How To Create a Brand Muse For Your Startup
Updated: May 29
If you’ve ever had the privilege of watching the late, great Kobe Bryant play basketball—you were able to witness an absolute genius on the court and one of the greatest NBA players of all time perform his craft.
Yet as brilliant as Kobe was on the basketball court—if you’re a basketball fan, you didn’t have to look too closely to see that a lot of Kobe’s game resembled that of another NBA great—Michael Jordan's. That's because Jordan was one of Kobe's muses.
“To be able to sit at the same lunch table with my muses, Michael, Magic. I wanted to be able to sit down at the same table with them and belong there.” Said Bryant in his documentary fortuitously titled, Kobe Bryant’s Muse.
Not just Kobe, many of your favorite brands also use muses to help them to not only become great, but also to maintain their greatness—just in a different sense. In fact, if you want to truly strong build a strong brand that'll withstand the test of time—one of the best ways to start is by creating a brand muse.
What exactly is a brand muse?
Most business owners understand the importance of selecting and attracting a particular type of customer (aka target audience). But in order to appeal to that type of customer—the most successful brands often utilize a brand muse that helps their brand relate to and attract their target audience.
A brand muse is a clearly defined consumer segment that a brand identifies and is built around appealing to. To clarify, a brand muse is the personification of a target audience. A character, for which everything that a brand does—is congruent with their interests and approval.
The importance of your startup having a brand muse
I know it may seem like a fairly simple process, but consistently appealing to a particular audience isn't as easy as it may seem for brands. And over time, especially as more people begin working at your startup—it’s very easy to lose focus as far as which type of image your brand wants to present to not just the public—but specifically to your target audience.
That’s why even Taco Bell, an enormous brand that you’d probably think aims to appeal to everyone—has their own brand muse to help maintain consistency and serve as a compass for their marketing approaches.
“Taco Bell’s muse is a 25-year-old male." Writes Yum! Brands CMO, Ken Muench, and former Yum! Brands CEO, Greg Creed, in their book R.E.D. Marketing. "Our brand is built around this character and we look at everything we do in the lens of ‘What would our muse think?’”
The reason why not just your brand, but every brand, should have a brand muse—is because it gives brands a clear marketing direction. The objective isn't to target your brand muse with your marketing materials—but to ensure that everything your brand does is in agreement specifically with how your brand muse views the world.
In other words, if something wouldn't meet the approval of your brand muse—your brand should never do it.
How to create your brand muse
Ask anyone you know that is currently single to describe their perfect mate and they’ll probably have no problem describing: Exactly what their perfect partner would look like. Their age. Which type of career they’d have. How much money that person would make a year. What they’re passionate about. And what they enjoy doing in their spare time.
However, if you were to follow-up and ask that same person just why their perfect mate would choose them over all the other options they’d likely have—their reply probably wouldn’t be as coherent.
That’s one of the things that makes having a brand muse so rewarding. It not only personifies your brand's ideal customer—it helps keep your brand focused on which qualities and benefits that your brand would need to have in order to attract that type of customer.
But enough of telling you just why your brand needs a muse. Here’s how to create one:
First, think of the type of person that would be most ideal for your brand to serve. Now, assign that person an age, gender, and name.
Next, write down a list of things that would be culturally relevant and of interest to this person.
Then, write down a list of things that would be socially unacceptable or embarrassing to this person and their peer group.
Lastly, write down one special thing that your brand could provide this person in a way that no other brand is currently doing that would make their lives better either socially, financially, or emotionally.
Congratulations! If you’ve done all of the above—you have now created your brand muse. From this moment on, everything that your brand does—should revolve around receiving the approval of your brand muse. Remember, you should only have one brand muse. Which makes it that much easier to keep them top of mind in all of your startup's marketing meetings.
By putting an emphasis on pleasing your brand muse—your brand will now be much more likely to consistently attract, retain, and relate to your target audience.
If you’d like more help with creating your brand muse and marketing to your target audience, contact us to become a Decryption client and together—we’ll help your startup advance.