Gone are the days when brands could be built on hyper-professionalism, powerful logos and men in expensive suits alone. To get ahead in today’s market, companies need to fight a tidal wave of mistrust and public scrutiny.
Thanks to multiple global financial crises and the increasing visibility of a company’s actions, the public are willing to and able to hold them to higher standards.
People now prefer brands who represent their social values and increasingly purchase from smaller, more ethical businesses. Why? Because they trust them more.
Research shows that consumers trust smaller, local companies because they appear more open and human. What does this mean for business owners?
To succeed in an increasingly de-personalised world, you need to expand your outlook and humanise your brand. Here are four of the best ways to achieve just that.
Put your people front and centre
If you have employees
Your employees are the people behind your brand. There’s no more effective way to showcase your human side than to show off the actual humans that you work with.
We live in a world where corporations exploit foreign workers as a matter of course, so it pays to show that you’re different and care about your employees. You could:
- Submit regular content by your staff. Do you work with budding poets or artists or has someone made a truly great business-related suggestion lately? Then share that with your social media audience.
- Post regular images of your workplace and give them an insight into what you do all day. This action promotes a feeling of openness and allows people to imagine what it would be like to be on the other side of the customer-business relationship.
- Give them credit. When you reach a major milestone, or achieve something impressive as a business, credit your employees. They put a lot of work into making your business work. You couldn’t do what you do without them and your followers will respect you more for recognising it.
If you’re a one-person show
Not every business has employees. If you’re going it alone, your tactics here will be a little different. You can:
- Post pictures of your workspace, but rather than endless selfies, showcase your work lifestyle. For example, if you work from home, you can post pictures of yourself working next to your family or walking to your workshop in your garage. Knowing a little about your working life is key to connecting with your brand.
- Showcase your hobbies and other aspects of your life. For example, if you’re a logo designer and you attend a regular life-drawing class as a hobby, tell your audience about it.
To humanise your business, you need to broaden people’s view of your company from just a profit-making enterprise, to a people-driven lifestyle with a range of interests.
Build trust with brand consistency
On the flip-side, you don’t want to diversify your image so much that you lose your brand identity. People find it easier to connect with ideas when they are consistent and not too complex.
So, while it’s good to talk about your interests outside of your products and services, make sure the voice, tone and imagery you use to convey that information is consistent.
The hub of your brand identity is your website. If you’re using a website builder, it can be easy to lose track of your colour-schemes, graphics styles and presentation as you update and add to it (if you’ve hired a web designer you’re unlikely to have this issue).
When you add a new page to your site, look back at what pages you have already and make sure you tie it in. The same goes for your content. Even if you have multiple people working your posts, make sure everyone sticks to a specific ‘personality’ throughout.
This goes for your website, social media and other marketing. At the start of your brand journey, you should have tried to imagine the character of your brand if it were a person.
- Are they formal, informal, or somewhere in between?
- Are they fun and quirky, or more sincere and mellow?
No matter where you are advertising, or who is doing it, this personality needs to be communicated and kept front and centre.
Interact with your customers
People want to interact with the brands that they buy from. Interaction equals conversation. There’s little point pumping out content on social media and ignoring people’s responses or avoiding interacting with your customers in real life.
On social media:
- Answer people’s comments on your posts
- Take note of what content people say they want and then give it to them
- Encourage user-generated content
In real life
- Get involved in local community projects
- Host other talented locals in your premises (e.g. artworks, live music, speaker events etc.)
- Contribute to or sponsor events that involve your community
Social responsibility is not just a buzz-word for transnational corporations. Local businesses are best placed to be responsible within their communities. And this involved approach to business is increasingly popular.
Allow your content to be ‘in the moment’
It’s wise to have a content schedule to help you keep up with posting demands. But it’s less great when it leads to you appear stale, robotic or disconnected from real life events.
Real people react to current situations. So leave space in your schedule to repost stories from elsewhere and create content as a reaction to what is happening around you.
For example, following Blue Planet II, the number of businesses posting about sustainability and plastic use reduction skyrocketed.
Why? Because it was the right moment to make the point.
The same can be applied to events, competitions, and campaigns. Sometimes you find inspiration from what’s going on around you and you should allow yourself to run with it.
Whether you’re a solo act or a corporation, one of your biggest challenges is winning over your crowd. If you follow these tips to bring the inner human out of your brand you’ll build a loyal following and put yourself comfortably ahead of your competition. What could be
Jodie is a professional writer and editor with UK Web Host Review. She translates dense topics into accessible information helping everyone from small and niche business owners to budding webmasters to reach their goals. She explores design, brand psychology, marketing, and tech.