Why do some brands resonate with us for years throughout our lives, while most others fade into oblivion? How can you disrupt a multi-million-dollar industry? Why do so many people pay $1 extra for a can of Red Bull when a can of V Energy Drink has basically the same ingredients? What came first, the chicken or the egg? We’ve got the answers to these questions. Except that last one. That still baffles us. If anyone has any theories, feel free to let us know. So read below for ways to humanise your brand.
1. Create And Develop Your Brand Story
When we meet someone in real life, we might have an encounter that goes something like this:
“So what do you do for work Sarah?”
“I’m a lawyer for a firm that mostly works on humanitarian matters”
“That sounds interesting, do you enjoy it?”
“Yeah I really do. Actually, we just won a case a few weeks ago which enabled us to provide special nutritional food to around 120,000 children in Bangladesh. It’s cases like those that really remind me of the reasons that I went into this line of work”
“Wow, that’s amazing!”
In a few short seconds, Sarah went from being a lawyer to a hero who is fighting to help end poverty. However, if Sarah hadn’t bothered to give that very brief overview of the kind of work she does, the person she was talking to might have walked away from the conversation and never thought of her again. Now however, Sarah is a memorable and admirable person.
This is exactly what your brand story can do for your business. Regardless of the service you are providing or the product that you are selling, there is an interesting story to be told. Think of the bigger picture, think of the reason why you started your business in the first place, think of a particularly notable client, case or customer you’ve had. These are all great places to start when defining your brand story.
Success Story: Warby Parker
One of the best examples of a good brand story is the glasses company, Warby Parker. On the surface, glasses aren’t particularly interesting or exciting. They’re a utilitarian item that you either need or you don’t need. Case closed, right? Not exactly.
Warby Parker was founded in 2010 by four friends who were in business school together. Their website tells their story of how one of them lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and then spent an entire semester unable to read or take notes in lectures because he couldn’t afford a new pair of glasses. The story goes that the four friends decided to make more affordable eyewear. By cutting out the middleman, who basically just splashed an expensive designer label on the glasses, they designed and created glasses for a much more reasonable price. The outcome? Warby Parker is now worth over $1 billion (USD).
“Back in 2009, one of the founders pitched the company to me, offering me the chance to invest in Warby Parker. I declined. It was the worst financial decision I could have made.” – Adam Grant (a professor of the company’s founders)
Warby Parker have partnered with non-profits like VisionSpring. For every pair of glasses that they sell, they also donate a pair of glasses to someone in need. In fact, their website states that 15% of the world’s population cannot effectively learn or work due to the high cost of glasses. Warby Parker have used their brand story to transform eyewear into a method of social betterment.
2. Talk Like A Person, Not Like A Robot
Every single mobile phone, iPad, laptop and tablet in the world sits in the hands of a human being. At this stage you’re probably rolling your eyes thinking ‘Well… duh’. But in a world where we are so caught up in algorithms and key words, it’s easy to forget that we’re simply trying to appeal to people and connect with them.
Scrap your complicated jargon, scrap your boring spiel and scrap your robotic advertising script. Consumers are clever and they know when you aren’t being authentic. If people can connect with and relate to your company, they are much more likely to trust it and become loyal customers.
Success Story: Humans Of New York
You may have heard of a brand called Humans of New York. In 2010, Brandon Stanton lost his job as a bond trader in Chicago. Rather than look for a new Job, Stanton decided to pursue his passion for photography. He moved to New York and began taking pictures of random people on the street and compiled a collection online. Initially, Brandon gained very little success.
“The early days were very tough. Six months in- I was broke, I’d taken thousands of portraits, I didn’t know anyone in New York, nobody was paying attention. Every time I talk about it in a speech I start crying. I’d been working on HONY every day, non-stop, for a year before it got any traction at all”- Brandon Stanton
In an effort to shake things up, Stanton began stopping the people he was photographing on the street and asking them for a quote to publish alongside their photograph. His audience began to pay a bit more attention. Noticing a shift in the way people were responding to his photographs, Stanton began interviewing his subjects, trying to gain insight into their lives. The longer the quotes got and the more interesting the stories became; the more successful Brandon Stanton’s work became. People were craving a brand that they could relate to; they could identify with the heartache, the laughter, the curiosity and the experiences that were being depicted.
The outcome? Humans Of New York has over 18 million followers on Facebook and over 9 million followers on Instagram. Brandon Stanton has published two books which are both New York Times No. 1 Best Sellers, he has created a video series and published photographs from more than 20 countries worldwide. All because he had the realisation that people relate to people.
We all have that friend who’s a bit flaky.
You know the one that you tell the table is booked for 7pm, but really it’s booked for 7.30pm and they’ll probably still be late? Or the one who says yes to weekend plans on a Wednesday but cancels on the Saturday afternoon two hours before you were supposed to meet? Or the one who offers to do you that favour and you think ‘Ha! Yeah okay, we’ll see…’?
Do not, we repeat, DO NOT allow your business to become that person.
Be consistent in your values and personality. Use a consistent voice across social media platforms. Post content consistently. Consistency is the key to consumer trust. This is a three-step process:
- Define what your company represents. What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What is your purpose?
- Take the answers from the bullet point above, and ensure these things are reflected in your branding, your social media pages and your content. What kind of language and tone of voice can you use?
- What platform(s) will you use? Instagram? Facebook? Blogging? All three? Commit to your platforms and post on them frequently.
Success Story: Red Bull
Red Bull do an incredible job of keeping their branding and messaging consistent. Red Bull is essentially just an energy drink designed to give us an energy boost from caffeine and sugar. However, every aspect of Red Bull’s marketing combines the concept of the physical rush we get from their energy drink, to the emotional rush we get from their content.
From articles and features to music, fashion and urban culture events to sponsorship of extreme sports and athletes, every single piece of content that Red Bull creates is hyper-focused on a stimulation of the senses. This idea of exhilaration and adrenaline rushes, ties perfectly back to their promise of “giving wings to people and ideas.”
There you have it. Instead of frantically obsessing over how many likes you have on Facebook and the perfect time to post on Instagram and spending weeks upon weeks trying to perfect your SEO strategy, just take a minute to think about the person who’s actually looking at the screen. Chances are, if you do that, everything else will fall into place.
If you need help humanising your brand get in touch today.