Photo credit: Kyle Hale

In my last article, I talked about why it’s not enough to keep a blog, run a newsletter, or start up a Twitter account. Content marketing is a fantastic strategy for many businesses, making a huge impact on awareness, leads, and, ultimately, sales. But. BUT without a consistent brand personality, it all falls flat.

But once you’ve identified your brand personality—once you’ve said, “we’re all about compassion and passion. We use words like change, world, beautiful, and you. We are strong and assertive” or whatever it is you’re going to say about your brand—now what?

The answer: now your personality impacts every single other thing you do.

First comes personality, then comes style guide.

If you’ve ever tried to write an editorial style guide—particularly in a large company with a lot of authors—you know it’s hard work. Getting writers to agree on the Oxford comma is a near-impossible feat. And don’t even try to talk about how you’re going to capitalize a headline.

People are attached to their words, their way of communication. And, hey, it makes perfect sense. It’s scary to think we haven’t been communicating the “right” way or the best way. It’s scary to think of ourselves as misunderstood or irrelevant.

Which is why defining a brand personality is just what your editorial style guide needs in order to finally get finished.

Not only will your brand personality make it easy to make decisions (because of course an irreverent personality would use the more casual webpage vs. Web page, right?), but it also takes the emotional charge out of the decision. This isn’t about a right way vs. a wrong way of communicating. It’s not about personal preference anymore. It’s suddenly (and wonderfully) about how a specific personality should talk, write, and communicate.

And speaking of style…let’s talk design

I don’t talk about design that often, but let’s break that trend today because effective design is a vital component of content marketing. The style, organization, colors, and lines can all contribute to or detract from your goals as a business and, even more importantly, your users’ goals. Which is why personality is such a brilliant thing to define up front.

Just as personality dictates how you’ll talk (which we in the content community call voice), it should also dictate how you design.

Think about personality in the usual sense: someone who identifies themselves as fun and tomboyish will talk, act, and dress differently than someone who identifies as smart and serious. Smoldering looks different than sweet.

It’s the same with your brand—which encompasses everything from your main website to your new blog to your newsletter to how you present at conferences.

So it only makes sense that having a well-thought-out and easily described business personality will help your designer dress your brand accordingly.

And then there’s everything else

Finally, here’s the best news about defining a personality up front and sticking with it: it doesn’t just dictate your styles, colors, and words. It helps you make decisions about every single thing your business does.

Here are just a few of the other things your personality can help dictate:

  • What conferences and networking events you attend or sponsor
  • Which social media networks you use
  • How often you blog/email/etc.
  • Where you advertise
  • Who you partner with
  • Who you hire

Now, of course, your target market, business goals, budgets, and resources should also always be taken into consideration…but all those things should be easily integrated with your business personality as well.

I’ll leave you with an example:

Let’s say Company X is an ad agency. Their expertise is travel and tourism. And their brand personality is sophisticated, confident, and international. If their brand were a person, she would be a jet setter. She’d spend her days commanding respect across the globe. Nothing would ruffle her feathers. Flight delays? No problem. Last-second deadlines? Piece of cake.

When determining which of the many travel conferences across the world that they should attend, the company could turn to this personality. What conferences would this woman attend? What conferences would she thrive at? Where are the people who want to hire her?

Asking these questions could help considerably narrow down the options and find the right audience for this company.

Agree? Disagree? Have a thought to add?

We’d love to hear your experiences, thoughts or questions. Drop us a note in the comments below.