With the advent of social media, a new era has opened up for brands and with it a plethora of challenges. Brands are now directly in touch and interacting one on one with their consumers. This is both, an opportunity and a complexity. Today companies have to step down from their ivory towers and don a much more human face to engage with their consumers. Humanizing a brand isn’t just a marketing strategy or a unique idea, but a basic requirement in the ever-evolving market scenario.
1. Have a brand DNA and persona in place
The first step to humanizing a brand is to imagine your brand as a human. Imagine your brand as a person and define his or her personality. What is your DNA? Is your brand serious? Fun? Responsible? How old is your brand? What’s the tone of voice and style of voice? How does it react to various situations? What are the values? The more clearly this is defined and educated across the company, the more cohesive and integrated the voice becomes. If the DNA is set in stone, then everything else follows easily. Remember consumers don’t buy products, they buy aspirations.
2. Create a content bucket
Instead of reacting on the fly on social media and across platforms, define what information defines your brand. What do you want to say? Avoid bombarding consumers with offers and discounts but information that is engaging. Define what your brand is speaking each quarter, what content will you share with your audience? what do you want to say? What does your brand believe in? What are you championing? Do you have a CSR program? What’s happening behind the scenes? What trends will interest the consumer? Set goals and targets, measure results; evaluate effectiveness regularly and always be prepared to recalibrate.
3. Know your audience
If you don’t know your consumer, you won’t be able to speak their language. Who are they? What do they do in their spare time? What mediums of communication do they use or follow? What engages them? Do your homework and study the trends, gather user research and keep your eyes and ears open. Intuitive understanding of the target audience will enable the brand to speak their language. If you are a brand attracting teenagers, you better know your demographic and their language and mindset before you connect with them or you risk coming across as a granddad at a beach party!
4. Be authentic and unique
A big no-no for brands is sounding rehearsed or robotic. Well-rehearsed cold communication will sound fake and backfire on the brand. To err is human, the same applies to your business too: It is alright to make mistakes. Owning up and sharing your weaknesses authentically allows consumers to connect with your brand. Apologize and make amends with complaints received immediately, share stories, little victories, and milestones so the audience can grow with you and take ownership providing an intimacy to develop between the two. Avoid automated messages and ready birthday wishes. A brand that’s humanized will sound unique, connect and engage allowing the consumer to become evangelists.
5. Connect emotionally
Brands that tug at the consumer’s heart, make them smile, laugh, think, act, cry, get goosebumps or inspire their audience; instilling a deep sense of long-term loyalty between the two. Vitality is linked to emotional connects and people love to share what they liked and connected emotionally with. Humour always connects and engages. Stay politically correct unless the brand persona is otherwise. Finding common interests with your consumers based on your product category works. Continue this connection offline too, by having the brand support causes, sponsor relevant events that relate to the brand.