It’s a common saying in business circles, but it’s the plain truth: People do business with people they know, like and trust.
You wouldn’t want to hand over your money to a total stranger, a robot, or some faceless organization, would you?
Of course not!
But that’s exactly how most brands act – distant, mechanical, and without a clear identity. Their brand communication is clinical. They say all the right things. They are prim and proper. But the result comes in trickles. Maybe dries up after a while.
The brand consistently struggles to connect with their target audience or build any meaningful relationship with them.
Well, everything is the problem.
As long as your brand is not ‘human’ enough and communications are not natural, people will find it hard to like, engage, and connect with it. And that also means they’re less likely to do business with you.
Although your business is a corporate entity, it needs to consciously take on a distinct and likable personality with brand characters, voice, and tone that resonates with the target market. In other words, to genuinely connect with your target audience and influence their buying behavior, it’s important you learn how to ‘humanize’ your brand.
Remember, people, do business with people. They want to hear the message of a person, not a company.
Build relationships. Act like a human
In a rapidly changing world, communication is always evolving. So should you to thrive with your business. To connect at a deeper and meaningful level with your target audience, your brand needs to build relationships with them and act like a ‘person.’ And that means rethinking your communication tools and channels.
It’s time to start shifting focus from things like email blasts and traditional advertising that barely trigger or give room for conversations.
Make your brand feel less like a corporate engine to your demographics and more like a human that wants to build a relationship with them and values their feedback.
Relationships are the lifeblood of the dynamic social network technology and the template on which they’re modeled. Never lose sight of that fact as you try to engage with your current and prospective customers.
Converse, interact, connect, engage and build relationships with your target audience as a human being or group of humans (rather than just a Twitter handle or brand name), and they’ll stay loyal to your brand, no matter how the social landscape changes.
Put a face to your brand
People relate to people. Customers and prospects will value and trust your business better if they can relate it with real people they can value and trust.
Although it is often undervalued, this is perhaps the most interesting part of your brand. Adding a team’s page to your website shows the human side of your brand and gives the visitor an idea of the people behind the brand name and logo and what to expect when they buy from you.
Here are some benefits of putting a face to your brand:
- It removes doubt about the business management and shows prospects the faces behind the corporate brand.
- It stands your brand out from rivals who don’t have a face or faces associated with their brand image.
- It gives more authenticity to your brand story when an actual person associated with your company tells it.
Show your funny side
Spicing up your content with humor humanizes your brand. Not everything about your business has to be business-y. Occasionally lighten up with your brand messaging and use some humor. Find the fun part of a story to get your readers or viewers smiling and thus connect better with them.
For example, rather than showing off your staff as a bunch of serious, stiff-faced corporates on your team page, think about presenting an image of a company of smart, relaxed, and happy individuals with creative shots of your staff members showing their funny and relatable sides.
Atlassian’s ‘Meet the Team’ offers a great example of how to humanize your brand and connect better with your target customers. They even created personal bobbleheads for their leadership team. When you click on a figure, it brings up a more professional headshot with a brief bio and links to their social accounts.
Wistia is another beautiful example to check out. Like you did in your high school yearbook, each team member is posed facing the right side of the screen. However, when you hover over each person, they change to a variety of funny poses showing their personality.
How cool is that?
Everyone loves a little humor sometimes. It’s a simple and effective way to grab attention and sustain interest. But make sure the humor is not just fun, but also provide useful information and control. Don’t offend people with your humor.
Speak in your customers’ language
There’s a certain humdrum feel to corporate writing. It typically lacks excitement or variety. And it’s in large part, boring. If there’s a shortcut to humanizing your brand, it’s ditching the officialese and mumbo jumbo style of conventional brand-speak for a simple, crisp, and free-flowing language your customers love.
Use words, tone, and rhythm your audience can easily understand. Talk to them like you would to a pal. This is perhaps the most important tip on humanizing your brand.
When writing copy, keep in mind you want to talk to a friend or someone close to you who’s interested in buying your product or engaging your service. Make that image your buyer persona, so your content and style become clearer.
Tell brand stories, don’t just sell products
Stories have a unique ability to build connections and influence social behavior.
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll emphasize it that people connect with people, not businesses. Humanizing your brand is all about making your audience see your business as a likable, relatable person, not really as a business.
Make your business take up a personality that has a lighter side to it. A lighter side that tells brand stories (both successes and failures) that pique readers’ interest.
Video content is one of the most effective ways to capture and retain people’s attention. Use this to your advantage in your brand content.
Add short, interesting, and relevant videos to your content, whether on your website’s ‘About Us’ page, your social media posts, or your TV advertisements. Put them anywhere you have your brand name and logo to complement whatever message you’re sending out.
Take a stand
In today’s social media-driven world, no one’s sitting on the fence any longer. On prominent social issues like the environment, gender and equality, diversity, and acceptance, everyone’s taking a stand. Everyone which includes your target consumers. And they often are also interested in where you (as a brand) stand, and not just what you sell.
More and more buyers are becoming belief-driven. And they like to think their favorite brand share their views too on certain social issues and values that drive humanity.
Besides, there’s a humanizing effect that comes with taking a stand that your brand can gain from.
Just a few days after President Trump signed an order briefly closing America’s borders, Airbnb aired a video ad tagged “We Accept” in direct response to the decision.
It was one of the most popular and talked-about Super Bowl ads and also helped to enhance Airbnb’s wider brand positioning on the social issue of race and diversity.
However, let me make a quick note that while it’s important to share your brand’s personality with your audience to help you stand out, you should avoid getting too personal, whether, on your website, your brand’s social media handle or other channels of communication.
It’s best to stay off sensitive topics like politics and religions and also not engage in negative feedback. Doing so can harm your brand’s reputation and turn off your followers.
Have a plan
Humanizing your brand is no easy task and requires careful planning, just like you would do on any key business decision. You’ll need to set clear goals and objectives for both the short and the long term, as well as specific strategies and actions to help you meet them. In addition, set well-defined and reasonable KPIs to help you measure results.
Hire a skilled and dedicated social media manager or team
Brands that have a skilled and dedicated employee or team working closely together to build a likable personality for the company are more likely to do well with this goal. It’s important the social media manager or team are people with an open-minded, team worker, and engaging attitude.
They should be creative, passionate, problem-solvers, and able to inspire, organize, and build interesting conversations that form or strengthen the brand’s relationships with target customers and local communities, both online and offline.
Guest author: Kelvin Keshi is an experienced SEO writer and brand strategist who’s worked on a number of projects for clients in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. His passion and specialty lie in helping startups, small businesses and young professionals gain rich insights and get ahead of the competition. He’s the CEO of Media Inspired NG.