How Can Creating A Brand Character Rejuvenate Your Content?

What do Aleksander Orlov, Gio Compario and Cara Confused have in common?

If you answered ‘they’re all extremely irritating/creepy in their own special little ways’ then you’re right, but it’s not the answer I was looking for. The actual answer I was after is that they’ve managed to make household names of three brands operating in the rather dull niche of price comparison websites.
A good brand character can transform the fortunes of a brand entirely. Compare The Market have gone from an alright service with a catchy jingle to one of the UK’s biggest price comparison sites with a nice little sideline in kids’ toys and fictional autobiographies authored by meerkats.

The toys aren’t just a cynical way of getting kids to pester their parents to use the services of a certain website either; who do you think the kid who goes to bed cuddling Sergei the scientist meerkat is going to think of first when they’re old enough to compare car insurance prices?

On the whole, brand characters are mainly used in advertising, but they can actually come in handy when it comes to creating regular blog content too. How so? I’m glad you asked…

We’re currently working with a client whom we blog for twice a week under the guise of a fictional character. We devised this character with a backstory, a writing style, opinions on certain topics, a role at the company – basically everything a ‘real’ person would have.

What’s the point in doing that, you ask? Well, our character’s particular specialism is one that allows us to create content that isn’t directly related to what our client does but is relevant nonetheless AND has a ton of viral potential.

The content allows present customers to engage with the brand in a different way, while also allowing for the possibility of attracting new customers through posts that go viral. It helps build brand awareness and brand loyalty – it’s basically our version of hawking meerkat toys.

By giving your character a sense of authority when it comes to talking about certain subjects not related to your niche directly, you can come up with content that would otherwise look strange if, say, Dave from Accounts wrote it (sorry, Dave).

The particular niche our character operates is also ripe for new content, meaning we can blog on a regular basis and reap all the SEO and social media benefits associated with that.

A good character can also provide a face for your content. There has been plenty of times where I’ve looked at a generic company blog, thought the actual post was good but wondered who wrote it and what their experience entailed.

People like to know exactly who wrote what they’re reading – they place trust in certain authors. Google has realised it, and the gazillion or so pre-orders made for JK Rowling’s first foray into adult naughtiness despite no-one really knowing what it’s about seem to confirm it.

Not everyone is comfortable with being known as a hotshot super-authority too, so a brand character can act almost as a pen name. You can also tailor the background of a character to be as interesting as you like, ideally something your target audience will be able to relate to.

I’ll finish this off by sharing with you one of my favourite brand characters at the moment. They don’t have a name or a face, but with regular surreal ramblings on Twitter relating to just about anything, @betfairpoker is one of my favourite accounts on Twitter. This is despite me having no interest in online poker whatsoever. But if I ever do decide to dabble in a bit of Texas Hold ‘Em, you’ll know where to find me.

Creating a brand character certainly won’t be for everyone and for some niches where ‘seriousness’ is an indicator of authority, it just wouldn’t be appropriate. But if you fancy making your content a wee bit different, it’s definitely a something worth looking into.

Ben Greenwood
  • Written by on 5th October 2012 at 08:22
  • “Ben Greenwood is an SEO & social media consultant at Fluid Creativity. Ben can regularly be found blogging about all things digital and is a self-confessed Twitter addict.”
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