When we wrote about creating characters for marketing, we covered the first two steps: determining the intent of your character and how to start designing it. Using this initial approach helps the finished product resonate with your target audiences more and achieve business goals.
However, to make a fully realized character that’s recognizable, entertaining, and representative of your brand, you also need to add an interesting personality and an iconic voice.
While the intent and design of a character will already lend a lot to their personality, it helps to dive deeper.
Here are some prompts to get you thinking about your character’s personality:
- What is the character’s job?
- How does the character interact with others?
- Do they speak directly to the audience?
- Do they use humor?
- Does the character exist in their own world/universe?
- How would the character react to not having your product/service?
Note: The broader the audience you want to appeal to, the broader the characterization should be. For example, a character that appeals to all audiences won’t make obscure pop culture or sports references that a large percentage of your audience won’t understand.
Another avenue to consider is making your character’s personality antagonistic to entertain, highlight features, or challenge audience assumptions. This might sound a little tricky, but there are several examples, like Red and Yellow M&M’s on the playful end, or Mr. Mucus from Mucinex on the vindictive side.
Photo by Gavin Whitner
If you’re using your character in any medium beyond a print ad, you’ll likely need to assign them a voice. If you cast a live actor for the part, the voice choice will be part of the casting process. However, if you create an animated character, the voice becomes far more important.
Since you can find a voice actor to perform any accent or tone you can think of, use the work you’ve already done in the previous three areas to narrow down the characteristics your character's voice should have.
To help you brainstorm, look at the terms below. Which, if any, would you like your voice to have? (Don’t be greedy—you can’t have them all.)
If you’re really stuck on how the voice should sound, think of a popular character you wish to emulate. What aspects of that character’s voice help create the effect you want to have on the audience? Then (without stealing, please) modify those traits to get an idea for what your character’s voice could be.
Creating brand characters can be one of the more enjoyable marketing projects. Just be sure you understand the intent, design, personality, and voice of your character—and how they’ll help your brand reach its marketing goals.