One Ideal Client Profile is Enough

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When I first learned how to do brand strategy, I tried to do everything “by the book,” meaning, exactly as I learned it.

I originally learned that I should do 3 user profiles (aka customer profiles). These profiles are personas of the ideal customers/target audience—their demographics, their psychographics, mindset, problems, goals, and challenges getting to those goals. By knowing the target audience, we as brand strategists and designers are better able to play matchmaker and create brand personalities that the target audience will fall in love with. 

However, in the very first brand strategy workshop I facilitated, I realized that doing 3 user profiles was not going to work for us. 

I was working with Madalena from Accessible Translation Solutions and we had outlined the user personas. 

Here’s a small preview from the 3 persona profiles: 

1. Jules, a 36 year old product strategist who wants to help her company get into untapped markets. 
2. Greg, a 45 year old laid back executive who wants his insurance company to be a household name in the Spanish speaking community. 
3. Andrea, 40 year old HR professional who wants to communicate smoothly with employees. 

After I gathered all the information from her, I was trying to figure out how to design the brand based on these three personas. I had pages of information and was trying to categorize it in my mind, but it just seemed so all over the place. 3 was too many for my brain to process.

I’m all about getting clarity and mining for the golden nuggets, so I then asked her– “if you had to pick just one ideal client from these three, who would you want to work with the most? Who would be the quintessential client—the one that represents the majority of the types of clients you want more of and the one that would be quick to refer you to others? Who has the biggest problem you could help solve?” 

It only took Madalena a few seconds to decide on Jules, the 36 year old product strategist who wants to help her company get into untapped markets. She had worked with a client similar to the one we had outlined and would love more of that type client. Not only that, she realized that Jules had a much larger problem that her company could solve than the other two clients. 

Bingo! We found the golden nugget. Not only did Madalena want to work with this client, she could help this type of client solve a massive problem. 

By knowing who the business was now talking to, we could gear the branding towards attracting clients like Jules. And to my delight, the brand messaging and aesthetic fell easily into place after that. 

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That first experience showed me that I wouldn’t need to do multiple ideal client profiles in the future to get great results in branding. Sure, there’s a place for multiple personas, especially in marketing, but I decided then that my brand strategy process would only include one ideal client.

My mission is clarity. In most everything I do, I aim to reduce stalling due to the burden of overwhelm. We have too much information thrown at us, with way too many options, on a daily basis. And if I’m able to streamline the process by choosing the best, most ideal client versus trying to attract 3 at a time, then I’ve accomplished my mission. 

There can only be one ideal anyway. 

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See the entire client profile.

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About the author:

Melinda Livsey is a brand strategist, designer, and educator based in sunny Southern California. She’s the founder of Marks and Maker, co-founder of Pre-lance, and co-host on the Futur. Find her hanging out on Instagram and say hello!