In an ideal world, everyone would love our product. In the real world, that’s not going to happen.

“When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” – Meredith Hill

Although your products or services might attract a large group, they simply cannot attract everyone.

When working with a client on brand identity development, one of the first things I ask is about their target audience. After all, how can you build a brand identity if you don’t know who the brand needs to resonate with.

It’s so important to know exactly WHO your ideal client is. Not only will it help you WHAT to say and WHERE to find them, but more importantly, when you do find them you will be heard because your message resonates with them. It’s also crucial to know this when building a brand, so your brand will look, sound and feel appealing to your target audience.

So, we know understanding and defining your target market is crucial.

But HOW do we define our target market? There are so many different elements we can think about when we are trying to identify our ideal customer.

People often gravitate to common characteristics, such as age, gender, occupation, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this. I love specific and niche definitions.

But is this really the best criteria to judge if someone is right for your product or service? I say no! I personally think to categorize your target market solely in this way is quite limiting. After all, demographics are quite a crude definition.

But wait, there are some exceptions. Especially with certain products, they really are only suitable for a very specific person e.g. gowns for graduates, dog biscuits for dog owners.

The purpose of selecting a target market is to help you identify the people who really want or need what you are offering. Sometimes, demographics work perfectly. Most often a deeper understanding is needed.

Let’s face it… young people aren’t the only ones concerned about the environment. Old people aren’t the only ones that go on cruises. Affluent people aren’t the only ones that enjoy opera.

The most important thing is to avoid making too many assumptions. You need to put your product or service into the world and let the attitudes and actions of others guide your definition of your target market.

So, what if we try to understand what kind of person they are? Sounds interesting, but ‘HOW’, I hear you ask.

So how do we go about understanding our target audience on a deeper level?

I’ve identified 3 basic categories to pin down your target audience that will create an essential foundation to building a more meaningful brand.

Their situation.

Where are they at right now? What stage of life are they in? e.g. retirees, new parents. What is their lifestyle? What do they enjoy doing? What are they struggling with? What do they want to achieve?

Their beliefs and values.

What do they believe in? Do they have strong political or religious views? What’s their attitude towards life?

Their personality.

Are they fun or serious? Are they spontaneous or organised? Modern or traditional? Adventurous or cautious?

Once you understand your ideal client on a deeper level, you should talk about these aspects in your content. This will help you stand out as it will feel like you are directly talking to THEM, not just to the general population.

But these values and personality attributes should not only be conveyed in what you say. They should also be communicated in how your brand LOOKS and FEELS.

For example, if you say you want to attract environmentally conscious vegans who want to make the world a better place and advocate for animal rights.

Or, if you want to attract cosmopolitan, professional city types who regularly travel first class. How will your brand need to look, sound and feel to attract them?

The definition of your target audience should go beyond a list of characteristics. It should feel human.

Your brand should also feel human. After all people resonate with people like themselves. How will you reflect the values of your target audience into your own brand personality?

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