Hey. Personas Have Lives, Too.

We’re all trackable. Like, even if we think we’re private, we’re actually not. We have our habits, our favorite Instagrammers and we gravitate towards brands and ideas that predictably sync with our personalities
and passions.

We can be found. And we are, regularly. Which means, brands should take note.

So, when we finish painting the detailed illustrations of our Audience Personas for clients at WHYFOR, we start following the breadcrumbs that sprinkle out from that work — work that identifies with low ambiguity who a business or brand or organization is trying to reach, with specificity. And once we follow those breadcrumbs, we animate the characters we’ve carved out during persona development, folding who they are and how they’re motivated into a blueprint that details where they can be found and how they can be reached.

This entire process, the one we refer to as H.A.L.O., builds on itself as we progress. So, if any of this sounds out there or if you feel like you’ve walked into the middle of a conversation — you have, a little. If you start from the beginning, it all makes sense.

But, now that we’re here, it’s time to consider the customer journey. At WHYFOR, we take a deeply empathetic approach to mapping and fully understanding the journey a persona will take with a brand. Beyond technical UX, we get down to routines. We explore the nitty gritty in a strategic, sensible way.

In short, based on the pain points and motivators we discovered while piecing together personas, we find where a brand fits in a consumer’s orbit. Is it at a conference or trade show (think pre- or post-COVID)? Is it on TikTok or LinkedIn? Is it online, outdoors or in an inbox? Or is it (gasp) over the phone?

And when we reach them, how should we talk to them? Based on what we know, what should we develop that they’d appreciate? A handy download, a fun video or an informative white paper? It all depends.

Our Audience Persona work isn’t complete until we know these things. Think of it as coloring in a picture after outlining it in great detail. It’s all about the shading, right?

The part that cannot be overlooked is that we can’t reach this point, effectively, without doing all the groundwork first. We can’t know how a brand fits into a consumer’s life until we know what the brand stands for and what the consumer looks like.

In other words, you can’t understand your specific audience until you understand yourself — as a business. It’s deep. And life advice-like. But true.

We’re walking clients through it all right now. And to our knowledge, no one has cried yet, except in celebration. We’re not even making that up.

Let us know when you’re ready to dive into your own journey.

Guess Who You’re Talking To? That’s So Old School

Hasbro sells a board game that asks players to use physical characteristics to guess the identity of a secret person their opponent has chosen. Remember that game, Guess Who? It’s a simple premise.

Is it a woman? Does she have glasses? Does he have a mustache? Is her hair red? That kind of thing.

On the most elementary level, and we mean at its most simplistic, it reminds us of the Audience Personas we create as part of our proprietary H.A.L.O. process. Instead of flipping down illustrations of people who don’t fit the persona we’re creating, like we would in the game, we use gigantic sticky notes or digital templates to build profiles of the types of people brands are trying to reach.

It’s a process, a fun, insightful one. It starts where our Anatomy Profile leaves off and leads to the development of an Avenues Plan. On its own, Audience Personas uncover not just how a segment of an audience looks and lives, but how they think, how they behave and what motivates them to act.

This is where things start to fit together. It’s where pieces start to slide into place, and where clients begin to understand why we questioned them about their anatomy and their values so relentlessly and specifically. Because, you have to know who you are and how people view you in order to know who you want to talk to and understand why they would want to hear you.

We could get fancy here and talk about psychographics and demographics, and then pick apart the delineations and necessities of both. But we won’t. We’re going to go Guess Who?-style and keep it simple. Because that falls in line with our approach. We ditch those traditionally bloated and often fluffy reports that never get used in favor of creating specific, actionable plans that feed off our Anatomy Profiles and move us to our customer journey analysis.

Audience Personas get to the root of why people make the choices they do, as it relates to brands. Our ultimate goal is to get to the nerve, to discover the pain point and then understand what factors motivate certain behaviors. Put simply, we want to understand pain points to alleviate them, understand questions audiences have so we can answer them and understand goals so we can help them achieve them.

The data we bring to the surface allows us to create a valuable narrative, featuring fictional characters based on a brand’s true story — like a high-quality, super-specific docudrama. And like any juicy drama, some of the characters (or personas) are driven by money (budgets), some by fame (personal notoriety), some by philosophies and principles (classic Cinderella/Jedi story).

Regardless, those unique motivations are the holy grail. Because ultimately, we want our work to influence decision making and impact revenue.

See? It’s a bit more high level than Guess Who?, but we also don’t shout “Cheater!” like we did as kids as we work through Audience Personas. We’re past that.

And once we’re past harvesting characteristics for brand-specific personas, we build them out so they’re easier to see. We’ll explain that process a bit more, soon.

Need some intel on your Audience Personas? Let’s talk.

How We Put Anatomy Profiles To Work

Discovering who you are can be a trip. On a personal level, that discovery may come in the wake of turbulent trials or while backpacking through the Sierra Nevada mountains or after stumbling through the desert at Burning Man. Different strokes for different folks.

But for brands that work with us, that discovery is born during a thorough analysis of organizational structure, ideals, process and purpose. We’ve talked about it before — the Anatomy Profile we work with brands to create.

And we imagine you probably want to know what comes next. Because getting information is easy, even if it feels hard in the moment. Using it is the real challenge.

We’ve seen too many brands and organizations pay for marketing research or marketing plans or marketing tactics that they never put to use — or don’t even know how to use.

It. Just. Sits. There. And gets stale. And sad.

We’re not into that. So, we put hard work to work, insisting that the time we’ve spent uncovering a brand’s DNA is never wasted. We’re kind of like drill sergeants for insights, without those annoying whistles.

Once we understand a brand’s anatomy, we build out a complete profile. We know who you are now, so we find out how you’d speak to the people you’re trying to reach. But it’s not just about how you talk — it’s also about what
you say.

Anatomy Profiles include the development of core messages, a sort of content compass, informing content plans for any number of platforms, from taglines to digital ads to tweets. These core messages steer your content creation, ensuring a brand’s anatomy shines through, consistently, with every word.

Anatomy work has the potential to uncover a more applicable direction for a brand or organization, and often does. Because it drills down to a common denominator (no fractions needed) and builds a fresh foundation that otherwise may have gone undiscovered.

It’s the whole “forest for the trees” thing.

The entire process allows a brand  to reset or rediscover how it wants to make people feel and how it wants to be viewed. Once that self-discovery is done, the army of insights turn and face the audience, because that’s their
next mission.

The information gained from the development of Anatomy Profiles trickles up, if you can visualize that anomaly. It improves your understanding of and ability to convey your unique differentiators in the tone that fits your brand and your audiences.

It’s a delicate dance, and if done properly, can positively impact organizational struggles related to recruitment, retention and recognition, among other issues that start with the letter “r.” There actually are a few more.

And once it’s complete, we start looking at Audience Personas. The Anatomy Profile flows right into it, like a hand into a glove — a working glove made of leather or suede instead of a fancy, white one from those old English shows.

Because, like we said, we put this work to work. Intrigued? Our Anatomy Profile work is something we love to talk about, so let’s connect.

Who Are You, Really?

We’ve all wondered who we are, exactly, at some point. That great existential introspection can be terrifying or exhilarating.  Or, maybe both? Regardless, that monumental personal discovery can create understanding, facilitate empathy, inspire connections and fuel change.

It’s heavy. Who we are is pretty much our everything.

Same goes for brands.

It’s foolish to launch marketing efforts, create digital campaigns, and develop logos and taglines and websites if you have no idea who you really are. And you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t know who they are. It’s startling, actually.

You have to understand yourself first, inside and out. Or, it’s all a waste. We’ve seen the aftermath. And it’s not pretty.

This is what WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profiles accomplish. Part of the H.A.L.O. business system, WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profiles ask all the questions. And by all, we mean every last one.

What makes a brand tick? How does it feel? What would it say? Would it wear tie-dye or cuff links? Cream or sugar, bagels or donuts? All the most important things, from the hard-hitting to the warm-and-fuzzy.

We ask, because we string the answers together to build an organizational gene code. Yeah, our Anatomy Profiles is basically DNA research for brands. It’s actually a science, we just don’t wear lab coats — because despite how serious we are, even we know that would be a bit much.

The work we put into the intensive lab workshop spits out a customized brand recipe, a brand anatomy that acts as a foundation for its larger personality, intentions and direction. It informs the strategic approach towards its audiences and delineates the avenues it will use to reach them.

WHYFOR refers to these elements — anatomy, audiences and avenues — as the 3As. They’re a big deal. And as we said before, they all start with anatomy — knowing what you’re made of.

Brand anatomy uncovers voice and tone, establishing an appropriate feel when delivering messaging, be it in an email, on social media or embedded in ads and collateral. It’s how a brand speaks. It’s what it sounds like.

Is it authoritative? Is it a jokester? Is it educational, empathetic or empowering?

Beyond voice, it also develops a strategy statement, identifies values and sets brand standards for imagery and style, specifying colors and fonts and building a compass of organizational integrity.

WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profiles are vital, basically. And although the profiles unearth a substantial volume of critical intel on a brand, they’re only one step — the first step in the process.

There’s more.

Because finding out who you are is big. But, finding out how to flex, how to use your superpowers, that’s the next step.

To learn more about WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profiles or its H.A.L.O. business system, reach out. We’d love to fill you in.