Is it necessary to ‘sex-up’ or create a personality for your brand?

Developing a company mascot

To that end we developed Dave the Badger; a charming company mascot that we believed would make us memorable amongst the sea of competition. Dave became the face of the company and we committed huge amounts of time and creativity in bringing Dave to life; through his own dedicated twitter feed, his own ‘thought trumpet’ blog, and his own cartoon design. But not only was it exhausting; it was ineffectual. As fun as Dave was, it was not what our customers wanted. Our email unsubscribes increased and we found that simple copy became more laboured and longer to compose and read, because we were constantly trying to bring Dave to life. In our attempt to create a ‘personality’ we had momentarily lost sight of what attracted and retained our clients: best product prices, peerless customer service and excellent delivery. From day one, our success has been built on creating a loyal customer base. This was done purely by offering the basics customers want. Dave was a fun add-on – but far from a vital cornerstone. It was a fantastic lesson though. The experience underlined the importance of knowing what’s best for your business; and it’s a lesson we keep in mind at all times. For example when thinking about commissioning a service like PR, we always consider the end business goal. We’ve seen so many companies invest money in coverage that simply raises the profile, and inflates the ego, of the guys at the top, with no real commercial benefit. We always consider whether ‘X’ activity will actually drive new customers to our site. The same is true every time we contemplate re-branding – we evaluate if it will help us extend our service reach.

Focusing on core values

All that said, while creating an external personality has not proved essential, what has been crucial has been devising an internal ethos. Our internal personality is structured around a series of core values that permeate throughout the business. Every decision, from how to handle customer service to the overall business strategy is based on two key criteria:

  1. Will it be better for our customers?
  2. Is it more efficient for us?

These shared, guiding principles mean our whole team is aligned with our umbrella value: making it easy for customers. If the answer is “yes’” on both counts then a decision can be implemented. This internal shared personality means our customers consistently receive good service – no matter which member of the team they speak to. To summarise, don’t feel under pressure to inject personality into your brand if, like ours, it sits on the rather unsexy end of the retail scale. The important thing to remember is what matters to the client. If the customer needs to buy into the brand, then creating a brand that engages through aspiration or humour is important. However if you’re like us and your customer just needs a brand they will trust to buy from, focus on what drives their purchases: service and prices. Ian Cowley is the managing director of


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