Summary: You don’t need quirk to apply personality to your content. Embracing that existing personality, in context, will help you create better content that’s more relevant and engaging.
I’ve given a talk many times over the past year called “No one cares about your content (yet)”, which is primarily designed to help give a framework for consistently relevant content creation. I argue therein that the focus on consistency in output (“we need to blog every day”) often leads to less helpful or interesting content—if you don’t have a way to stay relevant. I then propose that viewing content as a conversation can lead to being sustainably relevant because it forces you to impose social mores and understand a user’s underlying assumptions.
That’s a whole talk, but I want to briefly focus on the concept of “brand personality” in content creation.
I gave a very focused version of this talk this past week at Conversion Conference in Berlin, and I spent some time on the idea that personality is what we look at in others that often determines whether we enjoy their company or not. It’s something that simply matches up with others and creates great friendships. Just as well, a personality can repel us from others, or cause others not to engage with us at all. Though it can be somewhat divisive, it’s useful for ensuring everyone’s needs are met.
In this same vein, I propose that brands need to find their personality and express it fully. This concept isn’t original to me; I borrow heavily from the popular Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter. But, after some discussion following my talk in Berlin, I understand how this can be confusing for many companies—after all, the example I gave for personality was Wistia, and Aarron showcases brands like Tapbots and Carbonmade.
“We can’t have quirky cartoon mascots or funny animations. We don’t have a heartwarming, emotional backstory. We just do X.”
Here’s the thing: you still have a brand personality—it’s the context that’s different.
When you (as a person) interview for a new job, you’re essentially just sitting at a table with a few different people and talking about work. If you’re like most folks, you want to be yourself, but you also want to make a positive impression. Now, consider how these two situations would differ:
- You’re meeting three people you’ve never talked to at their office, which you’ve never been to.
- You’re meeting three people you’ve never talked to at a bar you’ve never been to.
Just that singular shift in context will likely affect your dress and demeanor—probably even your body language. You’ll adapt your personality to suit your context. But, in either case, you’ll want to show that you’re smart, well-spoken, friendly, and appropriately funny (maybe).
If your company provides enterprise-level IT security, you probably don’t want bright colors and animations and sarcasm defining your brand. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have a personality, though! You’re intelligent, attentive, alert, and focused. You don’t need quirk to apply personality to your content.
A great, basic step to discovering this for any brand is to talk to your existing customers and ask them to describe you as a company. See what adjectives start popping up, and compare those with adjectives you’d like to see used. Pick a few of those, and use that as a starting point. Filter every piece of content through those adjectives. When you’re ready to write a new blog post, ask yourself, “Is this article X, Y, and Z?” If you’re not sure, ask someone who’s not involved in the process, and get a truly objective opinion.
Embracing your personality, in context, will help you create better content that’s more relevant and engaging.