How to build an authentic brand personality – Guest blog by Ellie Kime

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Usually when people say “They’ve got a great personality”, it’s followed by a “but” – but I’m not attracted to them, but there was no spark, but they were a bit too much. When I say it, however, it’s followed by an and – “and I wish they’d show it more”.

Now, as a personal branding copywriter, I of course am a bit biased. But – there’s that magic word again – I’m biased for a reason: because showing your personality in your brand works for everyone. It gives your current customers a better experience, and it creates a deeper and higher quality connection with your potential customers, increasing both the quality and the quantity of your business transactions. 

For so long, we’ve been told that personality and professionalism don’t work together; that we have to dial ourselves down in our businesses if we want to be taken seriously. I’m here to not only say that that’s 100% bullshit, but to also show you how to dial yourself up. We! Want! More! 

Why should you add personality into your brand?

The short answer to why you should cultivate brand personality in your business is because: it works.

Brand personality speaks to each layer of the know, like, trust sandwich (you know, like a BLT, but with a K). Sharing your personality helps people get to know you more, which leads into appreciating what you do, which crystallises into trust in you and what you have to offer. According to one study, these emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value (yep, you read that right), and are much more likely to recommend brands to peers (71% vs. 45%).

So what about the long answer? Well, that’s: because life’s too short not to. I count this as the “longer” answer because context is important, and there are always mitigating factors for any decision – everyone’s business is different. However, the fact that you’re even reading this blog (thanks, by the way, to website and branding designer, That’s Her Business for having me!) suggests to me that you’re curious about adding more personality into your brand, and I really do believe that as long as you want to add personality to your brand, that’s as much a reason as you need. 

And non-believers, I hear you saying: but my industry is too serious for personality. And to that, I reply that if the Lenox Hill neurosurgery department – global leaders in their field –  can see the benefit from adding some personality into their presence, then I hazard a guess that you will too.

Side note: personality and boundaries can co-exist

A caveat I always ensure to put on this conversation is that adding personality to your brand doesn’t suddenly mean that everything is on the table and nothing is off-limits. You can still very much pick and choose which parts of your personality you show and make part of your plans, and keep some all to yourself. 

How to add brand personality

In your branding

This might seem a bit of a Captain Obvious thing to say, but I do think branding is still an oft-overlooked spot for adding some of your personality. The visual elements of your branding – your logo, your colour palette, any brand marks and more – can convey your personality without uttering a single word (in the same way that you know your mum’s best friend Maggie was the ‘fun’ one because of her brightly patterned trousers and big chunky necklaces.) 

And you know who to call for brilliant small business branding and design, of course…

In your photos

Headshots don’t have to be boring, and neither does stock photography. Feel free to have brand photography that actually reflects you at work – in fact, I insist that you do. 

Now when I say this, I don’t mean take photos with a stained sweatshirt and WFH messy bun – even though by some cruel trick of the universe they’re usually when my hair looks its best? – unless that’s the vibe you wanna put out there, in which case: go for it.

What I do mean is don’t feel like you have to wear a suit skirt or a soft camel-coloured outfit if what best reflects you is a slogan t-shirt and Lucy and Yak’s. 

(I’ve got a list of UK personal branding photographers, and Gemma’s also recommended her absolute favourite female branding photographers too.)

In your copy

What kind of a copywriter would I be if I didn’t urge you to include your personality in your words, too? 

I see so many small business owners who iron their personality out of their copy, whether intentionally or otherwise. By attempting to try to sound more ‘professional’, what transpires is just pretty plain. This in turn does nothing for their brands and businesses, because at best it sounds a bit too Generic Jenny, and at worst it sounds like AI.

A good place to start in adding more personality in your copy is by creating a Tone Of Voice for your brand. How does your brand speak (e.g. chatty or more formal?)  What kind of language does it use (e.g. loads of slang and Gen Z references)? How does it approach things (is it more literary, with multiple clauses, and liberal use of em dashes? Or is it more precise and scientific? Is it straight and to the point?)? Are there any words/phrases that are no-gos (e.g. swearing, Tiktok references, song lyrics)? Does it have a particular energy to it, like your cool older sister or your matter-of-fact uncle? How does it feel about exclamation marks?!!!!!!!!!!

Build out this voice into a TOV document that you can refer back to whenever you’re writing in your business, to ensure it sounds right. This tone of voice can mirror yours, or it can be different to you if that’s not right for your business – overall, it just needs to be something.

Once you’ve got an idea of your TOV, you can add personality confidently into every bit of copy. Captions, emails, blog posts, website pages – of course, these all benefit from a liberal dose of you. But there are also bits like your Error 404 page, your out of office email and more that are perfect for some zhuzhing, to further deepen your relationship with your customers and enhance their experience. (I booked a client off the back of my “sent from iPhone” signature, once.) 

In your customer journey

And speaking of experience – my final suggestion on where to add some personality is to pepper it throughout your customer experience (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled personality, etc.) 

As small business owners with 85000 things to be doing at any one given time, templates can be a lifesaver – but they can also be hella boring. Spruce up your email templates, forms and onboarding flows to continue maximising that customer journey even when you’re not actively on it, and use video software like Butter.us for fun, engaging meetings and webinars (affiliate link).

And when we’re thinking about the client experience, we don’t have to stop at the technology; we can think about the IRL experience too. Whether your office is more Barbie’s Dream House or the Mojo Dojo Casa House, create a WFH business space that feels like you; it’ll ease more friction in your calls and content creation. And why not think about fun gifts for your clients, to welcome them at the start of your time together, congratulate them on a milestone or thank them for being there? That’s a gorgeous personal touch that I help clients with all the time, as a cherry on top of the cake.

No ifs, buts or maybes

So, to recap: personality and professionalism go hand in hand, and you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. This means you can show your personality and still earn money – in fact, you might be even more successful. Hurrah! You can show your brand personality in your visual identity, your photos, your copy, and your customer journey. If you want help with the last two, I’d love to work with you over at Eleanor Mollie; and if it’s the first two you’re looking for assistance with, then That’s Her Business is going to be your ticket to getting there.

Can’t wait to see you out there – by which I mean really see you.

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