Customers have grown weary of brands. They are constantly bombarded with messages about why they should be choosing one brand over the other and ultimately left feeling unsure and insecure about their choices. The best way to combat this issue and stand out among your competition, is to humanize your brand.
This means giving your brand human characteristics; putting the emphasis on the community and the lifestyle you want to promote. People trust other people more than they trust brands or the corporations behind them. This is why humanization is so powerful and when used effectively will lead consumers to choose your brand over others. Some companies have gone so far as to make a specific person representative of their brand, such as Sprint, Progressive and Dos Equis.
While working with a celebrity or brand ambassador may be the quickest way to humanize your brand, it may not be the best approach.
The following five questions will help you decide the best approach for you to take as you develop your brand’s directional outline and build your marketing plan.
- Who is your target customer?
While knowing your target customer is fundamental to any marketing plan, it is crucial to humanizing your brand. To whom will your customer relate? Who will your customer trust? You want your brand to become BFFs with your customers. You want this person to be there for the customer, the “go-to” for advice and help in your industry. Once you focus on a target group you will be able to give your brand certain characteristics that your customers will find appealing and draw them in. For example, REI and Patagonia’s campaigns emphasize healthy outdoor lifestyles, reflecting a target customer who appreciates nature and enjoys spending time in it. Their promotions are built upon a narrative featuring people being active in nature, wearing their apparel and using their products.
- What lifestyle are you trying to promote?
Connecting your brand to a specific way of living will show your customers the importance of your product without seeming overly promotional. Some great examples of lifestyle marketing can be seen in the “Live With Levi’s” campaign. Levi’s projects a young, inclusive vibe that has become synonymous with the brand. They have done this by featuring youthful, diverse individuals in their campaigns. Their unique style has allowed them to be a household name for many generations. Levi’s is a great example of a brand to which people are drawn because they can relate to it and want to support the message that it promotes.
- Who are your brand ambassadors?
Brand ambassadors are people who can spread your brand identity and brand values. These brand ambassadors can be influencers you sponsor or individuals with whom you work. Sometimes your employees are your very best influences. They know the company’s culture and values the best and can easily spread awareness about all of the positive things your company does and represents. Using brand ambassadors will also help spread awareness across various media channels. Once again, people trust people. If someone your customers respect and follow on social media promotes your brand they are going to hold it in higher regard. Brand ambassadors are a vital step to this humanization process because it connects real people to a your brand.
- What platforms can be used to engage with your customers?
Every company and every customer is different. It should be noted that just because you can have a presence on every media outlet, does not mean you should. Instead, targeting where your customer’s social media presence is highest, and promoting yourself in those specific outlets has a stronger impact. Is Snapchat or Instagram the go-to platform or are Pinterest and Houz a better fit? Find out what works for your company and engage with your customers on those platforms. Having fewer social outlets and maintain direct conversations with your customers is much more powerful and humanizing than being present on a multitude of active platforms that feel robotic and lack authenticity.
- What changes need to be made to your company to best represent the lifestyle and community you are trying to promote?
Align the culture and the values of the organization to the lifestyle that you want to promote. For example, Apple promotes a modern and innovative lifestyle. As a result, they have become to go to destination for people who are buying new technology. This experience begins with their outbound marketing, and continues when the customer walks into Apple store and speaks with their employees. The stores are sleek, well lit, and stylish. Their employees are very knowledgeable about not only their own technology but how it compares to that of their competitors. This alignment of culture and values is further evidenced in their headquarters. This ensures that the brand experience is clear and reinforced, making them more trustworthy in their customers’ eyes.
Regardless of the approach you choose, humanization will be vital to gaining customer trust and standing out from your competition. It is no longer enough to say you have a great product, you need to give your customers the opportunity to experience your product by integrating it into a lifestyle and a community. People trust people, not brands.
Author: Hannah Carlson