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People like to buy from people, not companies. That’s why an increasing number of marketers are focusing on humanizing their brands. When we say “humanizing,” we mean relating to customers people to people, not just brand to customer. What does this look like in action?
1. Don’t Talk Like A Thesaurus
First and foremost, use natural language. Forget the marketing jargon. Talk to your customers as you would to a friend, or in a business context, a colleague. This doesn’t mean being hokey or colloquial. It means instead of saying, “Our software supports seamless integration with your latest acquisitions and legacy systems,” you might say, “Whether your technology is old or new, everything will work together.”
2. Show Your Face
Let your customers see the real people behind your products. On your Facebook page, show your employees lounging in the break room or volunteering to pick up trash on Earth Day. On your website’s “about us” page, replace the LinkedIn-style bios in favor of more informal ones that show the real people behind the titles.
For example, on our Team Leaders page, you’ll find that president and CEO, Scott Sutton, and his wife are avid supporters of animal shelters; that project manager Alana Gaudelli has the best hair in the company, hands down; and that production coordinator George Taylor is a fan of classical music and has an extensive movie collection.
Remind customers that you are more than a building with administrative offices and sales outlets. Your company is made up of real people they can relate to.
3. Invest In Good Things… And Talk About Them
People like to feel good about the companies they buy from. One way to do that is to invest in, and talk about, positive initiatives that are meaningful to your customers. Think education, animal rescue, and micro-business. The shoe company TOMS does a great job with this. Sure, it sells shoes, but it has a broad array of programs for helping under-privileged communities around the world, too. Programs range from free shoes and eye care to promoting an end to gun violence, and it shares pictures and stories of the impact on real people.
Want to see how we do this at Burlington Press? Check out our Giving Back page.
What your company cares about and invests in beyond the sale tells your customers a lot about who you are. Be a company they want to invest in.
4. Tell Your Story
Every brand has a story. Are you a husband and wife team following your dream of opening a bed and breakfast after years in the corporate grind? Does the menu of your restaurant use recipes handed down from generation to generation in your family? Find your story and talk about it. 4 Ocean does a great job with this. Its television commercial tells the story of a pair of friends who decided, after taking a surf trip to Bali, to start an ocean cleanup company. When you watch the team pairing up with local villagers to clean up miles of trash-littered shoreline, suddenly you want to be part of it.
What’s your story?
5. Be Authentic
Just like people, brands have their good and bad. They do things well. They make mistakes. Part of humanizing your brand is being transparent and authentic. Be honest about your products and don’t exaggerate features or benefits. If you make a mistake, own it. If you have a problem with a product, say you’re sorry. Be real. People can sniff out a canned response a mile away.
These aren’t the only ways to humanize your brand, but they are a great start. How human do you want to be?