Customer Personas: What are they and why do they matter?

By October 15, 2016Branding

Can your brand’s stakeholders quickly and unanimously cite its ideal customer(s)? This should be top-of-mind to ownership, managers, and key players who help grow your brand. If everyone doesn’t know precisely who the ideal customer is and be able to do so unanimously, then this could be a reason as to why your brand isn’t growing as much as you would prefer. We’re talking about your brand’s ideal customer persona.

Knowing the ideal customer(s) isn’t a one and done thing. Over time, as buying behaviors and economic headwinds change, the ideal customer can change too.

This is where having at least one customer persona is of great help. But what is it? And why does it matter?

Essentially, customer personas have two parts to them: Demographics and habits.

Demographics

This is what you would expect it to be: A mix of attributes like average income, age, marital status, gender, etc. Demographics used to be the key targeting criteria for brands, but over time, and as more data became available, we added another layer to what the brand’s ideal customer looks like.

Habits

If the demographic is the noun, the habits are the verbs. In the context of a customer persona, habits are what people do with their treasure (money and time), and in a way that can be measured.

Customer Personas

Mix demographics and habits together, and we get a customer persona. The persona is an average, an ideal person that would love to buy from the brand. The customer persona has all the demographic and habitual data that makes our brand’s offering attractive and needed.

It’s always best that a customer persona be written out, and documented as part of any brand guidance resources. Just as the visual parts of the brand have guidelines, so should the brand’s ideal customer(s) be documented in quick, brief write-ups of what the customer persona is made up of.

An example might look like this:

Jack Doe is a blue-collar man, aged between 32-45 years old, who drives a pickup truck, loves to hunt, and is fiercely patriotic. As part of Jack’s daily rituals, he loves a good meaty meal. He will prefer a steak, brisket, pulled pork, or a hamburger over a salad any day of the week. Jack’s living spaces are populated with products that use simple visual branding – he doesn’t go for loud, clever, or modern/minimalist design. He likes bold, earthy simple colors and is proud to display logos that algin with his values.

Why Do Customer Personas Matter?

Customer personas matter because they get us out of opinion and into data-led decision-making. It frees up high-level brand stakeholders, such as ownership and managers, from having to ensure all marketing touch points are on-brand because they have a tool that can guide their team.

Personas hone in on your customer’s wants, and can inform your brand’s next innovation.

Don’t think that “data-driven” strictly means Big Data from an information-gathering entity. That kind of info is fantastic, sure, but data-driven can also mean that you have been doing what you do for so long that you know your customer(s) and that information can be documented as a customer persona. I work with plenty of business owners who have loads of experience that guides and grows their brands, but they feel that they, alone, can be the gatekeeper.

Through a brand persona development exercise, I help them help themselves by getting that information out of their heads and into a tool that their team can use too.

Let’s Identify Your Brand’s Customer Persona Together.

This is not merely for startups. I have actually worked more with established brands on developing their customer personas than with startups, and it makes sense because startups usually have an informed guess as to who their customers actually are – maybe a year or three of info at best.

The development of a customer persona is not for the brand that has a low opinion on the importance of their branding. If that’s you, stop reading – you are not ready for this. For those who get it, let’s talk. We can put a plan together that will take your brand to the next, more profitable level.

 

Dan Crask

Author Dan Crask

Hello - I'm Dan Crask. I help brands discover who they are, then express it visually. I co-own Brand Shepherd, am a husband, father of four children, and I don't believe in a work/life balance - it's all life, and all of it matters.

More posts by Dan Crask

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