Last week’s live Voices by Vuelio panel discussion examined what it takes to build a memorable brand personality, and the role PR and comms teams play in the process.
We were joined by Carlie Wittred, head of brand marketing & PR at Gousto, David Jinks, head of consumer research and head of PR & publications at ParcelHero, and Andrew Webster, director of communications and corporate affairs at British Heart Foundation.
Defining values and establishing an ethos
The value and ethos of your company play a central role in why customers resonate with a brand. This means that for a newer company it’s crucial to get those elements defined and cultivated early on. At Gousto, the team has always had a clear vision and purpose to become the UK’s most loved recipe kit provider, while having a positive impact on people. But developing and articulating a brand personality didn’t happen overnight. In the end, it was built around three C’s – confidence, colourfulness and creativity. Carlie summed up the process by saying ‘when you mix them all together, we talk about us having our Gousto swagger’.
At ParcelHero, David referred to their ethos, focusing on making it as easy to send a parcel as possible. In order to be successful, the message should be communicated in all aspects of the brand personality. The journey to build the brand that it is today has included changing their logo twice, once from a boy in a cape with a parcel to a red, white and blue globe, to their current stick drawings of people working with parcels. The company has also made a decision to remove all the jargon and technical terms from the customer service comms. David said ‘we’ve been taking out everything and basically simplifying as we want to make it as easy and inexpensive to send a parcel’.
An established brand like the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has deep rooted values that reflect its personality. The organisation was established by a group of cardiologists, which meant their ethos was built around being experts in their field and a trusted source of information. According to Andrew, the key drivers are a mix of restlessness, ‘a determination to succeed and find solutions for those people’, plus being emotive and compassionate with ‘a need to seem approachable and speak up for people with heart diseases and understand their issues’.
Consistency in communications
With your values and ethos underpinning your brand personality, you need to make sure that you are communicating this effectively – both externally and internally. Andrew highlighted how the BHF’s ‘core narrative is informed by the brand personality and the strategic objectives. This narrative then forms the basis which informs both our internal and external communications. Stories and campaigns are brought to life in a consistent voice’.
David echoed this approach by saying that ‘when everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, that’s great because when you do get problems then it’s easier to pick up on them’. Carlie took this point further by highlighting that it’s important to make sure that ‘someone outside of the brand and marketing team is brought into a workshop on brand personality so they understand it’.
The importance of adaptability
Brand personality is a constant work in progress and it can quickly become outdated if you don’t change and adapt to the current time or circumstances. Carlie pointed out that once a brand becomes outdated you’ll risk losing ‘relevance and trust’, which will take much more time and money to then turn that around.
Therefore, you need to be constantly evolving and changing. David echoed this has been seen at ParcelHero with the different logos that they have used and the way they are constantly updating and altering their website for it to be as simple as possible to use. Andrew backed this point up by saying that for a brand with a long standing reputation like the BHF, the personality traits don’t change but the way things are executed does – ‘30 years ago we were talking about our cutting edge research and today it’s about exploiting the advances in artificial intelligence. So the personality of being experts in our field is the same, but it’s about ensuring that you adapt to make it relevant to the time you’re in’.
Measuring your success
Brand personality should be evident in all your communications, but what about measuring its success?
Carlie gave an excellent example of how this can be done by introducing our audience to Gousto’s ‘swag-o-meter’ which has become an integral part of their PR and comms teams approach. In big advertising campaigns they use their ‘red hot swagger’ to get heads turning and grab people’s attention. ‘Nicely bubbling swagger’ can be used to spice up recipe descriptions and for organic social posts it’s ‘light swagger’ so more warm and friendly. Carlie said that ‘having a tool like this where we can dial up comms is great because we can use it across PR to assess ideas and whether they feel right for us and it’s something we can carry right through to our customer’.
For David at ParcelHero, success is built much more upon link building. The higher rank the publication he can make a link with then the higher up on the Google rankings they will sit. He also shared an example of a successful campaign focused on Christmas deliveries. This involved a mini site which included a list of stores with the latest posting dates ahead of the holidays. This, along with a widget giving the final delivery dates too, proved very popular and appeared in many magazines as it made it simple and easy for people to send/receive a parcel in time – linking into their core brand personality.
At the BHF, the brand personality links back to their core values and ethos and a successful campaign must contain these traits. The organisation managed to achieve this through an individual’s story for the 2022 London Marathon which they were the charity partner of. Their campaign focused on Professor Sanjay Sinha, a lead researcher from University of Cambridge, who is developing a heart healing patch, a revolutionary bit of technology. Andrew said ‘the campaign angle tied in with our personality traits as Professor Sinha is a world leader in his field, it’s revolutionary technology that will have a massive impact. Plus he has a personal connection as a doctor as he sees people affected by heart disease every day’.
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