From purpose to personality: Defining your brand DNA (Part 2)

August 24, 2023

Tom’s made a name for themselves by giving away one pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Warby Parker started with a mission to provide more affordable, higher-quality glasses because “everyone has the right to see.” 

That’s brand DNA. 

To recap, brand DNA refers to the character traits, values, and stories that set your brand apart. By defining your brand DNA, you create a four-dimensional essence that’s more likely to leave a positive impression on your customers.  

In Part 1 of this 2-Part blog, we dove into brand values, philanthropic efforts/social initiatives, and unique experiences/credentials. Now it’s time to answer questions like “Why does your business exist?” “How did it come to be?” “What makes it so special?” and “What’s your brand’s personality like?”

Let’s dive in.

Brand mission

Your brand mission is the “why” behind your business. It captures the core reason your brand exists.

A brand mission also serves as a compass for your brand’s marketing strategies and business decisions by keeping everyone focused on a shared purpose. For that reason, it’s just as crucial for rallying your internal team as it is for resonating with your audience. 

Before you panic, your mission doesn’t have to be about saving the world. It could be creating small moments of joy or making certain tasks simpler. Whatever it is, step back from the everyday grind and get clear on your brand’s central goal. 

Reflect on these questions to define your mission:

  • Beyond growth or financial gain, what are you trying to achieve or change in the grand scheme? 
  • What positive impact or change do you want to create in the world or your community/industry? Think big-picture but also on a micro-scale.
  • What is the driving force behind your business? Why does it exist?

You can try these templates on for size to put your mission into a powerful statement:

  • We’re here to show the [world/industry] that [issue you’re solving] doesn’t have to be the norm. 
  • Dedicated to [difference you’re making] for [community/group/industry you’re helping].

The Drio mission:

“To help local service-based businesses and purpose-driven organizations stand out online.”

Brand backstory

Research shows stories make information more memorable. That’s because stories help our brains associate facts with emotions, which creates a connection that sticks. That’s why your brand backstory or origin story is integral to your brand DNA.

A brand backstory is a short narrative that captures how your business came to be in a way that sparks a connection with your audience. It supports your brand mission and values by weaving them into your business’s formation, deepening their impact.

Remember the Facebook and Tom’s facts we referenced at the beginning of this blog? Those details are so memorable because they’re rooted in storytelling and illustrate the brands’ foundational purposes. 

A brand backstory usually includes:

  • An initial conflict or status quo you wanted to change
  • A lightbulb moment
  • A few rising action events that contributed to your progress
  • A climax when your business overcame a challenge, was officially created, or took its current form 
  • A forward-facing mission where you allude to your big why and the impact you continue to make 

Creating this narrative can feel daunting if there isn’t a clear event that sparked your brand’s creation. Don’t feel pressured to manufacture something to make it more dramatic or meaningful. Lay out the facts and plot the through lines, even if they’re humble and simple. Sometimes that’s even better for creating a real human connection. 

Reflect on these questions to define your backstory:

  • When did your business come to be? 
  • Who started it?
  • What event, goal or problem sparked its creation?
  • If there wasn’t a clear event, was there a conversation or question that prompted its progress?
  • What struggles or obstacles took place along the way?
  • If the literal origin of your business is hard to nail down, has your business ever experienced a shift in focus or specialty? You can create your origin story around that narrative. 

Drio’s backstory:

Hazel, a longtime marketing specialist, and Rachel, a former civil engineer turned self-taught web developer and designer, were looking for the next chapter in their career at exactly the same time. They’d been friends since just after college, and a few happy hours and coffee dates gave way to a new and exciting business partnership.

Neither one had much “formal” experience in the web and digital space. But they didn’t let that didn’t stop them from figuring it out and wowing their clients at every turn. They put their left and right brain together to help other businesses solve their problems and create head-turning brands.

The duo quickly started making a name for themselves among Baltimore’s tight-knit creative community, forging relationships that are still very much alive today. In 2018, they founded Monument Women’s Creative Alliance, a 300-member group dedicated to supporting and connecting women creatives in the Baltimore area.

Today, more than a decade after putting their heads together, Rachel (the left brain) and Hazel (the right brain) can barely walk into a local coffee shop without running into a client or colleague. Drio has become the go-to web design and digital marketing agency for small businesses and purpose-driven organizations who want to do it right and get revenue-generating results.

Benefits and transformations

Never forget what matters most to your customers when crafting your brand DNA. This is true for all the elements we’ve outlined, but we find it helpful to summarize the benefits and transformations you provide your customers. You can easily reference them and weave those messages into your marketing. 

Reflect on these questions to define your brand’s key benefits:

  • How can customers expect to change after using your products or services? 
  • How will you improve your customer’s everyday life?
  • How will you improve the outcomes of their work? 
  • How will they see themselves on a personal level after working with you?

A few key benefits we provide Drio clients:

  • A website that showcases our client’s brand values
  • A genuine and fun relationship with a company that won’t leave them hanging
  • A tried-and-true collaborative process that combines strategy and creativity 
  • Our left-brain, right-brain approach, which examines both the big picture and the nitty gritty
  • Constant communication so our clients always feel supported
  • An obsession with staying up to date on all things marketing

Unique value proposition

In non-jargony terms, a unique value proposition is the super special thing that benefits your customers and makes them want to choose you. Your value prop draws from the elements we’ve defined and wraps it into a concise statement. 

It can be a single sentence or a more fleshed-out “elevator pitch.” We recommend creating a couple of variations that capture your special factor. 

Reflect on these questions to define your UVP:

  • What do you offer?
  • Who do you serve?
  • What are the benefits of your offer (which you already defined!)?
  • What makes you different from your competitors? This could include skills, expertise, personal/life experience, your approach, or your values

Here’s a snippet from Drio’s Unique Value Prop:

These days, it’s not particularly hard to find a website designer or a self-proclaimed digital marketing expert. But you know what’s *really* hard to find? Creativity and strategy. Reliability and likability. A left brain and a right brain collaborating throughout the entire process to make sure your final product strikes the right balance between head-turning and revenue-generating. A team who gets it exactly right the first time, on time. That’s what you get with Drio. 

Brand personality and voice

Your brand personality refers to the human-like characteristics or demeanor that your brand conveys. Everything from your visual identity to your tone of voice captures your brand’s personality and reflects it back to your audience. It is enormous for attracting the right people and repelling the wrong ones. So you’ll want to set guidelines for it. 

Are you formal or casual? Do you speak like a close friend, a rebellious change-maker, or a wise guide? The possibilities are endless and 100% unique to you. 

Reflect on these questions to define your personality:

  • What four adjectives would you use to describe your brand personality, and what do those mean to you?
  • If your brand were an archetype or character, who would they be?
  • What kind of places would your brand likely hang out? 
  • What kind of music would they listen to, and what would be their hobbies?

Drio’s brand personality

At Drio, we consider our brand personality an insightful translator mixed with the friend you meet at your favorite coffee shop. We simplify complex concepts and treat our audience like we’ve known them forever, fusing fun and optimism with approachable expertise.

Want to take your brand DNA a step further?

Free Resource: Uncover your brand values

Uncover all the goodness your business does out of your brain—and into the world. Our free guide provides reflective prompts, value statement templates, and ideas for bringing it all to life on your website.

To access the guide complete the form below:

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    About the Author: Hazel Geary

    She’s led marketing efforts for multimillion-dollar brands including Under Armour, McCormick, and more. You know the window installations at department stores that make you want to buy all the things? She helped concept, design, and install those across the country for Under Armour. In other words, she knows a thing or two about creating head-turning brands. Now, as the marketing strategist in your back pocket, she’ll be the sounding board and outside perspective you need to get clear on your unique market position.

    Ready to strike your perfect balance between head turning and revenue generating?

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