Silverpop - You Are the Brand: Bumper Stickers to Live Your (Marketing) Life By, Part 2
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You Are the Brand: Bumper Stickers to Live Your (Marketing) Life By, Part 2

by: Laura Brown (@laurabrowny)
29 October 2015

Scott Stratten is the king of many things, but he’s undisputedly the King of Writing Marketing Bumper Sticker Slogans. From “QR codes kill kittens” to “You’re not the Jack--- Whisperer,” he’s got a catchphrase for many a marketing lesson.

A simple one that hit home with me was featured up on a poster for Scott’s latest book, UnSelling:

“You are the brand.”

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go all “Alex from Target,” get famous and appear on the Ellen show, but it does imply that as employees we’re an intrinsic part of creating our company’s brand.

The reason I love Scott’s quote is that we talk about personalisation all the time, but sometimes as marketers we lack personality. Here are a few of my favorite examples of brands expressing their personality.

Personality via Tone

One of our go-to examples whenever anyone talks about marketing and personality in the same sentence is the outdoor retailer Moosejaw. It has personality in abundance, and it works. Who wouldn’t open the “world’s first scratch and sniff” email?

Sure, I know that Moosejaw didn’t invent scratch-and-sniff email, and I know their messages are trying to get me to buy something. But because they are entertaining, I’m more than willing to let them into my inbox and even take them out of the “Promotions” tab in Gmail.

Sometimes it boils down to nuance. I currently have two credit cards, both of whom send me monthly email statements. Here’s how their subject lines read:

  • Company #1: “Laura, your latest bill is ready.”
  • Company #2: “Account Statement for Miss L.A. Brown, correct at 6 March 2015”

Guess which credit card brand I prefer? OK, it’s the one that charges me zero international transaction fees, but the first subject line at least makes me think one of the brands is run by humans.

Personality via Your Employees

Although email is a natural place to express brand personality, opportunities abound across channels. A friend of mine works for a fashion retailer that sends me emails from its founder, “Jonnie.” As you would expect, this company also sends me regular print catalogues, and most feature the same tall, blonde model wearing all its clothes beautifully. But my favourite content it produces is its seasonal “staff picks” catalogue, in which its office staff members chooses and model their favourite pieces. It’s personal, and it shows personality.

That content resonates with me because I get the feeling the retailer’s clothes are for real-sized people who work in real offices — like me. It’s a great example of a company not afraid to put people front and centre in their marketing. From the founder “signing” emails to the staff receiving a clothing allowance, this company encourages its employees to “be the brand.”

Personality via Community

Your location can also be a powerful source of lifestyle branding through personality. Take clothing retailer Seasalt, for example. This past spring, its catalog and blog featured Tosh, a ferrymaster in the UK seaside town of Cornwall. He’s probably never shopped at Seasalt and probably never will, but he embodies the Cornish community spirit, which in turn provides inspiration for Seasalt’s nautical-themed clothing.

With so much of Seasalt’s brand based around its British seaside Cornish heritage and the aspirational lifestyle associated with the area, it makes sense that “Tosh becomes the brand.” We see this all the time with celebrity endorsements – Beckham for H&M, Rihanna for River Island – but what I like about Seasalt’s use of real people is that it seems so authentic and unafraid. It’s interesting and unusual, recognizing that the Seasalt brand isn’t for everyone, but that’s OK.

Expressing Your Personality

I wouldn’t dream of rewriting Scott’s “You are the brand” bumper sticker, but I would pose this question to marketers: If you’re not the brand, then who is? Your customers, community and employees can all play an integral part in communicating your brand. As you’re creating new content and campaigns, think about how you might inject a little more personality into your marketing and build stronger connections with your customers in the process.

Related Resources:

1) Tip Sheet: “Transactional Emails: 10 Tips for Driving Value and Engagement

2) Blog: “Bumper Sticker Rules to Live Your Marketing Life By

3) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue


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