How to get into people’s heads

Be succinct, make connections, solve problems... Have personality.

Be succinct, make connections, solve problems… Have personality.

People in some organisations can feel that branding ‘isn’t for me’, that it is something for multinationals and big names only.

But in reality every organisation, no matter the size, does have a presence in its markets – with the way it is seen, and the qualities customers, stakeholders and peers attribute to it all building the brand. The same applies to individuals – you may not be an influencer with half a million followers, but how you present yourself creates your own brand…

And that’s the key really – which is why marketeers talk about ‘brand personality’.

Of course, there are people (like us) who spend their working lives helping organisations shape and build their brands, but there are fundamentals which everyone who interacts with others can use to build Brand X and let the personality flow…

Be succinct

Make sure you understand the product/service/solution. If you don’t understand it and its benefits, it will be almost impossible to translate these to your audiences.

Tap into exactly what it is that you’re offering to people, interrogate your original answers and assumptions to make sure you’ve got it right… You are a roofing company – you offer a high-quality service with reliable people that you can trust, something like that? What you’re actually doing is making sure people are safe and sheltered – you help to protect them and their home. With a damaged roof, all kinds of problems emerge. So, you’re a roofing company – you will protect people and their homes. This is supported by your track record, and brings an array of sub messages in.

If you need a few sentences to explain a benefit, you perhaps haven’t quite tapped into the essence. Being able to sum it up succinctly – not necessarily with gimmick – gives messages which are more likely to resonate and be memorable.

Make connections

Point to cues in people’s lives, which prompt why your product or service is needed. ‘Need’ can mean many different things – from ‘needing’ a KitKat with your coffee, to needing a vacuum cleaner that works well where your dog has made a mess.

Contagious talks about triggers and how these can be used purposefully to put your product or service front of mind in your potential consumers. An example can be seen with KitKat, where, many years ago, they were floundering, and they chose to deliver a campaign which put KitKats with coffee. When people reached for their (third) coffee of the day, they were more likely to have the urge to enjoy a KitKat with their coffee. Associating KitKats with such a popular and regularly consumed drink was a winner for the brand, and their sales improved.

Triggers may also happen by accident… for example when a rover landed on Mars and caused a surge in Mars bar sales…

Connect your product with activities or events in people’s lives – they’re more likely to think of it beyond the times when they see your ad pop up.

Solve problems

Address problems in people’s lives (without any unwanted negativity). We all have challenges – small or big – show how you are helping. Sometimes people realise there’s an area in their life that they would like to improve, but don’t necessarily know the options for tackling it, or don’t realise there are alternative options.

You’re here to improve a situation in some way – how are you doing it? What’s the issue, how can you succinctly connect your brand to this? This can be messages in advertising or the copy you use in your product description.

Have personality

Anyone has the potential to say the right things, as described above, so you need to add in your personality to give your product or service the edge.

Sometimes there is a truly unique product or service that emerges, but it is rare. So whilst your product or service may not be the rare unicorn, it can still impress – tick all the boxes above and add in some feeling.

We’re all different and the same should go for brands. Your brand was created differently to all others, it’s managed by different people to all others – your brand is different and its personality needs to match this. This personality needs to be felt consistently across your messaging, giving people a feel for what you’re about and consequently, why they might want to work with you.

While you’re there, evoke emotion – surprise, frustration, delight. These types of (high arousal) emotions are more likely to cue a reaction which causes the consumer to share what they are seeing, getting more eyes and ears on the communication you’ve worked hard to create. Bonus.


The points here aren’t possible if you haven’t done a bit of homework first:

  • Know your audience as best you can
  • Understand the channels, their capabilities, their audience behaviours
  • Understand the potential of different content types (and formats)
  • Know what success really is to your brand – you might be chasing a like on a social media post, but why does that matter to your brand’s bottom line