Your brand is your company’s identity, and serves as the crucial foundation to all your marketing and messaging campaigns. Accordingly, it’s treated as a creation by most businesses, calculating, tweaking, and adjusting a brand the same way they might tinker with the engine of a car. This can be good, especially if those tweaks are rooted in data-based conclusions, but unfortunately, it often results in a cold, mechanized, corporate brand.
If you want to truly connect with people, you need a humanized brand with a genuine personality. This may seem like a difficult feat to achieve, but you can use these 10 tactics to get the job done:
1. Write from the heart. When you’re trying to figure out your company’s brand voice, it’s easy to get lost in descriptive qualities like “authoritative” or “mature,” but these are hard to translate into actual words. The end result is usually swaths of writing that appear insincere or contrived. Instead, write from the heart — you don’t have to worry about “seeming” sincere when you actually are sincere.
2. Cut the jargon. No matter what level of audience you’re writing to (novice, expert, or in between), cut out the industry jargon and buzzwords. These introduce needless weight to your material, and make you seem more like a corporation than a human. There’s always a simpler way to say what you want to say, so take that path of least resistance.
3. Show off your team. Your brand isn’t cold and heartless — it’s composed of some great people, so show those people off! Introduce a “team” or “about us” page with pictures and biographies of some of your top team members. Try to capture their personalities rather than just listing their credentials, and give them a chance to show who they are on the site.
4. Reach out to individuals on social media. Too many brands use social media as a one-way megaphone, distributing messages to an audience rather than using targeted messages to engage with individuals. However, the latter approach is far more useful for building trust and establishing a real persona for your brand. You can’t always respond individually, but do so whenever you have the opportunity.
5. Crack some jokes. Humor relaxes the defenses and allows for a bonding moment, especially when the subject is a shared interest. Crack some jokes in your writing, in your social media campaign, and in any other customer interactions you support — it shows you don’t take yourself too seriously and gives people a reason to bond with your brand.
6. Use real photos and videos. Don’t stuff your campaign full of stock images and charts. Instead, rely on some real photography and video of you and your staff members. For example, you might host a video interview with an industry authority, or use people in your office to illustrate a step-by-step tutorial. These visual cues immediately make your brand seem more personal (and make your content more compelling at the same time).
7. Engage in conversations. Remember the “social” part of social media. I already mentioned doing more to respond to individuals, rather than groups, on social media, but you’ll also want to participate actively in ongoing conversations. This shows that you’re actively monitoring your feeds and listening to real-time feedback, which proves you’re a human brand.
8. Let your employees be themselves. Encourage all your employees to identify themselves as part of your company on their personal social media profiles, and allow them to post content as they see fit. The more personal brands you have operating under your corporate brand, the wider reach you’ll achieve, and the more personal your corporate brand will seem to outsiders.
9. Admit fault when appropriate. Your brand isn’t perfect, and if you try to pretend that it is, people will notice, and they’ll resent you for it. When something goes wrong — like a product recall or a temporary site outage — don’t be afraid to admit your fault. It earns you sympathy and shows that you, like every human on the planet, are imperfect.
10. Stop marketing so hard. I’ll close with a general rule: stop marketing so hard. When you’re actively trying to sell a product or push a message, you naturally sound more artificial and robotic. Instead, trust your instincts and write what comes naturally.
People don’t trust corporations. They don’t trust machines. They trust other people, and the only way to deliver your messages effectively is to show your users that your brand is comprised of people. These tactics aren’t the only ways to humanize your brand, nor do you need to use all of them to be effective, but they should guide you in some helpful best practices to make your brand — and your messaging — much more effective.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!