Giving E-Commerce a Persona: How to Develop Your Online Business’s Brand Personality

Companies have made different efforts and concluded different rules when it comes to branding, but one aspect of these methods brings the customer to the forefront and creates a bond with the brand – Brand personality. This is simply the method of creating a personality that compliments your target audience with the intention of creating an emotional/psychological bond with the company and products. They do so by focusing on what you as the customer are or wish to be, and emphasizing their products as a way of achieving or reaffirming this trait that you want.

Many companies have managed to brand themselves as symbols of personality types, ensuring that they are always the first thing that comes to mind when you think of who you are or who you want to be in a specific occasion, group or environment. CareerAddict lists 12 examples of brand personalities, and describes the message they are trying to send their target audience.

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(Another example is how Michael Kors branded itself as the sophisticated 20-something woman, as you can see in the image above)

Your e-commerce business’ personality can boost your success through psychology, primarily through relatability and creating the mental association between a style/persona and your products or services. This has to be carefully thought out and objectively perceived in order to achieve the best results possible. The following are the first questions you need to answer in order to determine your brand personality:


Who needs your product?

–    The most important filter you have to apply when defining your brand personality is who needs your product, (ex. if you’re selling dog accessories you won’t be targeting people without pets). This question helps you specify the general group you’ll be aiming to reflect in your brand personality

–    In the case of e-commerce businesses, one can assume that the potential customer is aiming for more options and efficiency regarding purchasing. This person is also familiar with online purchasing, which already gives you an approximate age group that could be your target audience. Now, depending on your products/services, the group becomes more specific, until you have the basic characteristics of your target audience (age, gender, etc.)


Where do they need your product?

–    Where your customers are is as important as who they are. This information can also add to your idea of who the person buying your product it. Do you sell globally, regionally, locally? This can also help with re-branding for every location. For example, many brands will do special re-branding for cultural events in specific markets, such as the Chinese market for New Year’s. Below is how Nutella commemorated the year of the Goat by redesigning the packaging for the season.

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–    Another reason why this is important is for logistical reasons; many e-commerce stores confine themselves to a certain distance from where they ship the goods due to high costs. Many have turned to fulfillment houses, which give them the opportunity to warehouse their goods closer to target markets, and assist in the logistical aspect of delivering the goods. It is always good to identify where your target audience is and immediately start planning for the most effective way to have the goods reach them and keep costs feasible for you.

 

What message does your customer want to send out to society?

–    At this stage your aim is to get as close to the identity of your target audience as possible. This requires you to take what information you have drawn from the previous two questions and see what type of personality would combine all of these traits. Who is the person who is this age, living in this area, and requires your product? What are their likes and dislikes? What relationships do they form with other people? What are their priorities? Gaining an image in your head as to who this person is will help you figure out your message to your audience and how to most easily bond with them.

–    After this the main point is to understand what they want to say with your product. Namely, what part of their personality made your product something they would want. This is your initial selling point when it comes to your brand personality. Find what appeals to them when it comes to their idea of themselves, whether it is something they covey or wish to convey to society.

A good example of brand personality is Nike, who focused on not only people that are already athletic, but those who wish to be. As you can see in the chart below, their focus on the athletic type is evident, but with slogans such as “Yesterday you said tomorrow” it targets those who aspire to become athletic, which widened their target audience and made their brand personality a coach that motivates you to strive to be healthy and athletic. Today, many people will buy Nike casualwear with the conscious or subconscious aim of projecting an image of athleticism, hence confirming the effectiveness of the Nike brand.

 

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An example in e-commerce is Etsy, which gives the personality of someone who makes quality products (in many cases hand-made) and personalizes the whole purchasing process. It emphasizes this in its slogan “the marketplace we make together,” immediately changing your perception of Etsy from a website with products (such as Amazon or Ebay) to a quaint market in a small town where people bring their DIY goods to sell and exchange among themselves. It creates a warm atmosphere and gives a mental image of a mother of three who makes quilts or house décor in her free time, and creates an emotional as opposed to rational approach to the products.

With these three questions you should already have an idea of who your customer is, and in turn who you are as a brand. The most popular characteristics in brand personality, according to researcher Jennifer L. Aaker are as follows:

ecommerce brand personality 4

These were determined to be the most effective, so if you are unsure of where to start with your personality, these five are good jumping-off point to develop your idea further. From here you should begin to build your brand with this persona in mind and should see results and customer loyalty, as long as your personality is loyal to your customer.

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