Marketing your small business is an ever-evolving project. Tweaking your message and staying in contact with customers are key components, but have you ever felt like you’re just not connecting with your audience? Sometimes, taking a step back and considering the personality of your business can be a game-changer.

In today’s modern small business marketing environment, companies with a consistent and compelling personality have seen greater success when it comes to enhancing their brand image. First, let’s define what we mean by a company’s personality:

A business with personality is one that has found a certain style and voice that speaks to their product and company atmosphere. Often times this is associated with a fun, laid-back or clever persona, which is used throughout their social media presence or website. In some cases the voice is needling or dry-witted as in the case of consumer-oriented online travel site Hipmunk. When you’re booking a hotel through Hipmunk and you select a checkout date more than 30 days away from your check-in date you’ll receive the following error message, “Why don’t you just move there? 30 days is the max.” While it would have been just as simple for them to say, “30 days is the maximum stay time per hotel,” they use this form of good-natured ribbing to inject a bit of humor. It can put customers at ease, give them a quick laugh and creates a memorable moment in the often stressful endeavor of booking a vacation.

Another excellent example of a strong brand personality can been seen in the South African discount flight provider, Kulula Airlines. Flying can nerve-racking for some, for others just picking which flight provider to use is the most difficult part. As a discount flight company in South Africa, Kulula needed to find a way to stand out. And they do so by allowing their personality to permeate every part of their brand. It starts with the planes themselves. One of their planes is painted with large lettering on the side saying “THIS WAY UP” and multiple arrows pointing to the sky. Some of the planes even have mustaches painted on the front of them. Next comes the in-flight experience; pilots and flight attendants on Kulula are famous for their quick wit and funny announcements. Overheard during one pilot’s welcome message was this gem, “Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!” Want to see more of the personality of Kulula? Check it out here.

So how do you inject personality into your company?  First you need to decide what kind of personality fits your business.

1) Who are you and who is your audience?

A lot of companies lean towards funny, relaxed personalities these days, but that’s not always the best option for your business. You need to assess what it is you’re selling or what solution you’re offering and how best to project yourself to your audience. You could portray a wacky, tech-savvy company that’s constantly tweeting memes and YouTube videos, but if your audience is a more serious or old-school, you might not resonate with them. Marketing agency Melamed Riley talks about the importance of researching other brands to get a sense of your own style, “…try researching the brands you wish to emulate, but be sure to avoid outright copycatting anyone. Pay attention to how your target audience communicates and tailor your brand’s voice accordingly. A bipolar brand personality is an easy way to confuse and alienate customers. Identify your audience, operationalize your personality and stick to the plan.” Which brings us to our second point…

2) Stay consistent

While it’s important to be creative and continually challenge yourself to improve your marketing efforts, your personality needs to stay consistent. Once you settle on your voice and tone, don’t stray too far outside of it. If you start testing out different personalities, you run the risk of confusing your audience. This is where it helps to draw up an outline of your online personality so that all members of your business can refer to it when tweeting, posting or blogging on behalf of your company. This will help ensure a consistent experience start-to-finish.

3) Tell a story

In the past few years, companies have begun to pull the curtain back on the internal workings of their business. We’ve seen inside offices, they’ve tweeted, Instagramed and posted pictures and videos on Facebook of their employees hard at work. By showing off your business and the type of activities that occur daily around your office, you can help provide consumers and customers an inside perspective of your brand. You can showcase the very personality that you’ve created, as it’s often reflected in your employees and internal environment. It also shows that you’re not projecting a false personality but that it is actually one that is fully embraced at all levels.

So now it’s your turn. Take a look at your audience and make a list of adjectives you’d want consumers to use if they were describing your company. This will help you get a sense of the personality that will best fit your business and resonate with your customers. Research similar businesses in your industry and find some that have done creative things with their online presence and discover similar ways to make yourself stand out. Eventually, you’ll have a fully fleshed out personality that’s perfectly tailored to you and your business.

Have you made any changes to your company’s personality or have tips for doing it? Let us know in the comments!

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© 2014, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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