Sometimes it’s hard for us to ascribe human characteristics to nonhuman entities likeSun shining through a forest businesses. But, you know, often they do have these characteristics – and it makes sense to think about organizations in this way. One of these traits is “personality” – that set of characteristics that often influence the way we see people. A business also has a set of characteristics that make up it’s “personality” and help define how those outside the organization view it, react to its brand, and interact with it.
An organization’s personality is derived from its foundational core values and mission. The organization’s brand is derived from that foundation – and its personality can be thought of as the way the brand interacts with the world around it. Think about “personality” as that layer that sits between the internal and the external and which helps the outside understand the inside (if managed well). And manage it we should.
Think about people you know (those you like and those you don’t). What words do we use when we talk about a person’s personality? They are fun, happy, irresponsible, morose, hardworking, trusting, trustworthy, loyal, humble, difficult, adventurous, boring, flaky, social, unsocial, funny, witty – and the list can go on and on.
Now consider companies and organizations you like (or don’t) – Apple, the IRS, McDonald’s, Shake Shack, BMW, Ford, Home Depot, a local restaurant, a small retailer in your neighborhood. Every one of them has some form of a personality. And I’ll bet within 60 seconds you can list at least ten adjectives to describe it.
Now let’s flip the exercise around. You are a business leader. What would be the ten adjectives you’d like your most important target customers and prospects to list? And (be honest) are they the ones you think they will list? Why or why not? Are you doing anything proactively to manage their perceptions? (Now this is getting a little deeper isn’t it?)
Managing your business’s personality can make a BIG difference in your success. It just makes sense, right? We strive to be around people we like, people we affiliate with, people we respect and whose values we understand, people we feel like we know. In a lot of ways businesses are no different. Consumers look for ways to interact with organizations that meet their needs and have an engaging personality. So, what steps can you take to create and cultivate your business’s personality?
- Develop an authentic voice – base it in your core values and your brand definition. This should include a carefully-designed target audience – and their
- Consider all the ways you interact (or can interact) with your audience – marketing, content, website, social media, in-person, via telephone, etc.
- For each type of interaction think about how you can shape your personality in the minds of your audience. A well thought out editorial calendar helps. And assign individuals responsibility for each piece. And don’t forget those everyday interactions we seem to take for granted – calls on the phone, emails, the tone of our website, and others.
- Spread the word. Make sure your team understands what you are trying to create – and how. Put a set of guidelines in place.
- Periodically step back and reevaluate how this is going. Include measuring how your target audience perceives your organization. Make adjustments as needed.
Go though the process and see how those audience/prospect/customer adjectives change. Like most important, strategic shifts it won’t happen overnight. But keep at it. Stay focused on that personality and the “voice” you use to communicate.