A brand’s position defines who the organization is, what it stands for and how it’s different from competitors. Strategic brand positioning is critical to drive meaningful and intentional business growth. That said, positioning is only effective when activated consistently and cohesively internally, externally and through digital and in-person interactions. Brand consistency is so important that respondents to Lucidpress’ State of Brand Consistency report estimated their revenue would increase by 33% on average if their organizations always presented their brands consistently.
Organizations that deliver brand consistency set better expectations for their stakeholders. These expectations attract the company’s ideal audiences — those who appreciate what the brand promises and are aligned with its values. Organizations that attract their target audiences by acting according to their promises establish greater brand affinity and loyalty because they deliver a consistent, believable and trustworthy brand experience.
Creating brand consistency across all interactions and channels is no easy feat. It takes strategic planning and thoughtful execution. Infusing the brand’s persona across the entire customer journey is an effective way for organizations to effectively deliver a consistent experience.
Live the strategic position with brand personas
A brand persona translates a brand’s essence into a human-like character with a personality, tone of voice, goals and aspirations, challenges, motivations and skills. It informs various foundational brand assets, including how a brand looks (visual identity), speaks (brand voice) and behaves (values and actions). An organization’s strategic position, including brand and competitive insights, should shape the persona’s character, so the persona can act as a filter for what a brand would or wouldn’t do or say. Ultimately, this filter helps keep the brand aligned with its promises and brand positioning.
Commonly used personality trait spectrums, including introvert vs. extrovert, analytical vs. creative and tactical vs. strategic, can add dimension and clarity to the brand’s personality. Personas also provide graphic designers with strategic insights that help them visually bring the brand to life through colors, images, icons and typography.
Regardless of where the brand shows up — via social media, on the website, at an event or during an in-store shopping experience — people should feel like they are interacting with the same person. The key to this brand consistency is to apply the persona to each step of the customer journey map.
Integrate the brand persona across the customer journey
Once the organization establishes its strategic position and defines the brand persona to support it, it must integrate that persona across every interaction a customer has with the business. Customer journey maps are an effective strategic tool to help organizations do this. The following steps can help companies map the customer journey and infuse the brand persona across it.
1. Start with customer personas
Most organizations have likely already created customer personas that assign a character and personality to the targeted audience segments, much like the brand persona does for a brand. If a company doesn’t have customer personas or needs to update theirs, it should first start by defining them, noting where each segment comes from, what questions they have and what they are trying to achieve. Understanding the feelings, motivations and questions of each customer persona can inform how the brand persona interacts with them.
Customer personas vs. brand personas:
A customer persona describes each targeted customer segment as an individual person with needs, goals, behavior patterns, values and more. For example, an athletic apparel company might develop a customer persona named Ashley to describe their target of busy, working moms. A brand persona defines similar attributes, except it assigns a personality to the brand rather than a customer segment.
2. Map the journey for each customer persona
A customer journey map tells the story of a customer’s experience from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship. It identifies key brand interactions and behaviors needed to attract and retain customers.
Each targeted customer segment should have its own customer journey map. These maps span the entire marketing funnel — from awareness to consideration, conversion and loyalty. Developing a clear understanding of each persona’s journey requires background research, which may include:
- A detailed review of CRM, website, and customer research metrics
- One-on-one or team meetings with sales, marketing, analytics and other teams that understand the customer experience
- Mapping exercises with the core brand strategy team
The outputs of this work are customer journey maps that help the team visualize where the brand persona must show up consistently and cohesively to create meaningful connections for each target customer.
3. Bring the brand persona to life across the customer journey
Finally, organizations can apply the brand persona to each step of the customer journey through communication. Each customer should feel like they are interacting with the same person at every step in their journey. For example, a brand persona described as compassionate should deliver compassion to customers in its language, tone and behaviors. A persona described as creative should demonstrate creativity through creative problem solving on behalf of the customer. For example, using creativity to resolve customer complaints efficiently or to accept product returns in new and innovative ways.
The brand should sound, behave and look consistent regardless of the communication channel. This consistency helps customers understand what they should expect each time they engage with the brand. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to meet or exceed those expectations through a cohesive and positive experience that establishes brand affinity, loyalty and trust.
Brand consistency is critical to support an organization’s strategic objectives and drive a positive customer experience. The marketplace is what decides whether a brand’s position is credible and believable. A brand’s strategic position can fail if the marketplace spots inconsistencies in how a brand says it will act and how it actually does.
The most effective way for organizations to deliver on their position is to ensure they deliver on the promises they make through their brand. Aligning brand personas with customer journey maps can help organizations effectively and consistently deliver on the experience they promise — no matter where they show up.
About Nicki Gibbs, EVP, Strategy
Nicki Gibbs leads strategy and services development at Beehive Strategic Communication. She has more than 20 years of strategic communication experience at Twin Cities PR agencies and on behalf of clients ranging from family-held businesses to multi-national organizations. Nicki helps companies discover, articulate and activate their authentic brand positions to reflect their purpose and values, and to meet the changing needs of the marketplace. Nicki’s ability to imagine what’s possible creates contagious enthusiasm that moves businesses forward.