It’s one thing to have a clear brand that people recognize. But if you want to create a brand that people know, like, and trust, it has to be both recognizable and relatable. In other words, you have to humanize it.
What Does it Mean to Humanize Your Brand?
The basic dictionary definition of humanize is to give something a human character. But when it comes to the idea of humanizing a brand, the goal is to make it feel like a friend. In other words, you want your brand to feel comfortable and trustworthy – as if the customer has known you for years. It’s less about predictability and more about familiarity. You want people to feel a visceral connection.
Why Humanize Your Brand?
Humanizing a brand takes a lot of intentional preparation and strategic execution. And depending on how you do it, the upfront financial cost can be pretty high. So the question is, why do it? And is it worth it?
For one-third of all customers, trust in a brand is a top reason for purchasing a specific product or shopping at a particular store. Contrary to popular belief, brand longevity is no longer the most important factor.
All you have to do is look at the summer of 2017 as an example. This was the year when Halo Top became the best-selling ice cream across U.S. grocery stores. After launching just five years prior, the “upstart” ice cream brand soared past longstanding leaders like Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s. How did this happen? Put simply, people felt connected to the brand. (And the sugary goodness inside their cardboard pints didn’t hurt.)
Now more than ever, people want to trust the brands they’re doing business with. And the number one way to cultivate trust is by making your brand familiar and relatable to the right customers. Humanization leads to relationships – and that’s where successful businesses are built.
How to Humanize Your Brand
Brand humanization takes time. However, there’s no better time to start than now. So here are a few suggestions that will help you progress toward your goal of being a more relatable and trustworthy brand.
1. Identify Your Core Values
You can’t humanize your brand if you don’t know who you are at a foundational level. Thus, the very first step is to identify your core values.
Your core values are the things that you believe in. They’re the “why” behind your company’s existence. When you strip everything else away, it’s what’s left.
When developing core values, picture your brand as a person and express them in terms of behaviors and traits. Core values can be single words or entire statements. The key is to make them very specific. Otherwise, they won’t do much good.
2. Establish Your Brand Voice
Every company has a brand voice (whether you intentionally architect it or not). It’s basically the personality and emotion of who you are in the form of written copy, design, and customer interactions.
As CoSchedule explains it, “It encompasses everything from the words and language you use, to the personality and image your marketing assets aim to invoke. It plays an important role in making sure your message cuts through the noise and makes a lasting impression on potential customers.”
Your brand voice guides everything you do. It ensures consistency and relatability with your target audience. If you’re unsure of where to begin, start with your core values. Figure out a way to exemplify these values in how you write, how you talk, and how you design marketing materials, packaging, websites, landing pages, etc.
3. Build a Realistic Social Media Strategy
Social media marketing plays an important role in establishing and scaling your brand. The problem is that most businesses approach it with the wrong expectations.
Over the years, people have been led to believe that the only way to win with social media is to create content that goes viral. And while it certainly helps to go viral, the reality is that 99 percent of brands will never create a viral piece of content – and that’s okay. The real key to social media is to be relatable.
As entrepreneur Dave Farber writes, “A successful social media strategy doesn’t require the wittiest, edgiest content; it requires a deep understanding of what customers are looking for and what their journeys look like.”
Stop trying to appeal to one million people and begin by appealing to one person. Once you find something that resonates with one member of your target audience, you can tweak it to appeal to 10, then 100, then 1,000. That’s how you win with social media.
4. Embrace the Power of Charitable Giving
People want to trust the brands they do business with. While there will always be customers that purchase something based on price, we’ve moved into a new marketplace where consumers value things like corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and generosity.
One way to connect with customers on a very personal level is to start and/or align your brand with some sort of charitable initiative. If you’re unsure of which direction to go or how to get started, there are actually charitable giving services that specialize in helping brands establish their own initiatives and programs. Consult with one and figure out an option that aligns with your brand.
5. Engage Your Entire Team
People want to see who is behind your brand. They want to know the people and faces. The problem is that most brands aren’t willing to pull back the curtain. And this is how you get cold, sterile websites with generic stock photos and lifeless copy.
If you want to bring your brand to life, engage your entire team. Show their pictures, tell their stories, and encourage them to become advocates of your brand on social media (and in everyday life). This amplifies your reach far more than if you were to try and keep everything airtight and controlled.
Hire good people, marinate them in your core values, and then trust your people to exemplify who you are. That’s the key to winning.
Ready, Set, Go!
Just like every person looks, sounds, and acts differently, every brand has its own flavor. So while we can’t humanize your brand for you, the hope is that this article has provided you with some useful insights to start moving in the right direction.