In light of encouraging big brands to embrace provocative questions and discuss the best ways to approach tricky issues, brand consultancy The Clearing has challenged companies to take a long, hard look at who they are.
Imagining yourself as a fictional character is a tough one – we all want to be known as the bravest, the coolest and most heroic idol, but seating yourself at an angle that mirrors how others see you is daunting. And being truthful about who we are is hard for even the most self-aware person.
Labelling a company – one made of multiple interests, behaviours, and voices, is an awkward decision. How can so many different people encompass one personality? Surely they all have a different opinion. However, what everyone has in common is agenda – the goal of the company, where it wants to go, who it wants to influence and what statement it wants to make.
Pin-pointing the nature of the brand demonstrates the company’s ability to self-criticise, grow and improve its likeability. And what better way to understand yourself than to liken yourself to a character? Viewing your brand as a person (or an animal, or a talking candle), with feelings and a voice allows you to analyse an outsider’s view. Would you like this person if you met them? How many Facebook friends do they have and how do they react in difficult situations? Shaping yourself a personality lets you understand your relationship with others – with customers and with other brands – and leaves room to play with the traits you aren’t so fond of.
Flow Energy, a Suffolk based energy company, describes itself as the customer-driven character: “We’re like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Good at making friends, good at changing minds, determined to rise to the challenge – and a true believer in the importance of home.”
In Flow’s case, it knows how its doppelganger is driven by friendship and a location – and it has a clear path of its company’s journey.
Invite a discussion about who represents you, what your likes and dislikes are and your company’s ultimate objective. It may be useful to ask your clients, journalists and Twitter followers who they would describe you as. Feedback from others is an interesting way to gauge if you are sending off the right message and is a great way to interact with the public.
Who is your brand when it looks in the mirror? You may discover some desires you didn’t even know were there.
Jules Griffith is marketing and operations director at The Clearing.