Who Is Your Customer (And What Are Their Problems)?

We’re all in business to sell what we do.

It goes without saying that we need to know certain things about our target customer.

This fits perfectly with a central design principle, user-centred design. By understanding the end customer we can design communications and marketing that fulfils their needs. Branding that reassures and appeals and a website that answers their questions and makes it easy for them to reach a decision.

How Deep To Go?

There are plenty of approaches to this. Some go very detailed, creating various customer personas.

In my experience, if the core of your brand offer and quality of communication is solid getting bogged down in what Jane might favour over Jill is not time well spent.

Instead, I prefer to focus on the fundamental issues. We can always go into more detail later.

A Real Example

So, what do we need to know?

There are always going to be general and specific features. Let’s look at the headings in relation to my business, Recreate Design.

Company Status:

  • Small business.
  • Established, trading at least 3 years.
  • Average turnover range £250,000 – 1,500,000.
  • Founder/Owner-managed (decision maker)!


  • Professional Service.
  • Retail.


  • Average sale value = £1000+ (there can be a lot of variation here)!
  • Service-focussed (as opposed to price).


  • South-East England/London.
  • UK.


  • In it for the long-term. Long-term investment in their business, looking for long-term relationships with customers.
  • They think big.
  • They like to collaborate.
  • Value high-quality design and production.

Branding Status:

  • Have some branding in place.
  • Recognise the value of presenting well and differentiating themselves from their competitors.
  • They understand branding is more than a logo (but might not be sure what the more than is)
  • They want consistent and effective marketing.

Mindset and Pain Points:

They are at a crossroad. The business is, or has been, successful and something about their brand relationship with the customer – perception, reputation, understanding – is blocking profit growth.

Specific pain points (problems or goals):

  • They just aren’t differentiated enough.
  • Their brand has changed, but their branding hasn’t kept pace.
  • There is customer confusion with regards to what they sell, their service or something else to do with how they do business.
  • They are aware of image issues or misconception.
  • The most popular – they feel that they are underselling and want to move to a more premium position and charge more.
  • They are diversifying and need to clearly communicate this.
  • New competitors have entered the market and are shaking things up.

What next?

That’s a lot to start working with!

Coming down the list we have answers to some pretty generic questions around company make-up, turnover etc. Importantly, we’ve identified the decision maker.

The end gets more interesting when we get specific. Establishing your customer’s mindset and identifying the pain points or, as designers describe them, problems. These problems merit further investigation. In the case of Recreate Design, like so many other businesses, my customer problems are actually my customer’s customer’s problems! Working these out and offering solutions will make your branding and marketing much more effective!