How HGB created its brand persona and why you should create yours

By HGB , Jan 27 2018
We had a good laugh in the office when we introduced Harriet Goldsmith-Black to the team last week.

Harriet is a warm, witty 30-year-old Waikato woman who is charismatic, intelligent and has great taste in shoes. She loves shopping at Kmart and isn’t afraid to ask, “Have I got something in my teeth?”

Harriet is the newest member of the HGB team, but she isn’t real – she is the fictional brand persona for HGB.

Why did we create Harriet? We believe every bit of communication you have with your audiences should help create a meaningful experience, by helping people understand more about who you are and why you do what you do.

A brand persona can help bring your brand’s unique personality to your content. This will help you create meaningful communications which establish rapport with your audiences and drive behaviours.

Like the fabulous team I work with at HGB, Harriet has style. Harriet’s language and tone brings a unique voice to our content which allows us to connect with people in a memorable, engaging way.

1. Understand what a brand persona is

A brand persona is a collection of personality traits, attitudes and values that guide your brand voice. It can take the form of a person, character, mascot, or idea.

At HGB we love creating and telling stories, so we had fun creating a person, with a story about who she is and where she comes from.

Developing Harriet helped us refine and finesse our brand voice. And it gives everyone responsible for writing brand content a clear guide as to the language, style and tone that should be used.

2. Know your core values

The core purpose at HGB is to create meaningful experiences. Everything we do stems from this purpose, from how we approach projects, through to how work with clients and with each other.

Your persona needs to personify your core purpose and values, as Harriet does for HGB, so knowing your why is essential before creating your brand persona.

3. Find your brand personality

Many moons ago, human behaviour researchers developed five fundamental personality traits. Based on these traits, you might find your brand fits into one of the following five personas:

  • Exciting: adventuresome, carefree, spirited, youthful
  • Sincere: friendly, genuine, kind, family-oriented
  • Rugged: rough, tough, outdoors, athletic
  • Competent: successful, accomplished, influential, a leader
  • Sophisticated: elegant, prestigious, pretentious

While this can be a good place to start, remember your brand persona should be unique, and needs to have its own attributes and characteristics.

4. Use Opposite attributes

One way to work out your persona’s personality is to create a list of opposite attributes. Decide where your persona sits on a scale between the two opposites.

Opposite attributes can include:

For Harriet, we created attribute statements to help describe her personality. For example:

  • She is busy, but not chaotic
  • She is intelligent, but not academic
  • She is confident, but not outspoken

5. Develop your story

As I said, we love telling stories, so a big part of creating Harriet was telling her story. We asked:

  • Where did she grow up? What school did she go to?
  • What kind of things stand out from her childhood?
  • Where and what did she study?
  • Where has she lived, both in New Zealand and overseas?
  • Where does she work? What’s she known for in her job?
  • What do her friends say about her?

We have turned these questions into a template you can download and answer for your business.

6. Use real quotes

There are so many ways of saying the same thing, for example think of how many different ways people order coffee in a cafe…

“Extra hot flat white with one sugar thanks.”
“I’ll have a flat white, extra hot, with one sugar, please.”
“Oh hello, just a small flat white for me please. Could you make it extra hot? Oh – and one sugar please. Actually, let’s make it a caramel shot. Thank you – have a nice day!”

Creating real quotes for your persona can help flesh out your brand voice. It can also help people responsible for creating content make decisions on how to say things. (Our mantra for brand content is, “what would Harriet say?”)

Things you might hear Harriet say in and out of work include:

“I’m sure I could find this cheaper at Kmart”
“Do we have a strategy in place?”

Now it’s time to introduce your brand persona to the team 

The laughs in the office were because Harriet is the perfect blend of things you’d hear from the HGB office… including “Is that salted caramel brownie refined sugar and gluten free?”

Make sure everyone responsible for writing brand content for your company is familiar with your brand persona.

Need a hand developing your company’s brand persona? Download our template to get you started.

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