Five Ways to Help Humanize Your Clients’ Brands
In today’s online world, it’s easy for clients to feel like just another face behind a screen. With more people interacting with brands online and fewer doing business in brick-and-mortar stores or over the phone, it’s easy for brands to seem disconnected and unfeeling.
As a marketing consultant, it’s your job to create that sense of human connection, even when the brand and their customer never interact face-to-face. Here we’ll take a look at the five ways to humanize your clients’ brands.
1. Find Their Voice
The first step to humanizing any brand is finding the right voice. Customers expect a certain type of tone and point of view from a given business, and the voice should be informed by the company’s value proposition.
If your client runs an insurance company, they’re going to want to project a voice that’s trustworthy, reliable, and self-assured. These are the kinds of traits that are important to a customer searching for someone to insure their car or home. An independent coffee shop will have a different voice—they’ll want to be friendly, approachable, and lighthearted. Those customers want to be greeted by a smiling barista when they enter the store, and the online voice for the coffee shop should feel like a friendly wave and a cup of joe from that same barista.
Once you’ve established what a customer’s voice should be, you want to make sure it’s consistent across all of their online channels. Their website, social media, and email campaigns should all project that same tone. When voice and tone are inappropriate for the type of business or are inconsistent across channels, customers grow wary and may opt to go with another business that seems to have a better handle on their messaging.
2. Make Them Easily Approachable
Nearly half of the country’s population has basic or below basic reading skills. Brands need to take this into account when creating content both on- and offline. Unless your client works in a highly technical field (read: if they’re an actual rocket scientist), the marketing materials you create for them should be between a 6th and 8th grade reading level.
When brands embrace writing that is overly complex or full of industry jargon, they alienate prospects. No one wants to do business with a company that seems standoffish, so you want to make sure the image that you’re presenting of your client’s business is one that is easy to talk to, willing to listen, and able to help.
The same is true with sales-y language. Customers don’t like to feel like they’re being thought of as just a dollar sign in a spreadsheet somewhere, so when language veers off into “used car salesman” territory, that can be off-putting.
3. Create a Personal Connection
With the rise of social media, there are numerous opportunities for you to offer customers a window into the life of your clients. Most business interactions occur online nowadays, and people want to feel like they’re really connecting with someone on the other side of the screen.
Consider tapping certain employees for a “social media takeover.” The company’s social accounts can follow that employee through a day in the life at their job, which can foster a real sense of connection between the customer and the people running the brand. Think beyond the board room on this one; include employees from every level and department, so that customers feel like they’re getting to know authentic individuals, not just those who are supposed to be the face of a brand.
Integrating video into your strategy is another great tactic for creating personal connection. Maybe that’s through a webinar or Q&A, where customers are able to hop online and interact in real time with the company’s leadership. Perhaps it’s a welcome video for new customers featuring employees talking about the great services they’ll now be able to take advantage of. Whatever form it takes, video can help you create something that feels all-encompassing and speaks to your clients’ customers on a visceral level.
4. Put the Social Back in Social Media
The beauty of social media is that it is designed to be a two-way street. Social media allows a brand to have conversations with prospects and customers, so if a business is not using social media for this purpose, they’re missing out on the benefits of social platforms.
You should absolutely be creating a social media strategy and calendar for your clients, but you also want to make sure they feel empowered to engage customers in conversation. If someone posts a gripe about the brand on Instagram, the company should respond sincerely and look into their complaint. If someone posts a stellar review on Yelp, the business should take the time to thank them on that platform.
Creating a dialogue between brand and customer not only humanizes the brand for that individual, it also allows anyone watching the interaction play out on the social platform to see how the brand handles themselves. That is why it’s so important to make sure your clients know how to employ the right tone for their brand and to effectively manage all comments.
If the tone on these off-the-cuff interactions doesn’t match the tone of planned content on social media, that’s a red flag for users. You also want to make sure that your clients take the feedback they receive—good or bad—seriously. If they promise to look into an issue raised by a customer and then never follow through, there are other customers who will see that and think less favorably of the brand.
5. Honesty is the Best Policy
One of the best ways to humanize a brand is to be honest. There are so many places people can turn to verify any claims you make about the product or service a business is offering, so don’t try to stretch the truth. That is the quickest way to alienate a prospect or client, and when you erode trust like that you may never be able to win them back.
You also want to encourage your clients to be honest about any errors. There’s nothing more human than making a mistake, and brands fare much better when they own up to theirs. Take for example, Chipotle, who faced an E. Coli outbreak in 2015. People were getting sick after eating at their stores across the country, but rather than try to brush things under the rug, Chipotle was transparent about the issue. They preemptively closed down all of their stores to do testing and institute new food safety measures.
That honest approach has helped Chipotle bounce back from what could have been a business-ending catastrophe. Customers are more forgiving than you think, and being honest about goofs can actually help to create empathy for a brand.
Brands face a lot of competition in the online world. One of the best ways to help your clients’ business stand out is to create a marketing approach that humanizes their business, employees, and products. When customers feel like they’re connecting with a brand that’s being run by genuine, well-meaning people, they’re more excited to give them business and to refer the company to their friends.