Your Guide to Marketing, Brand and UX Personas

Three guys walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “So, what brought you guys in today?”

The first guy says, “I’m a beer drinker. I really like beer and prefer it over other things like liquor.

The second guy says, “I really like this bar. I feel comfortable here and I get the impression that the bar likes me back. I fit in here.

The third guy says, “I work hard, long hours. I want a place where I unwind and reset.

Ok, so this isn’t a joke, but it’s OK if you don’t “get it”. These are the three different personas you have to think about when you are designing your website: Marketing, Brand & UX. Understanding the differences, when to use them and how to use them can be confusing. Personas create visual representations of abstract and complicated topics. In combination with each other, they can be powerful tools that start conversations, get everyone aligned, and keep goals in focus. Let’s take a look at each in detail by using a fictitious retail establishment.

Bumper and Brimmer is a coming soon bar in Philadelphia. It is going to use a combination of Marketing, Brand and User Experience strategies to develop its digital presence online and start promoting the business.

The Marketing

Otherwise known as the Sales, Buyer, or Prospect Persona. This persona focuses on essential question: Who is your ideal customer?

In the bar scenario above, the first customer replies to the bartender that he likes beer. This is clearly an ideal customer for bars. What else about that customer makes him ideal?

To answer that, some good questions to ask are:

  • What is his age?
  • Where does he live?
  • What is his relationship status?
  • What is his education level?
  • What does he do for a living?
  • What is his income level?
  • What concerns does he have regarding your product and/or brand?
  • Why is he buying your product and/or brand?
  • What are some of his favorite websites?

An example could look like this:

So now we know who we want to talk to, but how do we want to talk to them? That’s how you think when you think about the next persona type: Brand.

The Brand Persona

The brand persona is a visual representation of the company brand. It helps visualize personality, voice, and how you want to communicate with your audience. This is important because certain people respond and are attracted to brands they want to emulate.

For example, Vosges Chocolate uses words like “haut”, “soirée” and “exotic”. The brand’s “friends” are other websites such as the Robb Report, Williams-Sonoma and Food & Wine. It shows photos of chocolate with exotic spices sprinkled on top, packages of towering boxes that are a luxurious, royal purple. The face of Vosges is its founder, Katrina Markoff, who attended Le Cordon Bleu and traveled the world in search of culinary discoveries.

Vosges Chocolate

Hersey is also a chocolate brand, but it speaks in a very different voice and tone than Vosges. Hershey uses words such as “fun”, “treats” and “classic”. It loves children and families and being an American tradition. You will find Hersey at birthday parties and Halloween parties. The face of Hersey is a variety of cartoon characters who have large happy eyes and big smiles that are friendly and welcoming. Children are often in photos holding or eating Hersey chocolate.

Hershey Characters

For building a Brand Persona, some good questions to ask are:

  • What is our brand’s conversational tone? Formal? Informal? Humorous? Educational?
  • What does our brand visually look like? A man? A woman? A young child?
  • What visuals represent the brand?
  • What are some adjectives that describe our brand? Luxury? Organic? Fun? Affordable?
  • What colors represent the brand? Bright Red? Golds? Lime?
  • What are some phrases that our brand would use? “What’s up?” “How may I assist you?” “This is so lit.” “It’s like chiffon and champagne.” “🙈😛❤️”

Now let’s take a look at the Bumper and Brimmer bar. What would the brand persona be? Thanks to the Marketing Persona, we already have some idea of what people want from the brand.

Bumper and Brimmer uses words like “craft”, “world-class” and uses its favorite word, “beer” a lot. Here’s what the Bumper and Brimmer Brand Persona would look like:

We now have Akeno, our Marketing Persona, and we have Tyler, our Brand Persona.

Each of these personas is looking to talk to the other in order to accomplish certain goals.

At first, this seems like it’s going to be an easy conversation. Each wants to talk about the same things, one wants to buy beer and the other wants to sell beer, what could go wrong? The challenge is there are many brands vying for the customer’s attention and when someone like Akeno Googles “Where can I find a beer lover’s bar in Philadelphia”, he will get a list of answers and he will very likely check out all of them. Our Brand Persona’s “friends” will be a help here as they will suggest and, in a way, vouge for the Bumper and Brimmer bar. This lends towards the validation, but won’t seal the deal.

Imagine our two personas meeting in person. They discover they have things in common (beer) and they know some of the same people ( Tyler now has to find a way to walk Akeno past all the other brands who are trying to talk to him, introduce him to the bar and keep his interest enough so that Akeno doesn’t think, “Maybe I would like another bar better,” and leave. That’s where the UX persona comes in.

The UX Persona

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who only talked about themselves? If you have, I would bet that after a while you didn’t find that person very interesting and started to get bored with the conversation. You might have even tried to avoid that person afterward to keep from having to have another conversation with them.

That’s what happens when a brand doesn’t focus on the customer. Even if the original conversation topic drew the person in, they will surely wander away if the brand only talks about themselves.

A UX Persona helps keep the focus on the customer and in doing so, will help that brand achieve its goals.

Luckily, we can use the Marketing Persona as a foundation for our UX Persona and then fill in some deeper insights.

For Bumper and Brimmer, some UX questions to ask might be:

  • How do you discover new beers?
  • Do you have a preferred method for trying new beers?
  • You mentioned that you like to unwind after work, how long does it usually take for you to wind down?
  • Do you prefer bottles, cans, or beer in a glass? How come?
  • Do you talk to bartenders when you go into a bar?
  • Do you talk to other patrons?
  • What do you talk about?
  • How many times a month do you like to visit bars?

An example UX Persona could look like this:

Bumper and Brimmer can use this UX Persona as direction with website elements such as a This Week’s Samples section where the user is informed of what beers can be sampled along with other important to the user info such as tasting notes. This element not only speaks directly to the user but will keep them coming back to the website for a newly updated list. It can direct the design with colors, and it can be used as conversation discussions for other marketing efforts such as PR events, social posts and YouTube Pre-roll ads that can be placed before videos about beer.

Now that you have your personas, you can use them as visual tools when discussing strategy for the business.

Even though the UX Persona is a more detailed version of the Marketing Persona, I suggest keeping them both to use when you want to focus on answering certain questions. For example, if your sales funnel performance is doing poorly, first revisit the marketing persona and talk about your ideal customer. Is there a missing aspect? Could you perhaps be avoiding a common type of user because they are not your ideal customer? The discovery of which questions to ask let alone how to answer them can be difficult. A Marketing Persona can help with this.

Personas can be very useful tools for simplifying and slowing down conversations so you can focus on the right topics at the right times. So print them out and tape them up, project them on to walls, get creative with them and create cutout characters (You wouldn’t be the first!)Now you can confidently create three different kinds and, who knows, while using these, you might even discover another kind. Let me know if you do, I would love to know!

I hope you enjoyed this post and, more importantly, found it useful!

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