Branding Essentials: How to Work with Customer Personas | Ilya Lobanov | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Branding Essentials: How to Work with Customer Personas

teacher avatar Ilya Lobanov, Creating brands that make impact

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Get Started with Customer Centric Branding

    • 2. How Branding Works Today

    • 3. Targeting Customer Needs

    • 4. Examples of Customer Centric Brands

    • 5. Customer Personas Part 1

    • 6. Customer Personas Part 2

    • 7. Customer Personas Part 3

    • 8. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

I feel that branding has been brand-focused for too long, without much consideration for the customer. It has been a one to many approach for ages and relied on a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

Branding is evolving

But today, customers are starting to get the upper hand, with the ability to change service providers and products after a quick Google search, if something is not to their liking.

What can we do as brand builders?

So as a brand builder and owner, you need a way to make customers initially pay attention to your brand and business, but even more importantly, you need a way to make them stay.

I have a decade of experience in the world of UX design where everything is focused around the User’s Needs, and so I’ve found it very natural to combine it with my passion for Branding.

What is this class about?

In this class, I’m going to show you my method of injecting a customer-centric approach into the way a brand does business, from a branding perspective.

This change of mindset is what’s going to make your brand stand out from those companies that don’t consider human needs in their business.

I invite you to enrol now and I will see you in the next video.

What you will learn in the class:

  • Learn about the Human Needs Pyramid, and how it can be considered in branding a business
  • Take a look at some Customer-Centric brand examples
  • Take a deep dive into using a Customer Persona Worksheet to learn about your customers’ challenges, feelings, and thoughts
  • Learn how to distill your findings and identify Human Needs that you can help to solve for your customers

Who is the class for:

  • Business Owners with a new or existing company
  • Brand Designers looking to get into strategy
  • Brand Strategists wanting to add to their process
  • Marketing Professionals
  • Freelancers
  • Solopreneurs

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ilya Lobanov

Creating brands that make impact


I help ambitious designers and marketers level-up their skills and boost creativity.

A passionate ambassador of the Creative Thinking Mindset, I teach designers and creatives how learning and practicing this skill can transform any creative into a more powerful and confident problem solver and designer. Join me and explore my classes on Skillshare.

To stay up to date with latest design tips, free access to latest classes, as well as free downloadable guides and resources, join the Studeo Insider club.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Get Started with Customer Centric Branding: Hey, hey fellow creatives, entrepreneurs. If you've been following my content or my previous classes, you'll know that I'm really passionate about customer centric branding. I feel that branding has been brand focus for way too long, without too much consideration for the customers really. He was always a one-to-many approach. And using that build it and they will come intelligence. But today, likely they were starting to turn. And customers do have more than the upper hand. They have the ability to now change the service or product after pre much a quick Google search, you've something is not quite working. So as a brand builder, you need to find a way to attract those customers and prospects. But even more importantly, you need to find a way to make them state with over a decade of experience in the UX world where pretty much everything is user centered and user-focused. I found it's really natural to combine my two passions of user experience and branding. And so in today's class actually wants to share my approach to injecting that customer centricity into branding and the way that your business can act from a branding perspective. So this class is great for business owners of either an existing company or a new one. Also, if you're a brand designer or a strategist who helps clients with their branding. This class will also be super valuable. As part of your class project, you're going to be completing a customer persona worksheet, as well as identifying the human needs for each of your key customer personas and finding a way to solve those needs for them. I can tell you that that change of mindset is what's going to really set your brand apart from those businesses who don't consider human needs in their business or branch. So I hope that you roll and I'll see you in the next video. 2. How Branding Works Today: So by now, most of us know that a brand is the sum of all of its parts in, as defined by the way that customers perceive the company. Currently the way that most SMEs approach branding is as follows. They create a product or service, they find a way to position within the market. They create a logo or brand identity and they start marketing. So we can have a look at this free C model, which is a pretty good model for creating a brand strategy around which considers the company, the competition, and the customer. At least that's the idea. Majority of businesses actually approach the branding process where they've taken position and finding the position by looking at the competition. And of course, the competition and the customer that we have, the category and between the company and the customer they're supposed to be value. But that's actually the most forgotten branding aspects. And something that I feel strongly about, something that's missing in the current scenario of branding. I think that's come from this whole idea that branding was originally based around the mentality of Build it. And they will come. And if you have a look at this set gotten quote, he actually says that the Build it and they will come only really works in the movies. It's more like build it, nurture it, engage them in the MAY come and stay. And that really shows you how the way that the branding, the world of branding and customer interaction has changed dramatically. We can have a look at the extinction rate for companies in the last 50 years or so. And we can see that in the 1928, for example, we had the average rate for an existing company was over a 100 years. And you can see that that actually declining steadily today. We can expect the business to last for an average 15 years. And that's a pretty massive fold. And that's because we now live in a consumer society. The way that we purchase and make purchases decisions as consumers and customers has changed. Medically, brands have to meet our needs and expectation if they want to survive. So when the image and product not no longer sufficient, if you want to attract and retain customers. Brands that failed to fulfill the human needs of the customers are struggling to stay relevant. So I've got this statistics here to show you that over 90% of consumers indicated that authenticity is determining factor in helping them choose which brand they will buy from. And at the end of the day, what is brand authenticity? It actually means that the customers feel trust towards a brand because the brand will come through on their promises and that they will fulfill the needs and expectations. Now let's have a look at the flip side of that and have a look at it from them, live thing and branding side. And only 49% of the marketing leaders across different B2C and B2B brands actually believe that they are providing an experience that's aligned to those customers needs and expectations. So you can tell that there's a huge disconnect in there at the moment in terms of branding as a business, you have to flip the conversation and make it about your customer more southern your brand. And I'm going to dive into that topic in the next video. 3. Targeting Customer Needs: So let's take a look at the W3C model for brand strategy again, where we have the company, the competition on the customer. And as we discussed, berries, that lack of customer value or our customer needs being met between the customer and the company. Now let's take a look at another 3C model that I've devised is, first of all, we've got the customer value and the customer experience, the customer journey. I'm making up what is customer centric branding. So we've got the customer value, first of all, that's connecting to the customer experience. And that will mean actually empowering your customer service team to create more value for the customers. Then between the customer experience, you've got the customer journey, which is pretty much all the different touch points that your customer goes through. And between that, we can continuously develop our product and service and continuously improve that based on the customer experiences that you're having or the customer is experiencing with your brand or service. And has, you are observing them going through the customer journey, you can continuously improve and they're rising and developing needs. And finally, between the customer journey and the customer value that you're creating, you can actually start to create services that continue to meet those needs. Can Continuous Improvement and continuous rise and meat of needs is the key ingredient in customer centricity. So of course, the biggest argument against customer centricity is this quote by Henry Ford, that a lot of people, even personally to me, they have raised this quote. If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. That's in relation to he was creating the motorized vehicles. But of course, we don't need to look at that statement has a literal thing. And indeed, if you are an innovative company, it's unlikely that your customers will be able to predict what it is that they need, even if you ask them, for example, in the case of Apple, if Apple had asked them what they wanted, it's unlikely that people would have said, we want touchscreens and smartphones. But the trick is to ask them in and observe your customers and look at the different interactions in touch points. And actually start developing the ability to predict what the needs are and then innovating the service and products around those needs. To solve them. You really need to get into your customer's shoes and really think from their perspective, sad thinking about what causes that they care about. What keeps them up at night. What makes them feel good? How do they define success? And much more importantly, how and what role does your brand play in creating that success for them? Then you can use a tool like the falling pyramid of needs to think about what needs your brand could solve for your customers. Of course, we have the base needs that most of us expect and then hire more meaningful needs that we can aspire to solve. So you probably have heard the saying that customer is always right. And the thing is this is something that was come up with when it was more of a gimmick for department stores to draw more attention and more foot traffic into the department stores in early twenties. And it wasn't really serving the customer or the business because it was really just a gimmick. So what we actually need to do is examine the question by Henry Ford. It'll be able to understand how you can actually start to read between the lines and start to predict what the customer's needs might be. So with that question of, what do they want faster horses? If they, if that was the answer by the customer, you can actually start to read between the lines and see what needs could that actually allude to? And just from the wording itself, even you could easily get to the point that you can understand that what they're asking for you, some kind of a change or transformation. And what do you actually would be the aiming to provide to them is a faster, more convenient method of transportation. Identifying the customer needs will give you a tremendous advantage. Hallway business that doesn't consider those customer needs. Now in the next video, I'm going to have a look at some successful companies that utilize that technique for customer centricity and the way that they do it. And something that has helped them to become more valuable companies and more sustainable in the long run. So check out the next video. 4. Examples of Customer Centric Brands: So here's some practical examples of some well-known brands that use customer centricity in the branding. For example, Amazon, and gives consumers more choice than ever with the one-day shaping and easily returns. And all those creative locations and all of that, of course, accumulates to them solving the need of choice and autonomy for the customers. Netflix shows that the truly know the customer inside and art by showing them really personalized recommendations for the shows that they're actually want to watch. And of course, the need that the solving there is things that like this, cavalry and pleasure for the customer. Now, Airbnb belong anywhere. Narrative makes customers feel a sense of community and inclusion wherever they go. Of course, linking to the need of belonging and community which most of us strive for. So once you know your three or four top customer needs that you have identified and that you know that you Brian consult. It's actually the time to identify the ways in which your brand can solve and each of those needs by bringing value. And then you implement some actionable and measurable processes with your employees and your team as well to make sure that you can fulfill those needs in each interaction. Remember, of course, this is not about tricking the customer into creating clever marketing messages and misleading ways that your making promises as a brand that you will solve particular needs for their customers. This is actually looking inside of your brand and the business and maybe even tweaking some process for the business to make sure that you can solve and provide answers for those needs that customers are having and that you have identified. So in the next video, I'm going to go over a tool that you can use to help you identify those customer needs so that you can have a clearer picture of how we can solve this. 5. Customer Personas Part 1: So coming from a digital background, I've used persona's for many years. And it's a great way to identify the challenges and pain points for your user whenever you're creating some kind of a web platform or an app or any digital experience, or pretty much any experience for that matter. And I've combined my two passions of branding and user experience and basically morph them together. And I think it's natural that then I've used this user personas template that I've created for you. And you can also use this to help you identify those customer needs and pain points and start to get a better understanding about your users or your customers in get a clearer picture of how it can help them. So you can have a look at the resources section and take a look at the template. You'll see that it has a number of sections that you can fill out. First of all, your goal is to identify your key customer persona's. Typically it's not uncommon to have three or four customer personas is a key. Avatars, if you like, for the customers that may interact with your brand, look at them more, guesses, stereotypes as groups of customers. And you'll need to fill out the worksheet for each of those key customer personas because each one will have different types of needs, especially depending on the different place where they're at in the customer journey. So for example, if we have a travel company that provides personalized travel experiences for B2B scenario, then we might have one user persona or customer persona as a C EO of a large organization. Then customer persona number two might be a marketing manager for a B2B company, customer persona number frequently and Events Manager for B2B company and so on. And potentially other people in the decision-making roles who may interact with your company and services. This can be looked at as a guest stereotypes that you can group customers into a particular group together. You can use CRM tools to have a look at some common characteristics that your clients have in a way that you can group them into this identifier. We'll close this. You can also look at statistics for your website visitors or just your client list In general, if that's a small enough list. And think about each one in the context of the customer buyers journey. Each one goes through as again, there needs will change depending on the different phase of the customer journey. And that at each customer will typically go through and awareness, consideration, conversion, retention, and loyalty phases. And as you complete the worksheet for each, again, consider how the needs might be different for different phase of the customer journey they are at for each user persona or customer persona that you're completing the worksheet. So in the next video, I'm going to have a practical example of what our travel company example. So we can have a look at the creation process for the customer persona in how we might actually think about thinking about the customer needs and challenges, so on. So I'll see you next video. 6. Customer Personas Part 2: So here's a practical example of how we would complete a user persona or customer persona worksheet based on a brand that we are working with. So in our case where working with a company providing travel experiences or tailored shovel experiences for B2B organisations. And we are going to focus on the marketing manager working for a B2B company that may be interested in travel experiences. So we first of all open up this quadrant worksheet that I've supplied in the resources section. And you'll see it has, has four sections. Says, thinks does in fields. And so if you are familiar with UX design, you might have come across this. But as I mentioned, my passions are combining UX and branding. And therefore I'm actually using a version of the UX user personas worksheets in my branding exercises. So first of all, we're going to complete some of the tasks for our persona. So we're going to say perhaps her name is Susie. She is she's an early forties occupation, is a marketing manager. Status is single, work focused or Korea focused. Her primary concern is, well, she's in charge of a large marketing and design department in so he thinks her branch targets and also hurt team performance. One of the key concerns that she has. Now I'm going to have a look at the things that she says, thinks, does and fields. And again, as I mentioned, this perception based, but it's critical to actually complete this worksheets with your user in mind. So put yourself in the clients or the customers shoes, but best of all, collect some data on validating these perceptions and assumptions that you're making. So if you have customer interviews or you have some service that you have sent out to the customers. All of these things can be used to populate this worksheets or validate them if you've already created something. So what this Susan's saying, obviously, she has pressure for upper management and she's generally a pretty busy professional. So I would say she might say something along the lines of I work hard and solid as my theme in we need to be rewarded with proper vacation time and other perks. So that's something that she, my openness say and share with the rest of our theme. What this ship Pink. She may think that she, Hadley has. Time for a personal life. So might as well enjoy my time at work. So she may be doesnt openly say that, but she might be thinking this. Of course, you can fill out as many of the other elements for the different think, says and does end feels quadrants. But I'm just going through an example here so you can get an idea of what is involved. Now maybe we'll have a look at the feeling. She might be feeling frustrated. And Ron provide us that providing travel experiences. So I'm going to put down that. I feel frustrated when choosing a travel provider. We've unclear itineraries. That might be 1 third pain points in frustrations. What this should do exactly well, we can say that she uses a desktop computer at work, but she browsers the Web through her phone a lot because she's always on the move, whether that's going to work or from work or she's waiting in between different meetings, catching Uber between different meanings meetings. So she's probably all frequently uses her phone to browse. How I can probably say that she's pretty motivated in general and because she's so Korea focused. And so I would say that she's really focused on her personal growth and transformation. I would say that she also probably have a tense networking events and perhaps even traveled conferences that because she's so career focused sheep likes to play hard as well as they say. So she might be attending travel conferences and just in general being kind of a social life. Now, this She may also think that for as far as travel experiences, that she might think that it would be great to experience something out of the ordinary rather than the standard off the shelf travel destinations and packages that she normally comes across when it comes to travel experiences for her and her team. So now based on all of these, you can go ahead and complete more and more of this quadrants. And then based on that, what you might start to see and pull out is some of her key pain points and her customer needs that she might have based on the customer pyramid that we've gone through. So now, what do I think that the main pain point might be? Well, first of all, I know that she has pressure from upper management. That's one of the key pain points. She has also just generally a lack of time. So like have time to organize any events for herself or her theme. And I think she with so many options available in this industry, she probably feels lack of clarity around making decisions. And I would say she's frustrated that perhaps there's a lack of flexibility for of choices from this applies. Now, what are the customer needs is she's actually probably one thing too, to have personal development and growth. And she's really looking for discovery of new places and experiences in she really feels that she wants to experience something quite unique. So based on all of these things, then we know that paint bought her pain points and customer needs are we can start to get a clearer picture of how we can position our brand as we discussed, and what customer needs we can focus on to and how we can adjust our business a little bit to suit all answer her customer needs. So we can see that she's after personal transformation and growth and she's looking for new experiences and discoveries. And based on that, we can actually start to feel like the next part of the worksheet, which is basically something called a customer journey. So all of us, as customers of any given brand or business or product would go through a set of stages. So maybe just considering a service, or maybe just thinking about the service that we're searching for. A particular supplier. Or we may not even be aware of something that we need. Or we may be already deep into the search and actually selecting a provider for us. So we'll go through these different stages. So we typically have a look at five stages. We can see here we have the awareness, consideration, conversion, retention, and loyalty. And so we can go through and start filling out some of these key criteria. So for example, for the awareness stage, what Susie's user goal or main goal might be ease. She she probably expects to find all the information that she needs quickly so she can make informed decisions. That may be actually her expectation. And the way that she might find that is through a Google search. But she also may use that find that information through their word of mouth or trade show that she attends self. So this is the thing that how she come across your brand ends products and services. That's what the touch point is. Her golf or for the awareness stage is probably just to learn about the options in the travel industry and what, who has, what kind of flexibility of options. And so perhaps for the opportunity then is what the brand can actually do to help meet those expectations and needs for Susie. And so for instance, for the awareness stage, what we can do is based on her requirements, we can actually show some key. Case studies shows showcase our and establish our credibility. Main case studies and showing how we've previously solved and provide a flexibility of options to our previous customers in the B2B area. Then what she might go through in the consideration consideration stage, she she might actually go through a slightly different touch points. You might go through just google search, but you might also go through a live chat directly on the website or shall I just call up a sales department and have a chat to them? And so the opportunity to there, it could be that you might want to demonstrate common values than future vision that you share and actually show and talk about the unique travel experiences and showcase different packages. So perhaps you would pay a law and create specific packages based on the person's experiences in life or their preferences. You may actually have some sort of a clever filter or widget that helps you to customize the, the packages based on your needs. So this are all of the things that you can adjust in the way that you run the business. And of course, you can use this worksheet to help you define and determine those things. And now for example, in the retention and loyalty stages, One of the opportunities might be to actually provide some kind of incentivized office that you might be sending through direct marketing. So you might be sending that through the EDM or just on the sales call or customer service call. And you might be actually sharing some ways where they can maybe upgrade the annual membership. Maybe they gone annual membership subscription rather than paper experience. And then that might even give them even further flexibility and options as far as the packages goal. So this is an example of completing a customer journey and the customer persona worksheets just based on one persona. So remember you might have three or four key personas for your, for your business or your service. So you would probably go through and actually is complete those for those freak or four key persona's. And based on that, then you have clear opportunities as to how they can actually start to action and what things you can start to action in order to, for your business to come good on the promises and come good on the customer needs. And that's how you can ultimately position yourself as a more customer centric business and brand. Now, in the next video, we're going to have a quick look at other things that you can do to make sure that your customer centric business is going and coming through on those promises. So I'll see you in the next video. 7. Customer Personas Part 3: So just remember with the customer personas that you are creating. And you can make certain perceptions and assumptions about your customers and their needs and what the challenges are. But ultimately, you really want to be able to qualify them with some qualitative research. You can use things like customer interviews. Perhaps. That means interviewing some customers who fit a certain persona and then getting to know them and the challenges firsthand and how they all become it. You can also accomplish that by using online surveys. Existing customers. They can fill out surveys that you can create more than accurate customer persona. Ultimately, it's great to have some assumptions and perceptions about your customers. But at the end of the day, you want that to be somehow validated through some kind of a data. So if you have existing data that I've mentioned, such as your website analytics, your CRM tools, interviews with customers, as well as any online surveys or any other qualitative data that you can validate your assumptions that will make your customer personas more stronger, more clear, and will help you make it the best tool to make business and branding decisions in the future. So ultimately, the clearer and more validated user persona or customer persona is, the better tool it is. So now, after you completed your customer personas and identify the customer needs that they might have. It's actually start time to start thinking about how your business might change or what kind of things you might implement in your business to start going good on those promises or on actually fulfilling those needs for them. So to recap, identify ways in which a business can help answer each persona's need by bringing value to that particular customer. And then implement actionable and measurable processes that your employees and your entire team can fulfill an answer those needs in each interaction and with every touch point. And of course, as I mentioned, it's not about putting a facade, using clever marketing messages and basically misleading the customers into them, believing that you can solve their problems and challenges for them. It's actually about maybe even tweaking some of your business processes and finding ways that you can make adjustments if you need to, to be able to solve those needs for them. And the thing is, identifying the customer needs is something that's going to give you a tremendous advantage for the businesses that don't use that. And ultimately, the customer may not always be right, but they always do have a right to choose. And ultimately, that will always choose a business that can see this customer needs over ones and doesn't. 8. Final Thoughts: Huge Congrats. You've just made your first steps in making your business or brand more customer centric. If you're a brand designer or brand strategies, you can also use these same techniques to help your clients and define their brands and make it become more customer-centric as well as this, remember completing the worksheets is all well and good, but the premature useless unless you put some kind of an actionable plan behind it to come good on those promises in those actions and plants. So I suggest that for pretty much for every customer persona that you identified and for each customer need that you've identified, makes sure to list some actionable step that you're going to implement or change in your business so that you can fulfill those needs. For your class project, I would love for you to share one user persona or customer persona with me and showing me what kind of customer needs you identified for them. And most importantly, what kind of action you're planning to put towards solving that need or fulfilling that need for the customers. As always, if you enjoyed this class, really appreciate a honest review and hope to see you in my future classes. Thanks again.