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Analysis

Using Brand Personality to Delight Customers

If customer retention is largely the result of emotional connections, then why don’t more brands amplify the flavor in their communication touchpoints?

Ben Jacobson
November 15 2018

When it comes to both retention marketing and online marketing in general, a lot of us tend to focus on the technical side. Segmentation. Personalization. Automation.

But a large part of retaining a customer is purely emotional.

A 2017 survey from Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute found that emotions are the biggest driver of brand loyalty. In fact, rational elements like price and customer service are only slightly more related to loyalty than values like a brand’s environmental friendliness.

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So while technical tactics like behavioral segmentation and triggered drip sequences can obviously help your customer retention, they can only work when you’re using them to tap into your customers’ emotions.

Especially in more competitive niches where customers have lots of alternative options to your product, retention is as much about developing a relationship and emotional connection with them as it is your product’s quality.

Quality is obviously important, but it won’t make you stand out in a competitive landscape full of high-quality products.

On the other hand, what is capable of breaking through the noise and acting as a magnet for passionate, loyal customers?

An engaging and authentic brand personality that can delight at every stage of the customer experience.

A personality and relationship approach that your best customers can relate to will be one of your most powerful tools for customer retention – more so than any single personalization tool or website plugin.

Here are three steps to get started using your retention technology to deliver a more consistent customer experience through strong brand personality.

1. Define your brand’s values

Think of your brand’s personality in terms of all the different ways you exhibit your company’s internal values. Hopefully for your brand’s sake, and your marketing team’s sanity, you’ve already defined your company’s core values.

If not, now is the time to brainstorm, and it shouldn’t be difficult for an existing business. Simply look around at what beliefs you and your best customers already have in common with each other. Is that friendliness? Convenience? Sophistication?

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Revisiting this exercise through the lens of retention can be eye-opening. When you’re thinking about your values in terms of customers who’ve already been sold on your product once, you can focus less on the functional benefits of your brand and hone in more on emotional and self-expressive benefits.

For example, you may realize that while you’ve tried to position your brand as serious and professional, your most valuable customers have historically preferred more playful and happy expression, or fit a different demographic or buyer persona than you’d realized.

You also have the chance to add nuance specific to customer retention. When looking to gain customers, it’s okay that your brand values for those at the top of the funnel are slightly different than ones for existing customers.

You’re simply showing the sides of yourself and your brand that are most relevant to what each audience member is interested in at the time.

When trying to win someone over, you may need to focus more on your product or values like the responsiveness of support. They’re simply more top-of-mind for shoppers than friendliness of support representatives, which would be a concern for current customers.

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Consider how Chewy.com might position their excellent customer experience differently for shoppers vs. customers. They would highlight aspects of their personality like dedication and reliability for prospects, while honing in on their compassion and empathy when a current customer has lost a pet.

2. Craft a persona (not that kind)

Once you’ve figured out which parts of your brand’s personality are most important to customer retention, you need to dive into the process of compiling them into a cohesive brand persona. Whereas a marketing or buyer persona aims to “wrap up” your customers, this persona would instead apply to your public-facing team members.

Think of it as the company’s mascot uniform that anyone can don to accurately represent your brand and the values you carefully curated. Some brands even opt to go all out and create an actual spokes-character to represent themselves with.

For example, brands like MeetEdgar and MailChimp have anthropomorphized their mascots, Edgar and Freddie respectively, with full personalities that act and communicate on behalf of the company. Freddie’s even become so beloved that he has his own fansite.

 

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To figure out how to create a personality with enough punch to become beloved by your customers, think about who your brand would be in their friend or peer group.

How would it act in different situations? How would it talk? What would its interests and best characteristics be? Document these in a set of brand voice guidelines that can be used across all customer-facing departments when communicating with them.

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3. Build into your user experience

Finally, once you’ve developed a persona and values focused on retaining customers, you want to revisit your entire customer experience looking for places to inject personality. Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to delight your customer – no detail is too small.

Customers should be able to expect a consistent experience from you, no matter where an interaction is taking place, which communication channel they’re using, or which team member they’re talking to.

Even your product itself is an opportunity to delight and become more memorable.

Consider taking a look at the copy of your:

  • Transactional emails like confirmations and receipts
  • Calls-to-action at different points in the journey
  • Help text and pre-filled text in your website forms
  • Microcopy in all your apps and other major tech channels (like a knowledge base or help center)

Delight and retention aren’t normally the result of a single, grand gesture. It’s the cumulation of tons of tiny Easter eggs, like Trello’s login screen:

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It’s also your choice of words in everyday conversations with your customers, conversations that take place outside of big marketing campaigns where copy is carefully crafted.

Guiding everyone in your company – not just the marketing and sales departments – towards using on-brand language can help create consistency. For example, Skype’s brandbook even has a list of words related to their product that they deem “too corporate,” and more casual and positive alternatives to use instead.

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Making things this easy for your whole company – from sales and support to product design – to inject delight into touchpoints overcomes a huge barrier to creating a consistent customer experience.

Personality: your underrated retention tactic

Next time you’re brainstorming retention strategies, take a step back from the automation and technology and think about the more human aspects of the customer experience. Is your brand’s personality one that customers will want to spend more time within the future, to develop a long-term relationship with?

If your brand doesn’t align with your customer’s long-term vision, bring in your personality to help secure a place in their future.

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Ben Jacobson

Ben Jacobson is a marketing strategy consultant who specializes in content, social media and influencer marketing for B2B firms. He contributes regularly to publications including MarketingLand, Search Engine Journal and the Orbit Media blog.

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