Remember the girl from high school who always dressed as a witch?
A light industrial company in Virginia, selling air filtration systems approached me to help them with their marketing. They were stuck. They weren’t growing. They needed marketing advice and guidance.
I asked them how receptive they were to constructive criticism? Would they be offended if I told them they portrayed an image that was average, boring and plain old dull?
I told them that their brand was as interesting as white bread.
Fortunately, they knew they needed help and the last marketing advisor they hired only made them feel good. She wasn’t challenging their approach to the marketplace. She focused on tactics, but they didn’t have a strategy first.
They needed a clean start and someone to push them to a new level.
Remember the Strong Personalities from Your High School?
In our first meeting, I asked the leadership team to remember their days in high school. Who stood out? Who blended into the background? Why did you remember some folks but others just became part of the wallpaper?
The team created a list of ten people, and each was odd in some special way and had distinctive characteristics that made them memorable.
In a word, they remembered people who had a distinctive personality.
One manager remembered a girl who always came dressed as a witch. She was different than everyone else. Everything about her was always about magic, witchcraft and her mystical worldview.
Another manager remembered a guy who always wore a suit, carried a briefcase and dressed like he was going to law school even though he was about 14 years old.
The owner recalled a lanky, dude whose personality made him the resident hippie and he always dressed the part. Tied-dyed t-shirts, very long hair and he wore bell bottoms when they were way out of fashion.
Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.
I discussed with the team that If their company’s personality were bland, dull and just like everyone else in their space, no one would notice. I told them that they would never stand out, be memorable or uniquely recognized unless they are marketing themselves with a specific personality attached to their brand.
I gave them permission to have fun with their brand and not take themselves so seriously. This advice is also known as being more human. I advised them that they need to shine a light on a distinctive characteristic that fits with the image you want to portray.
Where to Start
We spent several hours discussing this topic and found a few popular culture images that help describe who they wanted to be. Mr. Clean was one that was easy to understand and connect with their brand. What if they could find their version of being Mr. Clean to the world?
I gave them four important tips in our first few weeks to start them on their clean journey.
- Be quirky, but relevant. Shine a light on a little quirky weirdness that no one else is highlighting that has a connection to what you do. Since you are a company selling air filters for industrial purposes, bring out your super nerdy, fastidious nature. Don’t hide from being clean freaks. Have fun with this attribute and include it everywhere from your website to the cleanliness of your front door. Make Clean Cool Again. Find your inner Mr. Clean and put him front and center in your messaging.
- Make Your Promotions Unusual. Create a competition among customers for the cleanest client. The winner gets a year supply of cleaning equipment. Remember, you are selling clean air, and air filters so wrap your brand and quarterly promotions around an activity that fits with your brand’s persona. Put everything through the Mr. Clean filter.
- Don’t Create a Boring Newsletter. Create a cleaning tip for the month. I suggested that they use their mailing list to reinforce the importance of clean by offer one core suggestion to keep a workspace bright, shiny and sanitary. These tips weren’t about selling air filters but building brand awareness and highlighting the company’s personality.
- Adopt a Non-Profit that Reinforces Your Personality. Find a non-profit that assists senior citizens to help keep their apartment clean? Or, find a graffiti removal cause in the inner city. Or work with a non-profit that helps clean laundry for the homeless. Do good and help reinforce the core essence of your brand’s personality. We take cleaning seriously.
How about You?
How would you describe the personality of your brand?
Can you find someone (real or imaginary) that is the symbolic representation of the brand personality you want to emulate? How does it fit with what you do?
If your company is blending into the category, maybe it is time to turn in that wallpaper personality for something that communicates who you aspire to become.
Need help to bring out your company’s personality in your marketing? I can help. And, as a bonus, I’m excellent at vacuuming. No really. I like to vacuum. 919 720 0995 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org