How to create User Personas for your branding or website project

User personas are fictional characters created to represent the different types of customers or users that might use a business or brand’s product or service. Creating a strong and effective brand is not just about having a catchy logo or a memorable tagline; it’s about truly understanding who your customers are and how best to serve them. By creating Personas, you create a guide for your business on who your customers are, and how to speak with them that will help simplify your marketing process by ensuring you’re on target.

So… what are User Personas?

Example user personas for a branding project

User personas are fictional characters that businesses create based on research to represent different segments of their target market. These personas are crafted from data collected through user research, including demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The key purpose of developing user personas is to tailor your branding and marketing to meet the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups within your target audience.

A well-defined user persona will help you understand what potential customers are thinking and how they might interact with your brand. These insights help to make sure that your product development, marketing, customer service, and content creation are in line with what your real customers actually want.

Who do you think you’re talking to… Or the process of creating User Personas

Creating user personas starts with gathering a mix of information about your potential customers. This can include surveys, interviews, or even observing people in their usual environments to understand how they interact with products or services.

Once you have this information, the next step is to spot trends and shared characteristics, for example grouping people by demographics, age, lifestyle, or habits, and determining common challenges or goals they have.

Once you’ve done your homework, then you can start sketching out your personas. We recommend about three to five to keep it targeted. Give them names, add demographic details, and describe their wants and needs. Make them feel real but avoid clichés. It’s like putting together a character outline for a story. There’s no need to get stuck into minutiae but include some finer points that make them feel real.

Now, check that these personas actually reflect your audience. Getting feedback from your team, and even from real users can help refine them. It might take a couple of goes to get it right but the effort will pay dividends. They can guide how you develop your products or services, market them, and design the overall customer experience. The aim is to align what you do with what your users/customers really need/want.

OK. OK. Show me an example! (Geeze alright, easy tiger.)

Consumer-Based Example: Coffee Shop User Persona

Imagine a coffee shop in a bustling part of town that wants to develop its branding and customer experience. The shop might create several user personas to represent its customer base, one of which could be “Commuter Claire.” (Super cringe name but it’s descriptive, and we know who they are).

Profile of Commuter Claire:

  • Age: 29
  • Occupation: Corporate lawyer
  • Lifestyle: Busy professional, health-conscious, lives in the city, commutes by train.
  • Motivations: Seeks convenience and quick service, values quality, and is happy to pay a premium for better taste or healthier options.
  • Goals: Wants to minimise morning stress with a quick coffee stop that won’t slow her down.
  • Challenges: Often feels rushed and dislikes waiting in long lines. Prefers ordering ahead for pickup.
  • Behavioural Traits: Uses an app for payments and rewards; engages with brands on social media; reads online reviews before trying new places.

By crafting this persona, the coffee shop can tailor its services and marketing efforts to better cater to Claire’s needs. For instance, they might focus on:

  • Speed and Convenience: Implementing a mobile order-ahead feature that allows Claire to buy her coffee en route and pick it up without waiting in line.
  • Quality and Branding: Emphasising the quality of ingredients, sourcing of coffee beans, and roasting methods in their branding to appeal to her willingness to pay for premium.
  • Marketing Communications: Sending targeted promotions through the app or social media about new health-conscious blends or loyalty rewards that might appeal to her.

User personas like “Commuter Claire” help the coffee shop to visualise their marketing and product offerings from the perspective of their most valuable customer segments. This focused approach not only builds customer satisfaction but also drives business efficiency by aligning product development and marketing initiatives with the actual needs of their target audience.

Your Personas in use

User personas are like characters in your brand’s story. They help you tell a story that feels personal and relevant to your audience. Building on the ideas for “Commuter Claire” above, ways to best use your personas would include.

1. Personalised Messaging:

Tailor your brand’s voice to speak directly to your personas. If you have a persona like “Eco-Friendly Emma,” your messages might focus on sustainability and your brand’s environmental efforts.

2. Product Stories:

Highlight how your products or services fit into the daily lives of your personas. For a persona that values convenience, share stories about how your product saves time or simplifies tasks.

3. Content That Connects:

Create content that reflects the interests and challenges of your personas. If one of your personas is passionate about health and wellness, you might share health tips, recipes, or wellness routines.

4. Emotional Engagement:

Use your personas to craft stories that resonate on an emotional level. Understanding what drives your personas—like aspirations or fears—allows you to craft narratives that strike a deeper chord.

By integrating user personas into your brand story, you make your brand not just seen but felt. This approach helps build a stronger connection with your audience, making your brand more memorable and relatable.

Tools to help

There are a bunch of options that can help you get started on your customer/user personas. Some free, some paid. These tools offer a range of functionality, from data gathering and analysis to the actual design and presentation of personas. Here are some that will help get you started:

  1. Xtensio – Xtensio is a popular tool for creating user personas as well as other marketing documents. It offers a user-friendly interface and customisable templates which make it easy to create, manage, and share personas.
  2. HubSpot Make My Persona – HubSpot offers a free tool specifically designed for creating buyer personas. It guides you through a series of questions about your ideal customer and generates a persona document that you can download and use in your strategy. (It’s super easy and a great place to start)
  3. Userforge – Userforge provides a comprehensive approach to creating detailed user personas. It emphasizes consistency in details across personas, which can be particularly useful for larger teams ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  4. UXPressia – UXPressia is a platform that allows you to create detailed user personas along with customer journey maps. It offers rich, visually engaging templates that can help bring your personas to life for presentations and strategic planning.
  5. Persona Generator by Smaply – This is another great tool that helps create detailed personas and also allows for the integration of stakeholder maps and journey maps into the persona profiles, providing a holistic view of the customer experience.

These tools cater to different needs, from simple persona creation (Hubspot) to more complex needs like integrating personas with customer journey mapping (Smaply). Depending on your specific requirements and team size, one of these tools could be a good place to start. Stay tuned also for our article on customer journey mapping.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand the value of putting together these sketches of your audience. Ultimately they remind you who you’re talking to and how best to speak with them. If it all seems like a bit too much work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can help you get started on focusing your communications on the people that matter.

FAQs

What are the basic elements of a user persona?

A user persona typically includes demographic information like age and profession, psychographic details such as interests and values, and behavioral traits that reflect their habits and preferences. It’s also useful to include their goals, challenges, and any specific scenarios that describe how they interact with your product or service.

How often should user personas be updated?

User personas should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they remain relevant. A good rule of thumb is to revisit them whenever you receive significant new customer data or at least once a year. Changes in market trends or business objectives might also require updates.

Can small businesses benefit from user personas?

Absolutely! Small businesses can benefit greatly from user personas as they help focus limited resources on strategies that effectively reach their target audience. Personas help small businesses understand their customers’ needs more deeply, enabling more personalized and effective marketing and service strategies.

How many personas are ideal for a business?

The ideal number of user personas varies depending on the diversity of your customer base and the range of your products or services. We recommend businesses stick to three to five personas that cover the majority of their customer base without becoming overwhelming or too diluted in focus.

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