[Podcast] Brand Personality, Personas & Archetypes with Stephen Houraghan

[Podcast] Brand Personality, Personas & Archetypes with Stephen Houraghan

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Tune in to episode 7 of the JUST Branding Podcast with brand strategist & educator, Stephen Houraghan and Jacob Cass & Matt Davies as they discuss customer personas and brand archetypes and how these tools can be used to help better understand your audience and define your brand’s personality.

 

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Show Notes

Stephen Houraghan is a Brand Strategist and Educator and is the founder of Brand Master Academy, an online learning platform that teaches designers how to raise their expert profile and grow their business through brand strategy.

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Show Transcript

Jacob Cass:

Hello and welcome to Episode 7 of Just Branding. Super excited today because we have the incredible Stephen Houraghan, who is the brand master of Brand Master Academy, which is a school that teaches people around the world to learn brand strategy. And in particular, Brand Master Secrets is the course that I love and I continue to talk about, so I’m very excited to talk with Stephen today. We’re going to dive into brand personality. But before we do, did you want to introduce yourself any further, Stephen? Or do you want to just jump into the meaning of brand?

Stephen Houraghan:
Oh mate, I’ll give the audience a 10 or 20 second. So I’ve got Brand Master Academy as my core brand. My background, like most of the audience, is design. So I’ve come from a brand design background. And over the course of six to seven years, slowly transitioned into brand strategy. I know that a lot of designers are coming to that journey and coming to that crossroads, and that’s where I’ve found my struggles and my challenges. So that’s where Brand Master Academy was born, and Brand Master Secrets, from that, to help designers with that transition and that progress.

Matt Davies:

Where did that come from, Stephen? Why did you want to help others? Where does that need to help come from? Hi, it’s Matt, by the way, everybody.

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Stephen Houraghan:
Matt, I’m just a good guy, mate. That’s it.

Matt Davies:

You really are.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. No, look, it’s the old adage, most businesses are created, I’ve found, from somebody overcoming a challenge that they’ve come across themselves, and realize how difficult it was and how painful it was, and have that emotional connection to all of that pain and all of that struggle, and realize, “If only I could go back and tell myself what to do, and help myself, how would I do that?” That’s where it came from. I knew from how much research I was doing online, how much studying I was doing, and how much reading, how much crap was out there, pretty much. If I know that, and I know the people that are looking for that information are coming across this same stuff, well, I would like to be in there putting better content in front of them, holding their hand a little bit more, and saying, “Look, forget about all that crap. This is what you need. This is the direction you need to go.” And in turn, cutting out maybe three to four years of trial and error, basically.

Jacob Cass:

Let’s dive into that a little bit further. Because I have taken a course and I’m a big advocate for it, as you know. The reason why I am, is because it really does help designers bridge the gap between design and strategy. It does go into the scientific thinking behind it as well, the psychology, and it gives you all the worksheets and tools and templates to get there, which is incredibly powerful, so kudos to you.

Jacob Cass:

But the section we’re going to talk about in this podcast is personas, personality brand archetypes. So after, I guess, you worked out all the internal aspects of your brand, so the purpose, vision, mission and values, and where the brand’s positioned, how do you fit brand personality into the mix?

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, so the internal brand is the soul of the brand, especially when it comes to people, but really the whole spectrum of branding, I like to really step back and think of the brand as a person. I really have this philosophy of the human brand, and I speak about that quite a bit. The idea there is, look, we all connect with people in a certain way. We gravitate towards certain characteristics, certain sense of humor. But we all gravitate towards human characteristics. And we’re seeing this play out in the branding spectrum. We’ve seen that transition over the last 20 years or so, and we’ve seen more and more brands become more human.

Stephen Houraghan:
So first and foremost, that’s where the position that I like to think of a brand from. So from the internal brand, to me, that’s the soul of the brand, the values, and the mission, and the vision, and the purpose, these are all things that we all have as individuals, but we don’t necessarily talk to other people about them. There’s a lot of businesses and a lot of brands that come across, vision, mission, values, and see them as something that you need to put up on your website. But if you think about yourself as a person, these aren’t things that you go out and just open up to people about. You don’t sit down at a barbecue and meet somebody that you’ve never spoken to before, and all of a sudden start unloading your purpose and your values onto this person. That’s how I look at the internal brand. That’s how I look at branding as a whole. If you look at your brand as a person, then you can see how all of these pieces of the puzzle fit in.

Stephen Houraghan:
So once you have your internal brand, and that’s how you think, how you feel, and the things that as a person you would internalize to yourself, that’s your core, that’s what you’ve got as your foundation. Then you need to start to understand who your audience is, the competitors in the marketplace, and that market landscape, so you can define how you’re going to be different.

Stephen Houraghan:
But the key to really pulling out the personality for your brand is in understanding who that audience is, because that’s the person that you’re trying to connect with at the end of the day. When you take a step back and ask what your brand is, or distill what your brand is, it’s an entity that is trying to connect with a certain audience. And unless you know that audience intimately well, then you’re going to know how to connect with them, how to resonate with them, how to speak with them, what kind of challenges they’re going through, what emotions they’re going through.

Stephen Houraghan:
Going back to the conversation that we had earlier about Brand Master Secrets, this is why I was so connected with that project, is because I could resonate with those individuals, with those designers, because I had been down that road, I had been on that path, and I knew that person intimately, I knew that designers intimately, I knew the searches that they were going through online, the articles that they were reading contradicting each other, the frustrations with that, not having that signpost, that clear way forward.

Stephen Houraghan:
So coming back to any brand, you really need to understand that audience, understand the journey that they’re on. When you do that, then you can start to pull out the personality that will best resonate with them. So the pathway to developing that personality is really looking at your brand as a person, and then really focusing in on the person that your brand as a person is trying to connect with.

Jacob Cass:

So how do you actually go about finding that personality?

Stephen Houraghan:
The personality for the brand?

Jacob Cass:

I understand there’s two, the audience persona and then the brand’s persona. So I guess we can start with the audience persona first, and then lead into the brand persona.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, so the audience persona, look, the reality is, this is a fictional character. Because what we’re doing here is, we’re trying to distill a group of people that could be in the millions down into a single personality or a couple of personalities that we’re really trying to connect with. So we want to best represent who that person is as possible. So it is a fictional character, and we can start the process like that. So we will know a few things about them, we’ll know some basics about them in terms of their demographics, we might even know some about their psychographics. So just to give a bit of framing as to what demographics and psychographics are there. The demographics are the circumstances of the person’s life, so how much money they earn, what kind of care they drive. Are they married? Do they have kids? Then the psychographics are more about their behaviors. So what kind of magazines do they read? What kind of sport do they like? What do they do on the weekends? What restaurants do they go to? What food do they eat? That kind of thing.

Stephen Houraghan:
So we can make an educated guess as a starting point, as to who this audience looks like. That is the starting point, by painting in that silhouette of what this audience looks like. Now, once you’ve done that, you’re really still only at the starting point now at this stage, you need to go out into the marketplace and get a bit more detail about who that person is, and make sure that your assumptions are correct, your assumptions about their demographics are correct, your assumptions about their psychographics are correct. A place that I like to look are my competitors and their followers on social media. So you can jump onto their page and see their followers, and see the conversations that they’re having, and have a look at their profiles and really have a look at who this person is, what their lives are like. What do they follow? There’s a lot of information that can be found online.

Stephen Houraghan:
But on a basic level, it is a fictional character that you need to, as best as possible, fill in the fiction with fact.

Jacob Cass:

Okay, great. So if that’s the audience persona, how do you make the connection from the audience persona to the brand persona? How is that connection made?

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah. So we want to create a personality. Now, just for a bit of perspective here, if we were to talk about a personal brand, for example. Now, I know that brand personality and personal branding, there is some confusion out there as to, “As a personal brand, should I create a brand personality for myself?” Well, the answer is no. Because at the end of the day, when you’re building a personality for a brand, you’re trying to create something that’s not already there. When it comes to personal branding, there is a personality already there. Now, you can link the characteristics that your audience are attracted to, to your own personality, and accentuate those characteristics to be more appealing to that person. But the perspective there is that, with a personal brand, the personality is already there, it’s just a case of pulling out those characteristics and matching them to that audience and accentuating those.

Stephen Houraghan:
When it comes to a business and a business brand, you’re trying to create something that isn’t already there. So a good way to do this, and this is where I start my personality development, is with archetypes. So archetypes, for those who don’t know them, it’s a personality framework of 12 personalities. This framework actually goes back to Greek mythology originally with Plato. But in the early 1900s there was a psychiatrist called Carl Jung, and he created this personality framework. Essentially, there are 12 personalities, and these personalities make up pretty much everybody. You will fall into one of these personalities more than the rest. So it’s a set of behaviors that we all instinctively know. If you’re able to identify your audience and what their desires are, then using this archetype framework, you can map them to an archetype that will be most suitable to that audience, that will appeal to that audience most.

Stephen Houraghan:
So that’s where I start, I start with the archetypes, by first understanding the audience and then mapping an archetype that will be best suited to speak to that audience. But again, this is still just the starting point, because the archetype framework is just a framework, it’s just a guidepost for you to understand the general direction that your personality should go. But it’s not a fully formed personality. Because, look, at the end of the day, if you think of a personality framework and you think of 12 personalities, you think to yourself, “Well, I’m an individual. One of those personalities, they might be closer to me, but I’m myself, I’m my own person, and I would differ to even the one that I’m closest to, because I’m an individual.”

Stephen Houraghan:
It’s the same when it comes to brands. Yes, you define which archetype would be best suited to appeal to that audience, but you develop that out then, you give it opinions, you give it an outlook on life, you give it a tone of voice, and a way that it’s going to speak to that audience to really appeal to who that audience is.

Stephen Houraghan:
So I know there was quite a lot of detail in that, but just to distill it, you define who the audience is, you understand their personality, you use an archetype framework as a basis to find a direction for your personality, and then you develop that personality out with fine detail so it feels like a real person.

Matt Davies:

I think that’s absolutely fantastic. Just if I may, just crowbar myself in here just for a second, I just wanted to say, one of the benefits that I’ve found, and I don’t know if you’ve found this, Stephen, in using archetypes, is particularly, it has a high value when you’re working with a client who might have… Some of my clients have had 12 business leaders in the room, for example. They’re very much used to talking data, and they’re talking all the really dull businessy stuff. Very important stuff, no doubt, but quite dull, quite dry. Then if you run a session on archetypes, and you line up the 12 archetypes, and you explain them, and then basically get them to break into groups, select the archetype they feel best represents their current company circumstance, and then pin them up on the wall and talk them through, and then vote on them; I’ve found that the people absolutely love that. Because what it brings is alignment. I think that’s one of the great things. But as you say, that’s just the basics, that’s just the framework. You’ve then got to go further.

Matt Davies:

Before we go further and quiz you about adding some depth, I just wondered if it would be useful for the audience, perhaps who haven’t come across archetypes or used them at all, if you could just give us maybe a couple of examples of an archetype, and then maybe a famous brand or something that we might understand, so that people can connect the theory with something practical.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, absolutely. So the 12 archetypes, let’s see, I’m going to test myself here to see if I know them off the top of my head. So you have the outlaw, the magician, the hero, the lover, the jester, the everyman, the caregiver, the ruler, the innocent, the creator I missed out there before the innocent, the sage, and the explorer.

Stephen Houraghan:
So let’s take hero as an example. So the hero has a collection of characteristics. So we know all know heroes from movies. So going back to the archetype framework, Carl Jung developed this in the early 1900s, but then this was taken into The Hero’s Journey, which was a book by Joseph Campbell, which is what a lot of stories are based on. So it has a certain pattern. All the best movies in the world that we all know and love, they’re all based on this same pattern, Star Wars, Toy Story. And that is, you’ve got a person that overcomes these challenges and comes in front of this, and by the end they’ve transformed into a new person. That is The Hero’s Journey.

Stephen Houraghan:
So going back to the hero archetype, we group a collection of characteristics into each one of these archetypes, so for example, the hero, they’re brave and they’re courageous, and they want to be seen as being the best, but at the same time they’re righteous as well, so they want to help other people. So this hero, we’ve seen this hero in the movies time and again, Superman, for example, and that’s an example of a personality that we instinctively know, it’s in our subconscious because it’s passed down through myths and legends, and stories, movies. So we subconsciously know this character. And that plays out then in movies as it does in brands as well.

Stephen Houraghan:
So if we were to define a brand that is most aligned to the hero, well, that would be Nike. So if you think about what Nike stands for and the people that follow Nike and who they represent, what they represent, the Just Do It tagline, it’s all about overcoming adversity, it’s all about being the hero, and every single face that they have representing their brand, from Serena Williams to Tiger Woods back in the day, to Michael Jordan, these are all heroes, these are all modern day heroes. So that is an example of an archetype and a brand that is represented by an archetype.

Stephen Houraghan:
The idea here is that you know who your audience is, your audience are people who, they’re brave, they want to take on the challenge, they want to overcome adversity. This all plays in to the products that they have and where they use those products, whether they’re wearing a pair of running shoes on track and field or a pair of football boots in a game of football, it’s all about this competition, and they want to win. So the brand is tapping into those characteristics of who the hero is, in order to align themselves with that specific audience.

Matt Davies:

Absolutely. I think you’ve just explained that really, really well. The psychology behind it, fascinating. I think Carl Jung calls it the collective unconscious, that we’re all connected across time, cross-culture, cross-location, and it’s like a human instinct to connect. The other thing that I thought was brilliant that you brought out there was, that really, these archetypes, they’re kind of amplified in stories. So if you’re a designer and you just started to get to grips with these, and you are introducing them to an audience of, say, business people, a great way to do it is to talk about the archetype and then connect it with, for example, a character in a story, like you just did, with Superman, for example, and then connect it to a brand. Then people go, “Ah, I get it.”

Matt Davies:

One I use, I like a lot, is the explorer. So you talk about the explorer taking people to new experiences and guiding them there. And then you think about the North Face as a brand. In terms of characters, you’ve got Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, they’re always going to a new place, discovering something new, and we like to follow them in their journey, like a Sherpa up Mount Everest. Once you’ve started talking like that, metaphorically, people get it, and then they see, “Is that us? Is that what we want to do?” And that’s what aligns them. So that was fantastic, thanks for sharing that.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, absolutely. Just to follow on from that as well with what you touched on before, with the conversations that you have with the C-suite. When it comes to emotional branding and speaking to a specific audience with emotion based on who they are and based on what they believe, that then translates into your communication with your client as well. So if you’re able to, like with your brand, show your client empathy and connect with them on a human level, so be able to use metaphors, be able to use stories, to be able to use analogies to educate them and inform them about the brand that they’re trying to build, well then, they’ll feel a much stronger connection to that brand and they’ll feel a much stronger connection to you as well.

Jacob Cass:

Yes, that’s fantastic, as Matt would say, I love it. But I want to bring this back down to earth a little bit. Because we’re talking about some big brands here like Nike and Superman and all of that. But how can small business apply this to their business? And how can they bring personality to life in their brand?

Stephen Houraghan:
Look, yes, the example that we have given is a brand like Nike. But let’s strip it back down to the person to person scenario. If you meet somebody that you’ve never met before, it doesn’t take you long to weigh up whether or not this is your type of person or not. That’s all based on the language they use, the tone of voice, what their interests are, how they present themselves, the characteristics they display. Because as humans, that’s just what we do, that’s how we connect with people. So whether you’re Nike or whether you’re a startup, that is the exact same thing. Because at the end of the day, you’re trying to appeal to a certain person, you’re trying to be more relatable. What you’re finding now is that big brands such as Nike, they’re trying to come across like smaller brands. They believe that smaller brands have this advantage over them, and that they can be more personal, they can be more relatable. Because in a lot of cases, a brand will have positioned themselves to a very, very specific niche, whereas Nike or Apple, they’re appealing to half the world.

Stephen Houraghan:
So when it comes to small businesses or big businesses, it doesn’t matter. How we connect as people is all the same, it’s all based on characteristics and based on how you display those characteristics. So when it comes to a small brand, how are you presenting the copy on your website? Have you considered the characteristics in your logo design, in your color palette, in your typography, in your image style? And then, how are you connecting with your audience through social media? What stories are you telling? These are all really, really important considerations, whether you’re a big brand or whether you’re a small brand. So it really doesn’t matter, really it’s across the board, your audience is human, at the end of the day, whether your revenue is in the billions or in the hundreds of thousands or in the thousands, your audience is a person. And how you speak to them will determine whether or not you resonate with them. Whether or not you resonate with them will determine whether or not they take action or they feel drawn towards your brand.

Jacob Cass:

Some words of wisdom there, heard it from the horse’s mouth, Stephen, thanks mate. I was going to ask another question about brand archetypes and customer personas. In the past I’ve used customer personas and created these personas based on demographics and psychographics and all of that. So how are they different to the archetype system? For people that are more familiar with that persona tool. Or how can you mix them together?

Stephen Houraghan:
So just let me make sure I understand the question. How are customer personas and audience personas different to archetypes?

Jacob Cass:

Yes. And can they be sued interchangeably?

Stephen Houraghan:
No, they’re not used interchangeably. They are distinctively different. So the persona, whether it’s the customer persona or the human persona, is a fictional character, it’s a fictional person that represents either the person that the brand is trying to connect with or the person that the brand is.

Stephen Houraghan:
The archetype is the framework, the personality framework, that we use as a tool to better understand either, A, the audience, or B, the brand, and those personalities. So we do use archetypes both with the audience and with the brand. But the archetype is the baseline foundation for each of those. Does that make sense?

Jacob Cass:

Yeah, it makes sense. I was just wanting to get the definition of both and how they could be used if they could be used together.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, and look, they are used together. In order to better understand your audience, you really need to understand the personality that they are, the personality type that they are. An ace up the sleeve of the archetypal framework is being able to link characteristics back to a core desire. So each of those personality types within the archetype framework has a core desire that is very, very specific. So the core desire for the ruler, for example, is control. So you can tell, based on the desires of who your audience is, which archetype they’re most aligned to. If you know the archetype that they’re most aligned to, then you can define the archetype that will be best suited for your brand.

Jacob Cass:

Got you. Thanks for clarifying that.

Matt Davies:

I’ve got a quick question. Let’s say you’ve identified a core desire and you understand your audience’s desire, and you understand in the framework that say, the ruler… Let’s go with that example. Your audience wants control, and so you think, “Right, okay, we need to embody the ruler to resonate correctly.” But when you go back out to the marketplace, you suddenly realize, all of the competition are also positioning themselves in that space. What are your thoughts on that? Would you ever switch to a different type of suitable archetype to differentiate yourself? Or do you think that that wouldn’t fit with the framework well?

Stephen Houraghan:
This is where the secrets of Brand Master Secrets is. You’re drawing me out here, Matt, I like that. Yeah, so this is where I would use an influencer archetype. There’s something else about understanding the role that your brand is playing as well. But let’s just stick to your question for the moment.

Stephen Houraghan:
So yes, I understand that point. Everybody else in the marketplace is, let’s say, the ruler, so how are you going to use a personality to distinguish yourself in a market full of the same personality? So that’s where you would use an influencer archetype. Even if, for example, all of the other brands in the marketplace are rulers, you first need to define what your role is with that audience. So are you going to be a ruler because you want to represent their idea of success? Or is your audience a ruler themselves, and do they want more guidance than you just representing what their aspirations are?

Stephen Houraghan:
Maybe I didn’t explain that too well in that case, but you really need to consider the role that your brand is trying to play. And if you do decide to go with a core archetype, that is being represented within the industry. So let’s take an example here, let’s say, in the high street fashion industry. So a lot of those high street fashion brands would be ruler archetypes, they would base their personality on ruler archetypes, everything is about status and wealth, and control, and power, and prestige. All of your competitors in the marketplace are based on the same personality.

Stephen Houraghan:
But again, with every question that I get to do with personality, I always bring it back to the human example. So in a room of other suits, you might see somebody in there, and you want to try and appeal to them, but you can see past just the status and the wealth. They might display a characteristic that tells you that they’re interested in travel, for example. They might have a bit of explorer in them. They are more than just the archetype itself.

Stephen Houraghan:
So this really comes back to knowing who that audience is and what their desires are, what their psychographics are, what they do on the weekends. Yes, during the week they sit in big leather chairs and they wear suits and ties, but on the weekend what do they do? They might have a Jeep and they might go the mountains. So they might have that explorer archetype within them. In that case, you might decide that you want to use the ruler archetype to appeal to their core desires, but then you might adjust your personality slightly. So you might adjust the look of your brand. You might adjust the tone of your brand, the language of your brand, just ever so slightly, to appeal to those other characteristics.

Stephen Houraghan:
So again, always coming back to the human side of things. Brands and personalities, they’re not two dimensional. The framework is two dimensional. You need to break out from the framework, use the framework as a guide, and develop out a real personality that feels like a real person and that’s not just based on a handful of characteristics that are cherry-picked. Does that answer the question?

Matt Davies:

Yeah, I think so. I think you’ve answered it really, really well. One thing that I’ve also done… So there’s the sub-archetype, the wing archetype, whatever you want to say to build that in. But I suppose one of the things you can do, particularly say in B2B brands, is examine, okay, if the core desire is control, everyone else is just shouting control from the rooftops, and they’re rulers, how are we giving the audience control, right? So you could say, “Oh, through knowledge and data.” Then suddenly you might find a niche or white space in the market, like, “Hey, nobody is really talking about the data here. So let’s embody the sage. Let’s be the Yoda of the industry.”

Stephen Houraghan:
Exactly. That’s [crosstalk 00:33:57]. You’ve just given an example of what I’ve said there. So it’s looking past the core desire to who that person really is. And if that person, they want that data, well then, the sage is a good personality to represent and appeal to who that audience is. That’s a perfect example.

Matt Davies:

Yeah, it’s great. And that’s why this framework that you’re advocating is so powerful, it really is. Because you can have these really bizarre… Some people come out of my workshops and they’re like, “Matt, what the hell have we been talking about? We’re all serious corporate heads, and suddenly you’ve got us talking about magicians, and heroes, and explorers, and jesters. What on earth is going on?” And I say, “Welcome to branding!”

Stephen Houraghan:
Everybody becomes a philosopher as well. Did you read [Marty’s 00:34:49] book? What’s his most recent book?

Jacob Cass:

Scramble.

Matt Davies:

Scramble?

Stephen Houraghan:
Scramble, yeah. That’s a perfect example. They’re all in the room, they’re all collaborating, and they’re all of a sudden showing these human sides to themselves that they wouldn’t usually do it. The head guy, the CEO is seeing sides to these people that he hasn’t seen before. So it is, that’s exactly what happens.

Matt Davies:

Anything that can open people up emotionally around their business is a really positive thing. Although, almost like what you were saying, you don’t just go in and share. As a consultant, as an agency, as a designer, you need to build that trust, and that takes effort. I know we’ve had other podcasts, and we’ve got some coming up, I’m sure that will help us to help people with that. So thanks so much. That was absolutely cracking.

Jacob Cass:

It really was. Just a tidbit of trivia, this is actually how I found Steve, was through brand archetypes. He has an incredible post, extremely detailed, I think he’s still ranked for number one on Google for brand archetypes, it’s an incredible guide. So if you’re not doing the course, go check out that guide, because it will help you get a better understanding [inaudible 00:36:09] you’ll start to see all those 12 archetype types, then you’ll get a much better understanding, and you can start to use that in your workflow as well, and start integrating it as smoothly as possible.

Jacob Cass:

I’m personally still learning at this time. I’ve come from a background of using customer personas. And I’m still integrating these archetypes and getting my head around it. It does take a little bit. But it’s a powerful tool, as Matt and Steve have obviously explained here. So definitely check that out, for sure.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, and going back to what I was saying before about wanting to have better content out there than what was previously available, I did that with archetypes. But I’ve just recently completed a definitive guide for brand personality, so it includes all of the archetypes, but it includes all of the personality building steps as well. I think it’s /brand-personality. So brandmasteracademy.com/brand-personality.

Jacob Cass:

We’ll put it in the links to make it easy.

Matt Davies:

I think that’s brilliant. I think what you said as well is worthy of note, that this is just a framework. Just as a parting question, not a long answer, but if you wanted to build some depth to it, how do you recommend to clients, to designers… So say we’ve got the archetype, like it’s the sage, it’s about wisdom, knowledge, data, the Yoda of the story. How do you then take that conceptually and bring it more down into something practical, tone of voice, design style, imagery? How do you recommend that happens?

Stephen Houraghan:
I have to congratulate you on your questions, because you’re really extracting the details from me. It’s great. Fair play.

Matt Davies:

The extractor, you can call me that.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. But no, it’s a great question. That’s something that I drill home. So when it comes to audience personas, a lot of people preach demographics and psychographics. I preach that as just the starting point. When it comes to personality, a lot of people preach archetypes. I preach that as just the starting point.

Stephen Houraghan:
These are real people. Essentially what you’re trying to do for your brand is to build a real person, something that’s relatable. So if you handpick, cherry-pick a handful of characteristics to try and relate to a certain person, which is what most brands that tackle this half-assed would do, then that’s not a relatable personality. You really need to draw out the detail. Like a good story. A good story is good because you feel like you’re part of the story, the author goes into great detail to set the scene and the frame. You feel really connected to the story because of that detail. It’s the same when it comes to brand personality.

Stephen Houraghan:
You really need to bring your personality to life, and to ask some questions to this fictional personality. So what’s your opinion on the industry? How would your brand answer that question? Knowing what your brand tone of voice is, because this is part of the development of your brand personality, knowing what the tone of voice is, knowing the characteristics that you want this person to display, and then having a visual picture of what this person would look like. How would this person then answer these questions? That’s where you can really bring it to life and start to feel like it’s a real person.

Stephen Houraghan:
If you are documenting this and using this as a brand management tool, and you’re handing this over to, let’s say, a copywriter, for example, then that copywriter jumps right into that copy and goes, “I know who this brand is, and I can represent this brand perfectly regardless of my writing style, because I have all the information here that this brand needs to represent, the characteristics that this brand needs to portray.” That’s how a brand personality really comes to life, beyond the archetype, beyond cherry-picking characteristics, so the audience feels like it’s an actual person, they feel connected to it.

Matt Davies:

I love that. So ask questions of your fictional brand, “What’s your view on the market? What do you believe about Donald Trump?” Stuff like that.

Stephen Houraghan:
Exactly. That’s it. The more industry specific questions you ask, the more you’ll be armed with that kind of language, and some of that can go directly onto a website. But then, taking a step back from the industry itself to really ask the brand, “Who are you as a person?” Because we’re doing that with the audience, we’re saying, “Who are you as a person?” To say to the brand, “Well, who are you as a person?”

Stephen Houraghan:
This goes back to what I said before. I really feel that we’re in a transition at the moment, that we’ve gone from where we were in the mid to late ’90s when the millennial found its voice, they got into chat rooms, and all of a sudden they had a voice. Then social media came along, and this power shift change from brands to consumers, and brands were forced to adapt, to become more relatable, because the consumers were then calling the shots. That was the beginning of this human brand revolution. I feel that brands now have evolved to this place where they’re becoming more and more human every single day, to the point where big brands are trying to be smaller brands just so that they can relate on a human level.

Stephen Houraghan:
So yeah, I really feel that this is definitely the present, and increasingly the future.

Matt Davies:

Brilliant.

Jacob Cass:

Well, you’re definitely the perfect person for this episode. It’s been a real treat. Thank you for sharing all your insights into archetypes and brand personas. It was really incredible. So thanks again, Steve.

Stephen Houraghan:
Yeah. I think I’m a closet fan when it comes to personality. I didn’t realize that I had all this in the back of my noggin.

Jacob Cass:

Thanks for sharing that.

Matt Davies:

It’s a good noggin. Thanks so much, Steve. It’s been fantastic.

Jacob Cass:

Yeah, thank you. We’ll wrap it up here, and we’ll keep you posted. Thank you everyone for listening. If you have questions, as always, let us know. We’ll see you next episode. Thanks, guys.

Stephen Houraghan:
Cheers, fellas.

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