourself, “If your brand were a person, would you want to hang out with it?”

Brand Personas: the good, the bad and the ugly

Brand Personas should remain consistent throughout the lifespan of the product. You can change up a campaign, but it should still reflect the core essence of the brand.

As a rising star, Madonna was continually changing her look and image to reflect the evolution of her musical style and direction. While some might say this change in image portrayed inconsistent branding, she actually used it to her advantage and created her own unique persona of “the chameleon.” Everyone wanted to know what Madonna would do next and looked to her to set music and fashion trends.

On the other hand, Las Vegas failed miserably when it decided to go against its established persona and promote itself as a family destination. How can you take a place built on debauchery, gambling and adult entertainment and make it kid-friendly? It thankfully went back to its roots, with a great campaign that recognized the sinful nature of the town and that played up the true Vegas experience—“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

And what happens when a persona fails to live up to expectations? Two words: Tiger Woods. The lesson learned here is to be sure you deliver on the promise of your Brand Persona.

Building a Persona through a Branding Workshop

Of course, messaging for a biotech brand comes from available data. So, what tools do you use to determine your Brand Persona and essence?

Brand Workshops are an excellent place for marketers to start evaluating what a brand should stand for.

Gather a multidisciplinary team from all areas (marketing, research, finance, clinical development, etc) to ensure that the product is viewed from all perspectives

  • Set aside a full day for the team to become immersed in the brand
  • Encourage participants to think outside the box and tap into their creativity
  • Discuss ways to help bring the product to life
  • Brainstorm key words used to describe the benefits of the product
  • Develop analogs to dig into the essence of the product (If the product were a mode of transportation, what would it be?)
  • Create a description of the product as if it were a person (Is it male or female? Where does it work? What are its hobbies and interests? What is its favorite movie?)

Ideally, a Brand Persona should be solidified well before launch and even before positioning. Once you know who your brand is, you can start bringing it to life through creative executions that will truly connect with your audience.

As with most pre-launch activities, building a believable persona takes time. In the meantime, I'm going to go grab a drink and evaluate my personal brand…

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