We are going to build personas.

And I don’t mean this on a creepy stormy background, evil laughter, rusty light switches and epic Frankensteinesque* music…

Nope! When I say building personas, I am talking about getting to know the people you want to connect with in your business -your tribe- to create long lasting relationships.

You might think you know them, but…do you? (thunderstorm sound)…

My own race of people

(Bride of the monster, Ed Wood, 1955)

Traditionally, companies have a product or service (WHAT) and a way of doing things that makes them different (HOW). Based on this, they put the message out there following some demographic and behavioural information: We make great products with these features. Do you want to buy one?.

It is a process happening from the outside in. Uninspiring.

But things -and communication -have changed and people are more than ever broadcasting opinions, values, contradictions, thoughts, emotions, motivations…

Among this endless sea of voices, there is the audience for your business, your tribe. How to find them? You will save a lot of time and money if you look for what you and them have in common: why you do this and why they would buy it…

And when you don’t do this work…well, then you create a monster…ask BIC about BIC for her.

So, before going outwards throwing your hooks, you need to go inwards and find your WHY. 

Golden Circle model from WHAT to WHY, based on Simon Sinek’s model on inspirational leadership.

Why? Why?

(The fly, Kurt Neumann, 1958)

I feel the disbelief creeping inside some startups when I bring these concepts up early in the process:

“Finding my WHY? Like… now?, but all I want is a logo”…

Well, most startups want to create a community that is loyal to the brand: the tribe.

Logos and websites are deliverables, but a brand…we are talking about a gut feeling here. And who has that gut feeling? The people who share your WHY.

So, ask yourself this question: WHY do you do what you do? WHY are you creating this business? Money is a result, so, what else?. Think! Let me give you some help:

Everything we do, is based in our belief of (WHY): challenging status quo / making a difference / unite the world through sports / provide freedom /

The way we do that WHY is by (HOW): striving for excellence in every detail / designing unique pieces / hiring the best talents / providing 24/7 customer care /…

Which results in (WHAT): your product or service

Click, you have it!!! You found the under running motivation that will connect you with your tribe.

So…who are the people sharing your WHY? Let’s build our personas.

It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive!

(Frankenstein, James Whale, 1931)
Demographic, behavioural, phsychographic and motivational information is needed to have a realistic profile of the people we want to connect with

Your startup can have several personas, it can be your current customer and/or your ideal one, depending on where you are and where you want to be.

In any case, think in who are the people currently buying your product or service? What do they do? Are they the type of client you would like to have or is there out there any other type you would like to reach?

Write your list, it shouldn’t be more than 4 types, you can always expand once your company is up and running. So, get your scalpel ready…we are creating your personas!

Let’s imagine that with your startup people can “book” a family for a Sunday stroll, or walk in the park (true story, it exists in Japan. While living there, I “booked” a Japanese aunt and uncle for an afternoon tea).

– What is your WHY? To provide every person with the feeling of belonging.

– Who uses currently your services? Group 1: People living abroad who miss their family. 

– Who do you want to use your services? Group 2: Elderly people living alone.

Beside numbers and stats, you need to dive a little deep, and connect your WHY to theirs. You need to translate the stats and numbers, behaviours and psychographic information into a person’s real life that you and your team will be referring to. See what they say in social media, what are they worried about, ask them, listen to them.

Take all the features, beliefs, thoughts… that define this type of customers, and create the story, motivation, behaviour that a person with all these features will have. Ta dá…your persona is alive!

This is not an exercise on random imagination, it is data translated into people so that you know more about those who share your values and WHY’s.

You can make the persona as thorough as you want. Including here a whole document would be too long, but at the end of your research, your personas need to look something like this (excerpt)

Persona 1. Meet Paul.

Paul is a German engineer, he moved to Iceland 5 years ago. He met his wife in Reykjavik and they have one kid. Paul’s wife is a doctor and works in the hospital, so she has different shifts, and Paul and his son spend a lot of time with each other.

Paul is concerned his son, being an only child, is not in touch with other children often, so he uses your service to facilitate his son to get in touch with family groups from different backgrounds and ethnics. This way Paul is enabling his son to feel welcomed in different types of families.

Persona 2. Meet Brigit.

Brigit is an Icelandic woman, she is a widow and has a son living in Akureyri and a daughter living in Hapfjanordur. She was a teacher and is currently retired. She has plenty of time and is very active, walking and hiking around Reykjavik. She has joined several groups for activities such as art, and book clubs, but she misses the feeling of family.

The daughter works in the hospital (is she Paul’s wife?), is single (aw, no, she is not…) and has grown apart from her mother, so Brigit feels lonely. 


See? It was not so difficult, but just in case, find here a checklist:

A professional of brand strategy will help you putting together, ahem,
the different bodies of information required to build your persona

Luckily, we don’t have to be mad scientists to build personas, nor we have to impose subliminal tricks on people to convert them into our customers.

We have a better way to do this now: we create business we believe in, connect honestly with the people you share values with and make yourself useful to them.

No more evil laughters…

*Frankenstein, the doctor, failed catastrophically when building his persona, as we all know. Frankenstein, the book, is an amazing overlooked humanistic story, the first considered sci-fi work, a brilliantly built literary jewel, and one of my favourite books, just saying…