You’ve probably heard the marketing advice along the lines of, “Brands must become persons.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean turning your brand into an actual person or assigning a mascot to represent your company. Instead, it points to the importance of connecting with your audience and becoming an important part of their lives.
We know that people connect with other people, and this can be a challenge for a brand. After all, how does one connect with their customers in the same way that another person can?
In this post, we’ll take a look at why you ought to be humanizing your brand if you want to see better results on your marketing campaigns. And later, we’ll take a look at actual easy steps you can implement today to humanize your brand and marketing.
Table of Contents
Why humanize your brand?
You can truly live out your brand story
A brand story is at its core the story you tell audiences about how your company came to be and what that means for people like them. People are drawn to stories, and every story needs characters – and your brand is the main protagonist in yours.
When you humanize your brand, you have the opportunity to tell your brand story in more engaging, relatable ways. And when you do that, customers can connect with you, and your brand becomes a bigger part of their lives.
Later, we’ll see some steps you can take to do just that.
The easiest way to connect audiences to your brand story is by connecting them to real people that are a part of your brand.
You can engage your team like never before
Your team might not always admit it, but they love being recognized. And as you implement the steps to humanize your brand, you can show off, recognize, and engage your team in ways that make them a critical part of your brand’s success story – seen especially in the eyes of your customers.
You can increase customer loyalty and sales
The ultimate goal of marketing is to increase sales. And data shows that when a brand truly connects with its audience, 57% of audiences are more likely to purchase more from the said brand while 76% will choose to purchase from this brand over a competitor.
What does this tell us? Humanizing your brand isn’t just a feel-good tactic. It works.
11 Steps to Humanize Your Brand and Marketing Campaigns
Ready to connect to your audience better? Here are 11 steps you can implement as early as today to humanize your digital marketing campaigns.
Start from inside your company
We’ve all heard it from Simon Sinek: Start with why.
To start humanizing your brand means getting everyone in your company on board this shift. Make sure everybody, not just your marketing and sales team, is familiar with your brand’s mission and your buyer personas so you always create customer-first services.
It’s easier to humanize your brand in the eyes of your customers when you’re operating from a place that is actually about its people, both in and out of the company.
Show off your team
You can show customers just who is behind your company when you show off real-life photos of your team. Many companies choose to do this through a dedicated page on their websites, but there are other ways you can implement this.
Tawk.to has a creative way of showing off their employees using caricature instead of actual photos.
Consider using your team as the subject of social media posts. Post interviews with your team members or even have regular Meet The Team-themed posts one day a week.
People love seeing the faces behind their favorite brands, and there are endless ways you can show off your team online.
Starbucks has a dedicated account that puts the spotlight on its “partners” aka employees.
Make a stand
Customers are more than simply two-dimensional people. Outside of their buying and media habits, they have strong opinions about real-life issues and care deeply about causes. Your brand can stand behind your customers’ support for said causes, letting you connect with audiences in more meaningful ways.
An example of a brand making an important stand leading to great results is when hosting company GreenGeeks took its name to the next level and branded itself as a green, eco-friendly brand.
Because of this shift, many customers have lauded GreenGeeks for the move, noting that their service, speed, and performance was not hindered in the slightest even when they made the eco-friendly stand.
GreenGeeks communicates their eco-initiatives clearly on their site, instantly connecting with customers who care about their environmental footprint.
Give audiences a peek behind-the-scenes
People love being in the know of exclusive news and updates. And it’s easy to delight your social media followers or email list subscribers by giving them first access to new projects and updates.
Show your customers what you’re currently working on. This doesn’t only build up hype, but doing this also tells them they’re important enough for their favorite brands to give them updates about projects, initiatives, and updates.
This is why Kickstarter campaigns often receive great success: crowdfunding campaigns rely nearly entirely on updating backers about new developments about their product or their operations. Brands are able to connect with their customers in newer, more personal ways.
Empower employees as brand ambassadors
70% of consumers say they feel more connected to a brand when they see the CEO being active on social media. It was also found that leads generated from employee advocacy campaigns were 7 times more likely to convert than any other leads.
We already know that people are more likely to trust other people – and your employees can provide glimpses into a company’s products or strengths that people outside your organization just cannot provide.
To turn employees into brand ambassadors, you’ll want to create an employee advocacy strategy that guarantees organic, high-value engagement from your employees.
Start an online community
Engage with your customers like never before in a dedicated online group. Many brands have created their own moderated Facebook groups for fans to interact and connect.
Within these groups, your customers are able to interact with your employees directly, share new ideas and recommendations, and even get instant access to customer support by engaging on the page.
Be sure to keep these groups active and interesting by assigning moderators to start weekly or daily conversations. You can even reward the most engaged members by inviting them to be volunteer moderators to your group – consider it yet another way to engage customers in more meaningful ways.
HBO created an official Big Little Lies group for fans to talk about their favorite episodes, share theories, and even connect with other fans.
Personalize, personalize, personalize
Add a personalized touch to your marketing efforts using the automation tools you already have. For example, be sure to use customers’ first names in your email campaigns and use relevant segmentation rules so you only get to send targeted and highly-specific content that will resonate with different consumer groups.
You should also map out different content and campaigns based on where your customer is on their journey with your brand. So if a customer is new to your brand and has signed up to your email list, you might want to send them through a nurture series that helps them get to know more about your products and services before, say, trying to sell them something right away.
This also applies to different campaigns. You don’t want to send a cart abandonment email to someone who hasn’t added anything to their cart, for example.
There are several different touchpoints you can personalize for your audience completely on autopilot, so be sure to make the most out of your marketing automation tools.
Give a physical gift
If your company can afford it, send a physical gift to new customers in the mail. This can be something as simple as a postcard or as elaborate as a welcome gift pack.
Opt to send one with each new purchase or perhaps as part of a limited time offer. You can also send mail during holidays or birthdays.
Interact with audiences online
Customers love when their favorite brands interact with them on social media, and this step is easy if you already have a dedicated social media team. If a customer tags you in an Instagram post, give that post a Like and leave a sincere comment while you’re at it.
You can also curate user-generated posts to show that you’re listening and seeing what people tag you in. Several brands on Instagram even create branded hashtags for their followers to use for a chance to get featured.
It takes no time at all to interact with people who are tagging, mentioning and messaging your brand, but it has a huge payoff in the long run.
Media publication Refinery29 curates user-generated content on their feed using their #R29regram hashtag
Show faces in your marketing efforts
One effective yet simple way to humanize your brand is using actual faces in your marketing efforts and brand collateral. An easy place would be to sprinkle photos of people across your website or services page.
Many brands opt to use faces of people who represent their ideal market – for example, if an American business had a service specific to the Asian immigrant community, then they’d do best to use photos of Asian immigrants to connect with their audiences right away.
Other areas where you can display some friendly faces include author photos in blog posts. If your blog accepts guest contributors, be sure to ask for professional photos you can use.
Optionally, you can include a photo of your CEO or CMO, or customer support head when sending email newsletters. Needless to say, when you decide to do this, it’s crucial to craft those newsletters in first-person. For that added personal touch, sign off your newsletters with a digital signature.
Finally, feature your staff on social media posts. People can connect with faces on social media, and it’s been found that posts on Instagram that contain faces perform 32% better than those without – meaning they get more Likes and are likely to get more customers.
Admit your mistakes the right way
Another thing you can do to humanize your brand? Doing the human thing and admitting mistakes if they ever arise.
Brands are run by people, and you’re bound to run into setbacks or make errors along the way. And while you ought to be transparent and admit your mistakes, there’s a right way to do so.
For example, we can learn from the 2011 event when the PlayStation Network was hacked and the personal data of up to 77 million users was exposed and made vulnerable. While the scandal was huge, media reports may have blown the issue out of proportion by claiming that passwords were unencrypted – an issue Sony could have avoided completely had it been clear about the details of the hacking from the get-go.
Sony, later on, would clarify the issue on their blog, saying:
“While the passwords that were stored were not ‘encrypted,’ they were transformed using a cryptographic hash function. There is a difference between these two types of security measures which is why we said the passwords had not been encrypted. But I want to be very clear that the passwords were not stored in our database in cleartext form.”
What we can learn from this is that brands ought to be very clear and punctual in moments of mistakes or shortcomings, leaving no room for speculation or media fallout – which can be its own PR nightmare.
Your Next Steps
If you’re ready to take your branding and marketing efforts to the next level, it’s time to follow the age-old advice of humanizing your brand. Remember that these efforts are meant to help you connect and engage with your customers like never before, eventually boosting customer loyalty and sales along the way. Follow the steps above to add a more human touch to your marketing efforts.