Many businesses hide themselves behind stock photos, soulless copy and scripted conversations. Yawn... they are boring. But, there are other businesses, the brave ones, where people behind the brand show themselves up and tell personal stories. They are engaging, dip into our minds and a magnetic force of their personalities drags us to buy their products and use their services.
Let's take the Raleigh Denim, a jeans-maker from North Carolina, as an example. When you get on the company's website you won't find a buy-me-now copy or generic photos. Instead, you'll see a personal-sized film telling the owners' story. The owners are a couple. In the film they express passion to each other and to the jeans they make. After 5 minutes of watching it I catch the true vibe of the company. I get to know real people who run the business, and as a result I get to know the company way better than if I went through a website full of a sale-copy.
What happens when you show yourself
Showing yourself means expressing one's personality. Among humans, personality is a powerful force which gives us clues about who we like and who we don't like. We are literally dragged to people with certain personalities and repelled from people with other personalities. Same mechanism works for people when they get in touch with a company. When a company expresses its personality, we unconsciously get attracted to it or deterred from it. The force of attraction caused by a personality is often stronger than a rational decision-making process.
If at this point you get scared that showing yourself will put off some people, don't be. You will simply scare off customers who don't get your business. They would be the ones who cause the most problems and constantly insist that you change your product or service into something it isn't.
Showing yourself triggers emotions
Expressed personality evokes an emotional response from the people who get in touch with your company. When emotions appear they encourage long-term memory. People simply start to remember your company. In contrast, when you hide your personality and use general messages, people get bored and almost nothing sets down in their minds.
Take a look at the Raleigh Denim's brand statement:
For people who love what they do and get shit done.
Did you just smile? Was it a 'shit' word? If you had an emotional reaction to this statement you will likely remember it.
What it takes to show yourself
Your personality is a great asset and you can use it almost everywhere in your business: in design, copy, interactions with customers, and product or service. To bring it to your brand you need to ask yourself who you are and what you value and show it up to the public. Simply said, if you're more of a polite type create polite messages, if you're more of a swearer, swear. When you decide to be real in business, there's no compromise, you just are who you are. You just tell what is important to you. And you just use your own voice.
One of the businesses that comes to my mind now is Steve and Kate's Camp. It's a company which communicates in a personal and funny way throughout their website. Being funny is a personal style of the owners, Steve and Kate. When I hang around their website I just feel like meeting them in person.
Take a look at the owners:
Take a look at the message in a contact form:
And a copy in a fee's section:
Our plans are designed to grant peace of mind like Raja Yoga.
Interestingly, they also use a lot of pronouns, like: we, you, our, yours in the messages. By using these words the owners say directly what they believe in and why they are doing what they're doing.
More than one personality
When you are a one-man business or a business run by a couple it's easy to infuse your personality to your company. But what if you have more people on board? Can they all express themselves? If you hire like-minded people who share similar values, life approaches and sense of humor, then the answer is yes. People who tune into your voice will be a reflection of your personality. It will be more of a collective personality, but still sounding similar to the one you would express all by yourself. The only thing you need to do is let them be authentic and autonomic in their work.
Take a look at a few tweets from a Saddleback Leather's customer support. The tweets are all personal and friendly, just like the brand itself.
A morning tweet:
— Saddleback Leather (@saddlebackbags) May 27, 2015
An evening tweet:
— Saddleback Leather (@saddlebackbags) February 2, 2015
A tweet mentioning a life event:
— Saddleback Leather (@saddlebackbags) February 27, 2015
We are smart beings and sniff out fake messages like sketchy photo or stiff copy. Those don't move our emotions and we don't establish a human-to-human connection with brands who are distant and unreal. As a result those brands lack loyal customers who leave for brands with a human face. So if you've been hiding behind generic messages, it's time to come out and show yourself through your work. Be real and see what happens.