Give Your Brand A Personality
Use This Approach To Build a Connection With Your Customers, Share Memorable Stories, and Drive ROI
If you are a founder/CEO of your business, I can’t stress enough how important it is to connect directly with your customers. Whether you run a product based, service based or a SaaS company, you will see positive results by becoming a visible personality in your brand.
If you take a step back and look at your marketing, and your competitor’s marketing, you will probably find that most of the focus is on the product or service you/they offer; what problems it’s solving and the list of features that make it unique. And if you are a step ahead of most brands, then your marketing has a second, even more important layer, which is all about your customer, the problems they had before discovering your product, and how they have so much to gain if they make a purchase.
But the truth is, customers want more from brands.
Neither of the marketing approaches I’ve just described do enough to build the human to human connection your customers crave. It’s always been important to connect with people in sales, but especially in today’s post-covid world, making that human connection has become possibly the most important thing you can do in your marketing to draw loyal customers. The good news here is that by simply giving your brand a face, specifically THE face of your company founder, and showing why you do what you do, you’re going make a connection that stays in people’s minds and even in their hearts.
Whether you are building a sales funnel for your offers, nurturing existing customers, or building brand awareness, the personality of the company founder is going to give a human touch to all of your other messages. Telling the creation story for your company from the perspective of the founder gives credibility to marketing claims and provides a memorable backstory to the sales messages that you are using today. When you share your founder’s perspective on new ideas, products, and struggles on a regular basis, it will strengthen your brand’s memorability and build a lasting connection with customers.
An established founder/CEO personality attracts new customers and builds trust, which in turn increases customer lifetime value and ROI.
Steps to establishing the founder/CEO as a personality in your marketing.
- Introduce yourself
- Describe your life ‘before’
- Portray the light bulb moment
- Explain the solution
- Characterize the growing pains
- Identify with the audience
Step 1: Introduce yourself
This is where you establish your connection to your brand by simply introducing yourself and your role in the company. If you’ve never appeared publicly in any marketing messages for your company, you’re going to have to spend a lot more time on step one, figuring out the best way to summarize who you are and how you relate to the brand.
If you’ve been a personality in your brand more regularly, and are used to sharing parts of your journey and personality, then you can shorten your introduction in certain channels. Either way, make sure you introduce yourself every time you “show up” publicly for your brand because there are always new people showing up to your brand, and they need to know who you are.
Play around with how you introduce yourself and add in some unique tidbits about you, or come up with a fun nickname. Whenever it’s applicable, include a picture.
A note about photos. This isn’t about establishing professional credibility, it’s about creating relatability. Choose a photo that really feels like you, but also makes the connection between you and the brand. If you sell products used by families, then maybe choose a picture with your family. If you are an app developer or saas company you might want dress more casual like wearing a branded t-shirt or adding in something unexpected that shows your personality. If you are a woman in saas, simply your gender is going to make you stand out, so go ahead and use that to your advantage.
Step 2: Describe your life ‘before’
Step two is all about establishing the ‘why’ behind your product or service. But instead of just explaining why your product or service is important, this is a chance to give a picture of what the world looked like before your company came into being. Tell the story of how life was before you had the idea for your company and help your audience really see why this company means something important to you. Here is a list of questions to get you started.
- What problems did you run into regularly in your professional or private life?
- How did those problems make life more difficult?
- What frustrations did you deal with on a daily basis?
- Was there a personal reason that you started the company?
- Was there a gap in the market that you wanted to fill?
- Do you have a special talent or interest that led you to start the company?
You may not spend a lot of “airtime” actually sharing this part of the story (except perhaps in longer form content). But it will help you relate more honestly to the problems that your audience is having that can be solved by your company’s offers. Spend time really picturing who you were before you started the company, and remember to “bring that person” along whenever you show up to market your brand. This is kind of a “don’t forget your roots” sort of thing.
However, if you discover you have a really compelling “before” story, you may end up sharing it as often as you can. But for many folks, finding that really sharable content comes in the next step
Step 3: Portray the light bulb moment
Some founders have a literal lightbulb moment when the idea for their product or service came to them out of the heavens. If this is the case, it’s probably a story that’s been told over and over before, and it won’t be hard to put this story into an email, a paragraph on a sales page, or a creative social media post.
But if you don’t already know exactly when the idea first came to you, it will help to distill the memories of those early days down to a specific moment in time. If you didn’t come up with the idea for your company all at once, you can describe this “lightbulb moment” in stages, or pick the stage that is the most interesting to you, or that you think will be the most relatable to your buyers or users.
If your product is extremely technical, then you may want to stick with the “lightbulb moment” where you realized you could help other people with your idea and solve the problems in your own life. The idea for the product might end up being less important than the why behind the idea.
Share your lightbulb moment whenever you have an opportunity for long-form content. This story can be used for an email or a serial of emails, or on a podcast interview. You can also use a condensed version of your “lightbulb moment” story to introduce a product feature or a special offer in your ads, social posts or videos.
Experiment with it, have fun with it, and don’t be shy about sharing your story repeatedly… people need to hear things more than once to remember them.
Step 4: Explain the solution
This is a chance to describe your product, service, tool, membership, or whatever you have created, directly to your audience. This step is where most marketing begins. But in this context, the message is more relatable, because rather than focusing on the product itself, you have a chance to explain how you created the solution, and why you care about it. For this portion of your founder’s story, you can focus on the parts of the company that you are most proud of, what features you find the most useful or exciting, and why you are passionate about bringing this solution to more people.
As time goes on, you can include more information about the “solution” from the perspective of the founder as a useful way to highlight certain benefits, introduce new products, or simply give a human face to the brand and boost your like-ability. You’ll also want to go into how you created systems as you expanded and how you made your solution accessible to more and more people while still delivering the same results.
Continue to unpack your solution and how it works and make sure to include anecdotes and perspectives from your own vantage point as the founder. This will keep your story front and center and help your audience relate more deeply with the solutions you are presenting, and with your brand as a whole.
Step 5: Characterize the growing pains
Every human story involves two essential elements. First, the story needs a hero, which we’ve established the founder of the company. But in this step, you begin to show how the brand is the real hero of the story.
The second necessary element to every story is struggle. You first introduced struggle when you described your “life before” and how it lead up to the “lightbulb moment.” But that was more of a personal struggle. When you characterize the growing pains, you show how the company overcomes adversity, and continues to move forward. This next step is important in humanizing your brand, and making the connection between the founder and the many other people who are involved with the company… including your customers.
When you choose growing pains and struggles to share, make sure they are easy to describe and that people in your audience can relate. You might include this step as part of the overall story of the founder, for instance on a sales page, or you may share this type of content in a post, a single email or a sidebar.
Over time your brand will benefit from sharing different struggles as they come up, or as throw back stories that relate to something you want to share about the product or company today. This type of content is all about being vulnerable in order to create a connection with your audience. Sharing this part of the story is going to make people trust you and feel more connected.
Step 6: Identify with the audience
This last step is all about filling in the story with personal anecdotes, quirky details, and ideological proclamations. As a founder you are sure to have a myriad of quirks, stories and personality flairs that make you unique. Don’t make the mistake of hiding these things from your professional audience, because these are the personality characteristics that make you and your company the most memorable. For many companies, the ideal customers types have a lot in common with the founder, so this is your chance to make a connection to those people who are going to be most likely to become raving fans of your brand.
Imagine you are introducing yourself to someone at a party and you want to make sure they will remember you the next day, even after meeting dozens of other people at the same party. You would have to do or say something extremely interesting, something you know is unique and will set you apart from the sea of people. The same principles apply to introducing the founder to the brand audience; tell stories and anecdotes in an interesting way and show how you and your brand are different from your competitors.
This step comes last in my article, but it is not linear like the other five. The point here is to let your real personality shine through and help your audience make a connection between your brand’s “personality” and the fun things about the founder that make you unique. I could have easily put this step first because the fun parts of your personality, whatever makes you YOU, should be a part of connecting with your customers and prospects from the very beginning.
You can follow the six steps above on all kinds of different platforms. You could tell your founder’s story on your sales page, use it as part of an onboarding email sequence, or as excellent content on organic social media. Draw from these six steps if you are featured on a podcast, in a guest post on a blog, or in a YouTube video series. If you can think of a place to market, you can probably think of a way to connect as a founder with your brand’s audience. Depending on the platform, you may want to tell the whole story from start to finish, or you might break it up into different assets and share it along with other marketing messages. However you do it, give your brand a connection to the face and voice of the founder/CEO and you’re going to bring more interest and validity to your brand and build a connection with prospective customers.
Make that human connection… and you’re going to see an impact in your ROI and LTV.
A Note For SaaS
If you are an e-com app or SaaS company, very few of your competitors are doing this, so you are going to stand out from all the other apps and solutions out there. And if you take a look at the SaaS brands who feature their founder as a central personality in their brand identity…(go ahead, take a minute and think of a few) it’s an incredibly successful list.
Do we think there might be a connection there?
Hi! I’m Annie Aaroe, a b2b email marketing strategist. To find out more about story-driven, conversion email copy and strategy that’s tailored for e-com apps and SaaS brands, visit my website, aaroewriting.com, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.