Brands that want to succeed in this increasingly ‘always on’ social media-driven world are advised to start showing more of their human side and stop hiding behind a faceless corporate entity. By that we mean you need to consider changing your marketing focus from ‘what’ your brand is to ‘who’ it is.
Customers are increasingly sceptical of ‘faceless entities’ and ‘automated response’ companies which means that brands need to work much harder to authentically interact with their target audience, actively participate in conversations, respond to their customers needs and nurture those relationships if they want to be viewed as an honest company which is sensitive to their customers needs and the world at large.
Brands that engage in charity work, social contribution or form their own fund-raising endeavours are nearly always looked on a lot more favourably too. Include a little humour in the mix, even if you’re poking fun at yourselves, and you are starting to create a more humanized brand.
Patagonia Displays Honesty
The global outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia are honest in their dealings with customers by showing the real effects that the manufacturing of their clothes and products has on the environment and communities. The environment matters to them and their target audiences. It’s at the heart of what their brand stands for.
They’d like to have a lower or neutral carbon footprint, but viable manufacturing costs or processes don’t always enable them to have as low a carbon footprint as they would like. By being honest with their customers via the Footprint Chronicles section of their website the message is: “We’re not great but we’re working on it.” This ensures they remain true to their brand promise and avoids any future negative press ‘revelations’ as the company has already publicly declared their record isn’t what it they’d like it to be – yet!
TOMS’ Kindness Builds Customer Communities
A brand which has received huge publicity and goodwill towards it due to a reputation for being ‘kind’ is the company TOMS. The trendy outfit is seen as mixing commerce with charity due to the fact that for every pair of shoes sold a second pair is given, free of charge by the company, to a child living in poverty. Not only that but the brand has now declared that for every pair of glasses they sell they will help restore eyesight to a needy child.
The fact TOMS has a massive social networking community (nearly 2 million friends on Facebook alone) and that many of these fans have become active brand ambassadors, shows that a company which is perceived as kind through carrying out charitable works (and, crucially, knowing how to promote these works) can be very profitable too.
The more good works TOMS carries out, the more their community loves them and feels inspired to help and promote them even further. An example of how they promote their good works is this very-watchable video which was recently uploaded to the company’s Facebook page.
Make Customers Laugh and They’ll Be Positively Predisposed towards Your Brand
Everyone loves an endearing joker, don’t they? Well, if the joker is funny they do. Brands such as YouTube, Honda and Proctor & Gamble certainly managed to tickle a few when they each released April Fool’s videos this year.
YouTube announcing they were closing for a break (of ten years) and running a final contest at the same time was particularly ingenious and even a bit believable.
Honda’s in car hair cutting machine HondaHAIR was witty and er, believable!
However many thought Proctor & Gamble with their bacon mouthwash (guaranteed to kill 99.9 per cent of all germs) had lost it. The one thing all three brands did have in common however, was that their spoofs were very funny and made thousands of consumers warm to the brands.
Humour works for brands because sharing a laugh is a ‘naturally human way’ for building camaraderie with customers. And it works online too! There’s so many ways to make your customers laugh online – through uploading photographs on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, sharing amusing posts, and pointing them towards comedy YouTube videos.
Reveal the Humans Behind Your Brand
Another way to humanize your brand is to show the real ‘humans’ – your staff, whether that’s congratulating them for running a half marathon by uploading their photo onto the company Facebook page or congratulating them for a significant achievement at work.
It could also include sharing a photo of them modelling or demonstrating a new product on Twitter or talking about one of your new services on YouTube, provided of course this is congruent with your brand culture! Identify your staff as ‘real’ people and customers will begin to see your brand in more human terms rather than as just a faceless entity. It also means that if something does go wrong in the future they’re far more likely to be sympathetic and forgiving when they already ‘know’ the staff, the real people behind the brand.
In summary, brands that promote human qualities tend to be far more successful because customers will warm to them, they’re more ‘likeable’. Fundamentally whether your brand is B2B or B2C, people buy from people. It also makes sense that individuals are more likely to purchase from someone who is ‘just like them’, such as sharing the same sense of humour or has similar charitable inclinations than a stranger (a faceless corporation) that they don’t know or really care about.
• What are you doing within your brand strategy to ‘humanize’ your brand and make it more attractive, referable and trustworthy for your target audience?
• Is your brand contributing to society, doing good work that you’re currently not communicating to your customers?
• If your brand were a person how would you describe their qualities? Now consider how you could amplify those qualities in your brand strategy to make it more human and attractive to your target audience.