The 1 Thing I’ve Learned to be True About Branding by @iamronii

by Ronii Bartles | Featured Contributor

My career background is in marketing research and consumer behavior. I have conducted and taken more research surveys than I can count on all my fingers and toes. One common question asked in research (particularly brand research) is if X brand was a person what adjectives would describe its personality? Then it gives the respondent a ‘this or that’ series of answers and proceeds to go through several pairs of adjectives. This kind of research tells marketers how consumers currently perceive the brand. Then marketers then can create communications and messages that resonate with consumers that drive them to buy.

For entrepreneurs and small businesses this is great way to gage what our audience thinks of our brands. And that’s important because our brands are us. And as clichéd as it is “consumers work with people they know, like and trust.” I recently tried this strategy with my network to get an idea of how people perceive me and my company’s brand. I asked a simple question, “What one word would you use to describe me?” The result was interesting, to say the least. I don’t shy away from the fact that my personal brand and I largely drive my company brand even though I have other team members. I’m pretty forward and want work to be fun. And I want to attract like-minded clients that want to have fun too. Some words that were used were outgoing, professional, dynamic, crazy, honest and rockstar. I even got a ‘Courageousmartenaciousuperockstar’. Now that one took some thought. In this experiment and with all my research experience the one thing I have learned about branding (big or small):

Give it some personality. Your personality!

Bonus: And stand for something!

It is ok to make some things all about you. People like that in a brand. And they want the real you. The you that stands for something. No one ever remembers status quo. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said it best.

Well-behaved women seldom make history.

Even big brands do this. Take Apple for example. The brand reflects a lot of Steve Jobs personality. They did that on purpose. He stood for something, whether you loved or hated it, you remember it. They made history. They made history with their products, their marketing, their business model, their leadership style. If Apple were a person, what is the one word you would use to describe her? My word would be trend setter. If Apple were a person she would totally be a trend setter. She would be the cool kid that you want to be friends with and want to be just like. Because she is pretty and smart and just… cool. Wasn’t Steve Jobs that cool kid? Coincidence?

How will you incorporate personality into your brand? How will you make history?


Ronii Bartles – Marketing & Branding Expert from Bartles & Associates – Charleston, SC

Ronii Bartles HeadshotRonii is Bartles & Associates’ self-proclaimed Chief Rockstar. She has a whole list of amazing (but slightly boring) credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree from Shepherd University, a MBA from The Citadel, The Lowcountry Business Network Advisory Board Member and is President of the Charleston American Marketing Association, where she was also a 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalist. She loves to go around telling people that she actually is one of the Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston and a 40 Under 40 winner because the Business Journal told her so. Professionally, Ronii grew up in the marketing research industry and has been Director of Operations at ARG and W5. She took all that experience and started Bartles & Associates and where Ronii and her team work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses on developing branding and marketing strategies around what they do best, which they lovingly call Operations Marketing. B&A helps businesses uncork their potential by uncovering their WHY and then crafting that message into concise, memorable brand stories and marketing messages. Ronii is an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over twelve years, and won Big Sister of the Year in 2008. Originally from West Virginia (you can take the girl out of WV but you can’t take the WV out of the girl), she loves beer, college football (Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!), pizza, jeans and a t-shirt, and designer high heels. You can connect with Ronii on Twitter or LinkedIn or email her.

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