As social beings, we crave and thrive on interactions with other human beings. Nothing reflects this better than our shopping behavior.
Even with the rising popularity of eCommerce, many of us prefer to go to a store where we can interact with a real person. Without these human representatives, brands are just faceless, money-making entities, not worthy of our trust.
To overcome this trust deficit, marketers need to steer away from sale-oriented tactics to be more relatable, approachable, and genuine. In other words, they need to be more human.
What is brand humanization?
Every human is unique. We all differ in how we think and feel. We speak different languages, dress, and walk differently from others. We have different hopes and dreams, and beliefs. We enjoy doing certain things and wouldn’t be caught dead doing others.
When you want to humanize your brand, you need to start thinking of it as a human. Just like you make your audience persona to understand them better, you must also make a brand persona your audience can connect with easily.
Humanizing your brand, also known as brand anthropomorphism, involves assigning it certain personality traits and then determining how those traits are reflected in its actions.
Depending upon what your audience likes, your brand could be professional and no-nonsense or relaxed and playful. It could be sweet and empathetic or sarcastic and witty. It could be shy and understated or loud and over-the-top.
The personality you ascribe to your brand must be evoked in your marketing efforts. It should determine the look and feel of your logo, your website, your domain name, and also the colors, fonts, and design elements you use.
For example, when you pick a domain name for your website, you should go for a name that appeals to your audience and speaks to them. For example, if you are starting a tech business, you should go for a .tech domain extension. However, if you are setting up an eCommerce website, you can go for the .store domain extension.
Your brand’s personality should also reflect in the tone of your voice, whether you choose to be an authoritarian, a friendly expert, or the person next door.
4 great ways to humanize your brand
1. Tell your story
For people to relate to your brand, they need to see your true self, imperfections included. Yes, you need to highlight your expertise and the best features of your products to build credibility, but you also need to tell authentic stories to build deeper connections.
Real human stories are as much about struggles, failures, and poor decisions as they are about glory. They are as much about luck and serendipities as they are about hard work and dedication.
How did your business idea come about? Was it the result of a life-long passion or an accidental brainwave? What mistakes did you make along the way and what did you learn from them? How did you overcome some of your biggest challenges?
Every human goes through ups and downs and sharing the low-points of your journey shows people that you are not afraid to be vulnerable. Tell them stories in which they can find a bit of themselves, instead of portraying yourself as porcelain-perfect.
2. Involve your audience
Part of the human experience is feeling like we belong to a family, a professional team, or a community. Today, brands need to foster this sense of community among their customers if they want to be treated as more than businesses.
Getting customers involved in the exciting journey that your company is embarking upon will nurture the feeling of unity and strengthen your bond. This can be done through simple CTAs in your content. For instance, when you talk about your brand’s story, ask your customers to share similar experiences they may have had or how they deal with a particularly challenging situation in the comments section.
When you are expanding or recalibrating your business, reach out to loyal customers and ask for suggestions on ways you can improve. You can even send them early access to a new product or service you will be launching and ask them for an honest review.
You can use social media to connect with your audience through interactive posts. Interactive posts include live Q&As, polls, question posts, and online events.
To increase engagement, you need to encourage people to talk about their experiences with you and share their content on your account. For instance, if you are a hotel, you can ask guests to tag you in their pictures.
3. Take them behind the scenes
When it comes to the stars of your brand, your team members shine as bright as your products. Flaunt your rockstar team to the world and see how the audience responds to your brand.
● Use real pictures
Introducing your team with their pictures in the ‘About Us’ section of your company’s website allows people to literally put a face (or faces) to your brand name.
Sweet and simple genuinely smiling faces in a semi-professional setting are always safe options, but you can play around with expressions and ambiance depending upon what your company does and the brand image you want to portray.
● Write exciting bios
Don’t bore visitors with professional credentials and industry jargon. While customers want to know that there is a credible team behind the brand, they also want to get to know the real people, their views, interests, what brought them here, and their personal achievements such as winning a marathon or starting a successful YouTube channel.
● Showcase #worklife
What’s a typical day at your office like? Does work come to a standstill when someone brings their dog to work? How fun was that recent team lunch? Or that river-rafting trip you all took?
Give your audience a slice of life at work on your website and on social media with relevant hashtags to show how rewarding it is to be part of your brand.
4. Personalize your communication
We all want personal attention because it makes us feel more secure, understood, and appreciated. It’s human nature and that’s why it should be in the nature of your brand too.
Thanks to automation (quite the paradox, we know), personalized marketing is what we all expect. In fact, we are so used to brands getting to know us intimately nowadays, that simply addressing people with their first name in emails won’t create magic anymore.
Human interactions, even in professional settings, often go beyond transactional. If you want elements like trust and loyalty in your customer relationships, you must connect with them not as a business but as a friend, confidante, expert, and problem-solver.
You can use automation to see where your customers are in their user journey and tailor your communication accordingly. For instance, if they just created an account with you, send them a personalized “thank you” email along with recommendations based on their search history or even a guide to shopping on your website.
If they just finished making a purchase, thank them, ask for feedback and show them similar products they might be interested in. After their delivery, you can send them links to content that helps them use and maintain their purchase.
Once they have consistently made purchases from you, thank them for their support and ask them for a review.
The idea behind humanizing your brand is to move beyond the sales aspect and show people who you really are – dreams, strengths, passions, and imperfections included.
Be real, be honest, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. You need to treat your relationship with your customers just how you would treat your personal relationships and watch your brand grow from being just a brand to a living, breathing part of society.