Remember Tim Shaw? He was the presenter of the infamous Demtel TV commercials encouraging us to buy with the memorable “but wait, there’s more”. Tim is an unforgettable personality but behind that quirky persona is a highly skilled business professional. He built a very successful business around being Tim Shaw.
There are a lot of other examples of this. John Symonds of Aussie Home Loans with his enduring promise of “at Aussie, we’ll save you” is another. Same goes for Donald Trump, Richard Branson and Gerry Harvey. All have created powerful personal brands. All have done it to help grow their businesses. Behind the scenes they employ thousands of other people. People we have never heard of. However, we do know Tim, John, Donald, Richard and Gerry and in most cases we like them and trust them. This makes us more inclined to trust their underlying businesses and be more comfortable in buying from them.
This is what personal branding can do for your business. It can improve your credibility and increase your sales, as long as you are authentic and deliver what you promise. This should be a good enough reason to consider whether it is a good strategy for your business.
Aussie Home Loans is a good example of a business that started small, built a recognisable and trusted brand and over time changed the competitive structure of the banking sector. To do this it created a point of difference in the market with a strong brand personality (John Symonds himself) and an easy to understand message to consumers (“we’ll save you”). Aussie recognised the high level of consumer distrust towards the major banks and exploited this opportunity by being credible and believable. It backed this up by providing a great product and exemplary service. Whether it could have done this without “Aussie John” as the brand personality is arguable.
The basis of this approach is to become the person/business that people think of when they have a specific problem to solve. For example, if you want to buy a home or look for a job, which companies first come to mind? What about if you want to buy a juice? Or get your tax return done? Are there companies that stand out in each sector? Do any of them have a “personality” brand that influenced your decision? The idea here is to stand out from the crowd and be the “go- to” business for your sector.
Not all businesses are suited to having a personality brand. But some are. What you need to assess is whether your business can increase sales if you created a personality brand. Then determine whether you want to do it AND have the personality to do it. In the end you’ll need to be prepared to become slightly famous, at least, for it to work.