If someone asked you for brand persona examples, what would they look like?
If you were asked to describe your ideal customer as a complete human being, what do they look like? Do you have more than one type of ideal customer? Do these customers look like someone you know? Would you compare them to someone on television? Could you pull a stock photo and build a story around them?
Today I’ll be talking about dream personas, and sharing some brand persona examples and models you can use to get a better picture of who you’re trying to reach.
What is a brand persona?
In the simplest terms, a brand persona is a personification of someone who is interested in what you have to offer. These could be modeled off your current client base, or they could be based on a customer or client you aspire to attain. The more you identify about this persona, the better your targeting and messaging will be later on. Even if it seems like a cheesy activity, I don’t think it’s good to skip it.
Your persona has pain points – things that keep them up at night – that can be removed through your products or services. They may also have objections that could keep them from opting into what you have to offer, so you’ll have to think about ways to overcome those objections. They should gain a specific value from what you do, and you may even be able to quote some of their most common complaints or passing comments.
When I create a brand persona, I try to make it feel as real as possible. That includes finding a stock photo and naming them. If you create something that feels real, you’ll find yourself coming back to it when you’re working on creating content, building services, and choosing targeting criteria for advertising.
Targeting is hugely important. You need to think about how you can reach this audience. What social media platforms do they use? What do they read and watch? This will help you make decisions about where to spend your advertising money. Maybe they’re even more likely to choose something based on word-of-mouth, leading you to build up your referral networks.
Dividing into target audience types
The world is vast, and people are varied. How do you know where to start when you’re creating your brand persona?
Coding and creating your own brand persona types
First, you might want to start by choosing basic categories of what your brand persona is and what it isn’t. And, if you have two, you’ll want to think about how your target audience types play into one another, and where they might conflict.
The process could start with you gathering data on your current client base – remember, only include the clients or customers you’d like to keep getting – and start identifying their traits. This could come from interviews or surveys (more on that a bit later). Once you start to see patterns emerge, you might be able to assign common categories or traits to your persona types.
Using the 5 dimensions of brand personality
If you’re not into starting from scratch, you’re in luck. Jennifer Aaker developed 5 Dimensions of Brand Personality in 1997, and the model is still holding fairly strong today. While I have seen some arguments in academic circles over its strength, when you google “brand personality categories” or something similar, you’ll see Aaker’s model, or something very close to it, all over the internet. Using the model can be a great jumping-off point to identifying your brand personality, and what personas would be attracted to that brand personality.
The 5 main dimensions of a brand personality, and the facets under these dimensions, are as follows:
- Upper Class
I’ll be going through the importance of brand personality and voice and the various tools I use to pin that down in future blogs, but for now, I want you to think about this: If you are solid on your brand personality, it makes it much easier to find your target persona. Here’s an example.
You sell self-cleaning pants
Say you’re a company that sells these magical self-cleaning, almost indestructible pants. They resist dirt, grime, and water, and if they happen to get a bit dirty somehow, the silver woven into the pants resists bacteria and keeps them smelling, looking, and feeling clean. They’re perfect for people who have some rough-and-tumble travels in front of them and don’t have a lot of room to pack changes of clothes.
Based on the personality dimensions and facets above, what would you say the brand personality is? Probably ruggedness & outdoorsy, right? Perhaps tough? But maybe your brand wants to highlight the “techy” side of the pants – outdoorsy with a bit of a high-tech spin.
A brand persona example could be something like this:
Jess is an avid hiker who has set her sights on the American Discovery Trail next. While she knows she’ll have drops along the way for food and replenishing other supplies, she wants to make sure she has clothing that is up to the task and doesn’t take up too much space in her limited pack. Jess shops at REI and Patagonia. She’ll pay extra for quality – the last thing she wants is something to fall apart when she needs it the most. Jess is into tech and has a Garmin that can operate on battery saver for over a month and can be partially charged by the sun. She reads Outside magazine, shops at her local co-op, and is extremely brand loyal to the local hiking supply store in her area. She also reads Wired and loves learning about brands that offer new and innovative things. While she wouldn’t object to paying more for good pants, she might not buy something that doesn’t have a lot of good reviews already, opting more for established brands with proven track records. However, if someone well-respected in hiking endorsed the pants, she would be more likely to buy them. A recommendation from a friend would also work. So, how would we reach Jess?
Facebook / social media targetingWe could run target ads on platforms like Facebook using some of the things we know about Jess to reach out to her – building an audience based on people who like – Patagonia, REI, Outside Magazine, Wired, Garmin, co-ops, and so on.
Digital or print magazine advertisingWe could also run ads in Outside Magazine, either via digital or print, or target people who visit certain website categories with Google Ads.
Influencer marketingWe could partner with someone influential and trustworthy in the hiking scene to test and recommend the pants.
Referral / affiliate marketingWe could also incentivize people who are likely to recommend the pants to Jess to do so by offering referral or affiliate bonuses – giving Jess $25 off and the referrer gets $35 off their next pair, for example. The more the person feels real and aligned to your brand personality, the easier it is to create a realistic brand persona example and build targeting and messaging around it.
How many brand personas should you target?This is a tricky question that only you can answer, but my advice would be to stick to one or two at the very most to start. It’s very common for me to encounter clients who want to do everything at the same time. However, if you say that your target audience exists between a broad revenue level and could be in one of twelve industries looking for 6 or more services, when you try to speak to them, you may find yourself saying nothing that grabs anyone. Catering to everyone is truly catering to no one. Just because your messaging is focused on one brand persona doesn’t mean you’re closing the door to other types of customers or clients. It just means that the specific person you are targeting is more likely to engage with your content.
How often should my brand persona change?I may surprise you, but I don’t believe that creating a brand persona should ever be a one and done exercise. Once you’ve created your target personas, keep an eye on them. Revisit them more frequently in the beginning (perhaps every quarter) and tweak as you go along and learn more about what messaging is and isn’t working. People change and so should your targeting. Once you know more, you can improve upon your plan!
What are some examples of brand persona documentation I can use?Believe it or not, I’ve created a few templates for creating brand personas over the years (and if you want to do some one-on-one work with me on that, lemme know), but here are some good sections to include if you’re doing it yourself:
- Demographics: Age, gender, where they are in the world, stage of life they’re in, parenthood status, career or title
- Psychographics / Behavior: What do they buy, what do they like, what do they read, what are their motivations?
- Pain Points: What is causing them pain right now that you could remove
- Value you can provide them
- Common complaints
- Common objections to your service
- How you can overcome those objections
- Your elevator speech to your target persona
- Testimonials that sound like your persona