With the amount of content out in the world, consumers are constantly seeking ways to filter hearing messages that align with their own beliefs and interests. Being relatable and people-first is a key component that brands can use to break through that filter. The survival of a brand now depends on how authentically it is marketed—particularly humanizing the brand. Below are five ways brands can humanize themselves in order to create meaningful, long-lasting connections.
You are not a robot (I’m assuming) and neither is your audience. Brands need to showcase that there is an actual human on the other side of their screens and accounts instead of an automated respondent. With Covid-19, human interaction has become more desired than ever before. In fact, 71% of people say they expect personal interactions from companies, showing that consumers want to have as much of a real-life interaction as possible.
Have a set plan on how the brand will respond to comments and reviews—whether positive or negative—in a way that is personal. Using the same pre-typed message every time creates the impression that you do not value what consumers have to say. Ask audiences questions and utilize resources like polls, which encourage feedback. By implementing these practices, consumers will gain and retain trust in the brand, which can be key down the line.
Injecting humor into your branding can be a game changer. Ryan Reynolds’ approach is a great example. His production agency, Maximum Effort, applies a style of advertising that takes seemingly mundane topics and uses humor to enhance it to an entertaining, must-see ad. In a 2021 survey, humor was found to be the most appealing type of brand messaging by 57% of respondents. It creates an upbeat mindset around your brand and instills a memory in consumers that allows them to remember you in a positive way. Often, brands take creative charge with their own products and clients but forget about themselves. Humor is a way that brands can showcase their personality in a simple, yet creative way.
Try using humor in social media posts through images, videos, memes, and more. Keep up with current trends and make them your own while also remaining mindful of your audience and what messages will resonate.
Another way to humanize a brand is to show the humans themselves. By giving your audience a look into your world, the corporate persona is removed. With consent, spotlight employees to showcase their involvement with different projects at various stages, sharing their thought processes and the work that went into launching it. With platforms like TikTok and Instagram, it is easy to create “Day in the Life” videos that depict company culture and highlight employees for more than just their roles, but for who they are as people. For example, Mars Inc. uses a TikTok account called @lifeatmars_na to showcase the day-to-day, including office tours, job duties, the recruiting process, and teams who work for their various sub-brands.
By humanizing employees and executives, you humanize your brand.
As Hannah Montana once said, “Nobody’s Perfect,” and that applies to brands as well. While it is essential to emphasize success stories and incredible work, it is almost just as important to share your struggles. A study known as the Braze Brand Humanity Index explores what attributes consumers believe make a brand feel human. This study found that 33% of brand humanity stems from activating emotions, and vulnerability does just that.
Perhaps one of the most emotionally vulnerable brands out there is Patagonia. Patagonia consistently reviews its environmental footprint, noting what needs improvements and what is being done to rectify the situation. An area in which the company is extremely outspoken about is its past faults with inorganic cotton and the strides that were taken to switch to organic. By being open and clear about a struggle they faced, Patagonia set a standard for other brands to follow. Share times when your organization has struggled to find a solution and how you found success. Or, if you did not reach the intended goal, share how you are learning and growing from the experience.
All members of your organization must be on board with your brand strategy and voice. Everybody has a unique voice and way of speaking and it rarely falters. Just like millennials use many abbreviations like “BTW,” “IDK,” and “LOL” when they speak, brands should have a consistent voice, too. Once you find a voice that works for your brand, stick to it. If you are inconsistent with your voice, consumers will see straight through it. It is hard to bounce back from sounding fake and inauthentic.
Furthermore, consistency can be comforting. Take a look at Coca-Cola. You know that no matter where you are in the world, you will be able to find the bright red can and flavor you love. Similar to a reliable friend, consistency creates reliability in a brand and builds customer loyalty.
These are just a few of many ways to humanize your brand. It’s not one size fits all, and what works for some may not work for others. Ultimately, it comes down to staying true to the brand pillars. Don’t try to conform to competitors. Don’t subscribe to values that aren’t consistent with your messaging. Instead, highlight what makes the brand unique, relatable, and genuine, because that will connect with your audience in the immediate and make an impression that resonates in the long-term.
About Eliza Burnett
Eliza is entering her senior year at the University of Dayton where she is majoring in Marketing and minoring in International Studies. As a Global Marketing Intern, Eliza has driven brand awareness through analytics, social media, thought leadership, and more. Eliza is a Prosci Change Management Practitioner and enters opportunities with an open mind and creative solutions to generate success.