In today’s ever-changing world where multi-billion-dollar acquisitions turning independent startups into conglomerates overnight seem to be a daily occurrence, public trust and relatability toward brands have never been harder to come by. While this trend isn’t new (Parks and Recreation observed it five years ago using a humorously hyperbolic approach), it’s no less alarming for consumers already wary of companies harvesting their personal info or being the victim of massive data breaches. Simply put, when it comes to building a personal relationship with consumers, brands are facing an uphill battle.
So how does one combat this volatile brand landscape in 2021? How do you cut through the prevailing attitude that all companies are just facades shielding a team of Ebenezer Scrooges who believe a single candle is enough to heat an entire room? The answer isn’t revolutionary, but instead centers around a rather simple and universal philosophical concept: authenticity.
As is the case in most personal relationships, authenticity is key. If you are going to have more than a surface-level relationship with anyone, whether it is a friend, significant other, family member, or colleague, authenticity is a foundational ingredient that fosters comfort. The same goes for a brand’s relationship with a consumer. With the multitude of customer access points brands have at their disposal, the content and marketing overload experienced daily across all mediums has forged consumers into lethal BS detectors. At the first whiff of being disingenuous, potential customers will see right through the smoke and mirrors and disappear, never to be seen again.
That’s why we’ve crafted three key overarching concepts not only to make your brand more personable and relatable but also to ensure a relational foundation that fosters continued growth.
1. Brand Transparency
Companies that are willing to share their personal journey, reflect on failures, and focus on overall empowerment in lieu of salesmanship position themselves to make meaningful connections with consumers. Being transparent with your brand not only shows you have nothing to hide but also conveys you are proud of what your company has built and want others to be part of that legacy.
Having a story that covers hardships and triumphs helps consumers make an instant connection, as these are common experiences all humans are familiar with. It’s important to note that a brand story is not created but told as is. The harder you try to manufacture a story, the easier it is to see right through and the less relatable you become. By owning who you are, where you come from, and where you’re going, you’re already making strides toward relatability by humanizing your brand.
From a content perspective, by focusing on empowerment over salesmanship, you’re making it clear there are no ulterior motives hiding in the shadows, waiting to pounce. You are providing content that genuinely informs and educates, empowering the consumer to make a decision based off of what you have provided without delivering a hard sale. This further addresses a consumer’s need to interact on a personal and open level, not with a faceless brand whose only concern is making a sale and moving on.
2. A Peek Behind the Curtain
While brand transparency provides a macro view of your brand’s mission, taking a peek behind the “every day” curtain offers a micro view of who and what are the beating heart of any company. Finding ways to elevate your brand beyond a logo or tagline is critical in opening the pathway for a consumer to make a personal connection.
Providing a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on inside the brand a consumer is interested and invested in creates another outlet to highlight the characteristics that make that brand human. What a day in the life is like inside an organization, what kind of culture is implemented and fostered, and what the efforts look like that make your brand a reality are all opportunities for consumers to form a tangible connection.
Specifically highlighting team members any chance you get on your website and via social media with personal stories and photographs is a sure-fire way to demonstrate there is a living and breathing team behind your brand. Providing this glimpse reinforces that a brand is nothing without the people who built it.
3. Personal Touch
At the core of humanizing a brand in a personable and relatable way lie the little things, the personal touches. Brands can show as much as they want in an attempt to humanize themselves, but without actively engaging on a personal level with consumers, they miss the key connective tissue that ties everything together.
Engaging with your audience on a personal level via customer feedback and across social media reinforces that your brand doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk. It demonstrates you are genuinely interested in consumers’ questions and satisfaction and will go above and beyond to ensure they know that. Taking this conversational approach is the gateway for engaging in a direct conversation and presents an invaluable opportunity to establish a personal connection.
At a tactic-specific level, targeted campaigns have shown time and again to resonate deeply with consumers. Nothing alienates a potential customer like receiving an ad or promo that doesn’t apply to them. Adding that personal touch of knowing who your customers are and what their interests look like immediately communicates that they aren’t viewed as some mass collective but instead as an individual whose wants and needs are valued.
Laying the Foundation
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to humanizing your brand. Bringing personal and relatable qualities to a non-sentient entity such as a brand is hard work requiring dedication and vigilance. But by applying this authentic approach to your brand identity, you’ll set your company up for long term success, engaging with consumers on a much deeper and more fulfilling level and ultimately creating a loyal and dedicated customer base for years to come.