Personas have long been used as a tool for user experience design. Representing segments of the target market, personas focus the structure and content of a site on the needs and desires of the people who will use it. They turn theorised ideas of audience segments into tangible, understandable ‘people’.
Meanwhile, with the growth of social media and its prominance across business functions, more and more businesses are sharing the responsibility for that social media across multiple people or sometimes across departments (for example, a Product Development team may be called on to post about specific products because they know it best).
This shared responsibility is wise and protects the brand from ‘losing its voice’ if a colleague moves on to another function/business, but there is a risk that the dilution of responsibility could also lead to dilution of the brand. Where multiple people are posting as a brand, giving clarity of ‘who’ that brand is becomes more important than ever.
Bring the two concepts of personas and shared social media responsibility together, and what do you have? Brand personas! By turning a brand into a persona, just as we do a customer, we can deliver that clarity of brand in an easily understandable and discussable way. The brand persona provides the language to articulate the brand quickly – “Can you post to Facebook as David today?” makes for much more efficient delegation than “Can you post to Facebook using the tone of voice which is most suitable for a family audience and bear in mind that the family will be looking for information around family products and security is a big issue for them and safety is a key consideration and…”. Right?
Personas are an incredibly useful tool and I believe they are increasingly effective from a brand point of view as much as customer understanding. In an age where any brand can be copied and DIY options are always available, we must revert back to the very basics of branding and clearly communicate who we are and everything that comes with that.
After all, every single person is unique: make your brand a person and you’ll reap the benefits of clarity both internally and externally.