Should you use personalisation in your branding?

By September 2, 2015Thoughts

AirBNB Create BelosYou might recall a year ago the majorly disruptive travel website AirBNB did something interesting with its branding. It gave more control of its brand to its users, enabling them to play with colours and backgrounds which would allow them to feel a sense of ownership over the brand. The marketing community has fallen in love with the concept (and I count myself in that community) however the jury is still out on whether this is a good thing.

Personalisation of a brand is a new concept and is only possible because of the way the technology of the internet is allowing people to operate, it’s only natural that internet marketing specialists will adopt this trend and start to include personalisation in their branding strategy.

In my capacity as a Marketing Manager I’ve recently been working on the creation of a new brand for a software solution and one of the key things we wanted to implement in this brand was an element of personalisation.

As a concept, personalisation in the delivery of content isn’t a new thing. We were doing it at Skiddle years ago, delivering content to people based on where they live, or their previous browsing history or their likes on Facebook etc. In personalising the content delivered to the user, there was a definite increase in conversions and stickiness. However we were still relatively protective of the brand.

The idea of allowing the user to personalise the brand centres on the trying to facilitate the customer to love the brand they’re interacting with because in essence they’ve had a hand in the design of that brand; they’ve tailored it to their taste in some capacity. At the moment I’m working on the development of a brand for an HR solution which we’re calling BrightHR, which offers the user the chance to change an element of the logo (and even create their own), change the colours and upload their own images.

I’m talking about brand here, customers are more savvy and cynical than they’ve ever been before so you’ve got to be thinking about how you can introduce the human tough to your branding.

Share a coke with friendsAs discussed the age of the internet really brings personalised branding to life, however it’s not just what you can do online. Probably the best known example of personalised branding is one in the physical world. Do you remember a few years ago when Coca-Cola ran a can called #ShareACoke ? In that campaign they added names to the Coke bottles in the hope that people would want to buy them if they had their name on them, buy them for their friends and swap them. Later they included place names and words such as Friends. You know what? It worked for them and sales went up again.

For most brands we’re going to be thinking about what can be done online because there’s only a limited chance to scale things offline – however it’s still interesting to think about how it can be done in the real world.

As a brand isn’t just a logo and a colour palette it’s essential to make the ethos of personalisation of your branding part of everything you do, how can you directly reach out and speak to the individual and how can you give them more control over how they perceive your brand? These are the new challenges brand marketers face, and these are the new challenges online marketing specialists moreover face.

When speaking to a branding consultant you should make sure they understand the concept of personalisation, and are talking about branding in terms of culture and how the brand looks, feels, smells and sounds in the real world and not just about a logo. If you’re looking for a freelance seo consultant like myself then you need to be sure part of that strategy is about personalising the brand experience in the search engines.

You might think it’s difficult to personalise a brand experience in the search engines however really it’s relatively easy, we all have our customers’ details, why aren’t we shouting about them online? Creating a page of content about your customer or about their area or about a part of their day to day which is really unique to them and you’re starting to get some way to offering them a way into your brand online that no other company will be doing, especially if you could that with information about your business and that area together – that’s golden. As long as you’re not creating thousands of near duplicated spam pages and the pages you are creating have a genuine and justifiable purpose you’ll be rewarded.

Whatever steps you take next you need to start thinking about including increasing amounts of personalisation in your branding because this is one area of brand marketing that’s not going to go away. It’s scary to give away control to your customers and it’s counter-intuitive to what we’ve all been taught as marketers.

As a marketing manager over the years one of my key roles was to manage “brand consistency” but that normally meant making sure a designer had followed the brand guidelines. It’s true that a designer still has to follow the brand guidelines to some extent, it’s just that those guidelines need to be less restrictive and have to include ways for the designers, developers and marketers to offer the customer the opportunity to take control of the brand for themselves.

The best brand marketing specialists understand that the brand comes from the company, it’s a mixture of everything, the interactions between the staff, the products, the fun things a company does, how people talk about the brand to each other in the real world etc It’s about understanding and distilling the perception of every touch point and coming up with something encompassing. Giving the customers the ability to personalise the brand also allows the marketer to check they’ve got it right and adapt a brand to better reflect how the customers are interacting with it in real time.

This is a really exciting time for marketing and I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to do some exciting things with personalisation both in my capacity as a freelance seo consultant and in my day to day role as a marketing manager concentrating on brand marketing in a leading tech firm. I cannot state how much of an advantage personalisation of your branding could offer you if you get involved with it now, because the longer you leave it, the more businesses will jump on the band wagon and the more your customers will be looking for businesses who are offering opportunities for brand personalisation.

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