Content Lessons From Literary Writers: 1. Personality

Avatar Rob Verschuren April 16, 2021
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“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

– Cyril Connolly

Cyril Connolly British writer and editor

Cyril Vernon Connolly (1903 – 1974) was an English writer and critic. As a literary critic of the Sunday Times, among others, he was very influential. As a writer, Connolly was less successful. His best-known book “Enemies of Promise” is an attempt to explain why he never wrote the literary masterpiece he contained.

 

The importance of personal content

Many people consider content to be information that is meaningful and useful to the public. However, it is much more than that. With content, not only do you answer the questions of your target group, but you also do it in a way that builds on your brand. The underlying layer that connects all your content is your identity: Who are you? What do you do and for whom? How are you different from others?

My definition of content: information that builds a brand is even broader than it seems. Because “informing” is only one side of the story — the cold side.

With a vast and accessible range of interchangeable products, purchasing decisions are often made on emotional grounds. The personality of a brand plays a decisive role in this. In fact, personality is the brand.

The great Bill Bernbach (AdAge Advertising Man of the Century) wrote: “ The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you. ” He talked about advertising, but the same applies to content. Your personality is not a personality unless people see you that way.

For example, if you have a great product that sells rather poorly, take a good look at the personality of your content. There can be two possible flaws. Either you have an inaccurate personality, or you are unable to communicate an ideal personality properly.

As is the case with humans, a brand personality develops throughout its life. Your vision and core values may be the starting point. But are they also the characteristics with which you score? Or are other traits more appreciated? Which content is most commonly consumed can be an indication of how people perceive your brand. Which blog articles are well-read and shared? With which social media post do you achieve the most interaction, and what type of feedback do you get from your customers? These are valuable signals about the perception of your brand personality.

And of course, you can’t please everyone. Either your brand suits a person, or it doesn’t. It is more crucial to focus on improving and enhancing the experience for all customers, not rare and particular cases.

Nobody can take your personality away from you!

Whatever you can buy from Apple, you can also find in other brands. However, the bitten apple does not simply represent smartphones and laptops, but creativity and innovation. It’s the personality that has made Apple the world’s most valuable brand. As a personification of Apple’s core values, the late founder Steve Jobs has even adopted mythical proportions that continue to reflect the brand.

In a world that is becoming more and more uniform and where every innovation immediately leads to imitation, the only way to distinguish yourself permanently is by having an authentic personality. To be unique and different from everyone else, talk heart to heart with your target audience. Your brand personality is yours alone; no one can compete with it. But it has to be present consistently in all your content. During the “buyer’s journey,” you can build a relationship with your future customer. But also consider that the same customer can make all sorts of decisions, ones that could not be in your favour.

How do you express the brand personality in your content?

First, you must determine what your personality is. If you haven’t already, there are plenty of ways, starting with your mission statement. A tool to “personalize” your core values is the lists of personality types you can find on the internet. Investopedia lists five sorts:

  • Excitement: carefree, idiosyncratic, youthful
  • Sincerity: sincere, kind, family-oriented, thoughtful
  • Ruggedness: rugged, tough, outbox, athletic
  • Competence: successful, arrived, influential, a leader
  • Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, pretentious

Another much-cited list is that of Millward Brown, which distinguishes the following ten archetypes:

  • King
  • Way
  • Hero
  • Rebel
  • Temptress
  • Joker
  • Dreamer
  • Virgin
  • Friend
  • Mother

No type is better than the other. What matters the most is to define the brand personality that suits you and is relevant to your target audience. The next step would be to write your content from that personality’s point of view as much as possible.

However, that is where the difficulty often starts — when you produce plenty of content with many different people involved. In such cases, the brand personality also comes to your aid. It provides good services as a source of inspiration and control. By associating with the brand’s character traits, you automatically come up with ideas for content. Additionally, for all internal and external content producers, the brand personality acts as a useful checklist for striking the right tone.

In our upcoming article in this series, I will be presenting some practical tips to help produce unique, authentic and personal content.

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