Effective branding creates a psychological connection between a “thing” and the people who’ll willingly pay money for that “thing.” In my own branding, I’ve always done what came naturally. I didn’t start out by thinking about rules or processes. Over time, though, I realized that much of what I was doing could be put into a formula — the “three P’s” — to teach others my branding processes.
My formula for branding, based on the processes I’ve used in my own business, is:
Passion + Personality = Persuasion
(where the final goal is to persuade people to give us money to help them).
The root of it. Your first question should be, “What am I passionate about?” Consider whether you are passionate about a product or providing a service, because there is a difference. You might find that while you thought the product was your passion, it is actually the delivery of services and the experiences that surround it. Your passion does not always have to be directly about the work, either. If you can take a passion for something in your personal life and apply that feeling to the part of your work that resonates with you, your work will reflect that passionate energy.
For example, I do divorce work but my passion is not for divorces per se. I don’t wake up and say, “Yay, divorce!” My passion is for delivering a service that is non-intimidating and as stress-free as possible for people who are going through the divorce process.
Even robots have personalities. Most humans want to do business with other humans, not with robots. (Though if being kind of robotic is part of your brand, then absolutely give your brand some robot personality of its own!) How do you give your brand personality? These tips are so intertwined that they may seem redundant, but together they form the core of establishing your brand personality:
- Be human. Or a robot with personality!
- Tell a story. Stories touch the soul and make real-life connections between people. Share your experiences with others to establish a connection.
- Be relatable. Being human and telling stories makes you more relatable to others and removes some of the intimidation potential clients might feel in contacting you.
- Have a unique voice. Sound like yourself. Instead of trying to use big words and legalese all the time, write and speak as if you were with your friends. Whatever your speaking style is naturally, bring that into your communications.
- Be authentic. It may sound counterintuitive, but you’ll need to dig really deep to find the right words, images and stories that best represent the way you feel about your work.
For example, stuff I post on social media is not just law related. I include a lot of things I find personally amusing or that show my personality. I post stuff about coffee and things that make me laugh. It shows the world that I have a personality to which people outside the law business can relate.
The goal. Merriam-Webster defines “persuade” as “to cause (someone) to do something by asking, arguing, or giving reasons.” Emotion is not part of the definition, yet without an emotional connection, it is impossible to have the same kind of influence. Wanting to persuade someone is not a bad thing. It’s natural to want others to think like we do and agree with us, and it should come as no surprise that the way to grow your business is by persuading people to pay you for your services. But how does Passion + Personality translate into persuasion? Passion and personality build trust and rapport.
Storytelling accomplishes it quite nicely. A good, compelling story appeals first to emotion and then to logic. Telling a story that makes you likable or relatable will create an emotional connection with your audience/clients, and will build trust once they like you and know you are human just like they are. They will want to do business with you if they trust and like you.
Piece by Piece, Pulling It Together
How does Passion + Personality = Persuasion work in real life? Let’s fill in the equation using my examples:
- My passion for delivering a non-intimidating, low-stress legal experience appeals to people because (1) everyone wants as little stress as possible, and (2) it shows that I care about the experience, and people want someone to care about them.
- This, combined with showing my personality online by sharing my sense of humor (and love for coffee) creates an emotional connection (hopefully!) because people feel they can relate to me.
- And, ultimately, because of that emotional connection, they want to do business with me. (I have persuaded them.)
In the grand scheme of your business and branding — and all of your interactions — remember that everything falls somewhere into the three P’s equation. If a piece is missing, you will find it more difficult to get business. For some people, these tips might come naturally. But if they don’t for you, they can definitely be learned and practiced over time.