Business is built on providing the products and services that people need. So why do so many create marketing, branding, and content as if their customers are robots? We’ve all seen it, the stale tag lines, monotonous blogs filled with marketing links, and websites without a human face in sight. But customers crave information that is relevant, engaging, that helps them to move forward.
Imagine your business is a person having a conversation with someone over a drink. Is it going to talk endlessly about what it can do, how it got to where it is, why it’s great at what it does and then try to sell you some things from its pockets… or does this sound like someone is stuck on a terrible date with a narcissist? This is how customers judge your business.
In an age where people increasingly identify with brands that have local, community and social responsibility links, those self-important tactics are just no longer going to cut it. A recent UK study shows that 42% of people distrust brands because they feel they represent the establishment.
They believe they have too much power, are remote and are unreachable. PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey tells the same story, with people ranking ‘trust in brand’ as one of the top three things that most influences their decision as to who to buy from.
So, what can you do to ensure you and your business connect with your customer base on a deeper level? Here are 6 of the most effective ways to humanize your brand and start building those genuine relationships today.
Spark Conversations on Social Media
Where businesses used to use social media channels to talk only about themselves and their products, many are wising up to the importance of investing in related content. This is content that is not directly about your business or its products and services, but about wider issues in your industry.
For example, if your business provides financial services, you could produce and promote content about micro-loans in developing nations. If you sell language training packages, you could discuss key moments in a culture’s history. If you’re an illustrator, talk about artists you admire from the past and present. Not only does this practice provide content that your followers will be interested in reading, it also shows that you care about spreading knowledge within your industry and have a genuine passion for your product and field.
Decide on a Brand Personality and Stay True to It
Managing your content and maintaining a consistent brand personality can be hard work. Making sure your character resonates across all your platforms requires good design built on a well-thought-out concept.
If you think of your company as a person, what kind of person would it be? Is it formal and serious, or fun and jokey? Is it friendly, authoritative, or both? Once you’ve imagined a profile for your business’s character, you can start being ‘on brand’ across all of your platforms.
A good place to start is with your website since most of your other media will lead people back there. Choosing a good website builder, like this one, makes producing a design that reflects who you are all the more simple. Consider colors and graphics that suit your brand’s personality. Once you have this right, the content that you put into it will feel natural and personal, adding to its human quality.
Share User-Generated Content
If your main purpose in humanizing your brand is to interact more with your customer base, then there is no better way to do that than to share their content.
While this is not something that works well for every business, it can be an invaluable tool for most. If you sell products for ardent travellers, sharing images and stories of their adventures will not only boost their trust in your company but also inspire your other followers to get involved.
The more your customers feel comfortable sending you content of how they are putting your products and services to use, the more respect you will generate among their networks.
De-sanitize Your ‘About’ Page
The ‘About’ page of a company’s website can be so dry you could have sworn you’d stumbled into a desert. People migrate to this often overlooked web page to understand four key things: who you are, what you do, how you got there and what you believe in.
It’s the last of the four that is often neglected. It’s all well and good talking up your many qualifications, professional accolades and all of those times you were promoted in previous jobs, but people aren’t going to connect with your brand because of your CV. Consumers increasingly prefer to buy from brands that reflect their own personal values.
Your ‘About’ page should contain the human story of your business. Not just your successes, but your failures and struggles. People connect to others more when they can see their faults and shared pain acts as a kind of ‘social glue’ that promotes solidarity and togetherness. Avoid discussing your promotions and instead discuss the events in your life that motivated you to become the type of business that you are.
Do you invest in local people because you grew up in the community in which you operate? Were you inspired to run a carbon-neutral operation after that month you spent watching the sea lapping at people’s houses in some beautiful South Pacific Island nation? These are the stories your customers want to hear.
Share Some Content Just for Fun
Ever heard someone say the quickest way to make a good impression is to make someone laugh? A surprising number of studies support the idea that people build social bonds through laughter. Making someone chuckle triggers a release of endorphins in the brain that instantly endears them to the joke-maker, and this is true whether that is a person or an entity like a company.
Using humor well on social media can have a big impact, but there is a fine balance between a bit of light fun and being the catalyst for a mass-cringe. No one likes that person who tries really hard to be funny all of the time.
If you’re sharing content for fun, make sure you actually enjoy it yourself and that it doesn’t serve a more cynical purpose. If you share something humorous for click-bait or as a thinly-veiled marketing ploy, you’ll have undone all of the hard work you’ve been putting in to coming across as a real person.
Talk Up Your Employees
Behind most brands, there are hard-working staff putting in the hours to make everything work. And they can be, not only one of your most important resources, but the best demonstration of your brand’s humanity. After all, employees are people.
One way you can put a face on your business is to showcase your employees through your content: in blogs, on your website and across your social media channels. Have photos of your office interactions on Instagram, announce thank yous and congratulation messages for your employees on your Facebook page and interact with your staff on Twitter.
Your employees are bound to have colorful stories of how they reached you, or of other aspects of their lives, so share them. Run a regular ‘A story shared’ feature on different staff members, where they get to describe themselves and their backgrounds. And not just about their work for you, but for the sake of the story alone.
Demonstrate that your brand is driven by dynamic people and your customers will find your business all the more relatable.
Spending some time humanizing your brand is one of the most powerful marketing actions you could take in 2019. It has the power to permanently alter the way your customers feel about the transactions between you. Instead of feeling that they are giving you something, you’ll share in a two-way relationship, one that avoids that feeling of being exploited or tricked, and instead feels like a mutual partnership. It’s these positive social experiences that will keep your customers returning for more and help your business grow.
Over to You
What are some ways you humanize your brand?