Customers today want connection. Smart brands realize that customers expect more conversational and human interactions from brands. This leaves marketers with the challenge of creating a personal connection and highly empathetic brand experience; increasingly through automation.
A brand is no longer simply a logo, recognizable colors, or a fancy slogan telling people to “Just Do It” as Nike would have us do. It’s so much more than that.
Your brand is what you say you’ll do and how you do it, it’s your manifesto, philosophy, and how you go about fulfilling your mission. It’s how every employee embodies and represents what you do and who you do it for in both the online and offline world.
It’s how well you take on challenges and treat them with humanity instead of as another statistic or data point. It’s how well you listen and show how much you care for every single customer.
The human brand ecosystem
What does it mean to be human? The human brand is a living, breathing ecosystem made up not only of your core messages, values and mission but also the emotional connection it provides your customers. It’s in how you inspire and connect with your customers on an emotional level. According to the Braze Brand Humanity Index conducted by Forrester Consulting, here’s what they uncovered about brand humanity:
- 36% of brand humanity stems from brands using natural communication: They speak like a regular person, in a tone that resonates with customers, and in a manner that is clear and understandable.
- 33% of brand humanity comes from activating emotions in your customers. Emotional attributes that are most important to consumers are: responsive, social, friendly, thoughtful, and helpful, in rank order. This challenges popular notions of branding – that good branding means differentiation above all. Forrester’s research indicates that it’s less about differentiation and more about being an ally to your customers. Simply helping customers out as you would for a friend can activate the emotions that signal brand humanity.
- 31% of brand humanity comes from being perceived as personal and considerate. This means that customers feel like your brand knows them. Your messaging is personal; you understand what matters to them at the moment and, because of that, you’re able to make great recommendations for them and avoid things they don’t like.
Dipanjan Chatterjee of Braze says, “Human beings are biologically wired for empathy. It is your responsibility, then, to go back to your organization full of people who are wired for empathy to connect the synapses, to make sure that you have an organization that is ready to be empathetic. Because if not, then nothing else matters. First things first. You need empathy.”
How Human is Your Brand?
Humanizing the relationship between people and brands
Do everything to make automated content feel human.
The word automation is everywhere these days. We’re automating email sequences, sales processes, social media, call centers, online chat assistants, our homes, and yes, even our meals.
While automation provides speed and efficiency for busy marketers, the key is to stay human in your marketing and make sure automation supports your branding while delighting customers.
The last thing any business wants is cold, stale marketing emails, or an automated call center phone menu that drives customers away instead of making them brand champions.
- Using conversational language
- Using a real human’s name as the reply-to in email sequences and campaigns
- Collect data from as many touchpoints as possible to further personalize the customer journey
Get visual – Create campaigns worth sharing.
Humans are visual creatures, and part of creating a more human brand is sharing relatable imagery. Don’t be afraid to show customers “human.” Creating a visual campaign that’s worth sharing will boost your marketing ROI.
Ozmosis Surf Shop in Australia showed their human side by creating a sharable campaign offering customers a unique way to pay for their purchase. Customers were allowed to “Pay with Pain” and received a discount for showing bruises, scrapes, scratches and injuries. Ozmosis created a campaign around surfing that customers understand and empathize with — surfing is all about falling down, getting up, falling down, and trying again. The brand understands the surf lifestyle and incorporated it into their marketing in a way that invites customers to be a part of.
Nurture the customer relationship beyond conversion
Human brands evolve. They never sit still; they are always learning, listening and staying in touch with their customers.
How many times has your brand dropped the ball once a customer has converted? Did you create trust and get follow up sales or did the lead go cold?
In today’s world where customers expect a full-on brand experience through every step of the customer journey, it’s more important than ever to stay present, listen and differentiate.
Drop’s Data Science and Machine Learning team developed a recommender model to power their “Recommended For You” feature in their app. Every day, members entrust Drop with their transaction data so they can earn points faster at brands they’re likely to shop at.
“We are able to enrich their shopping experience by helping them discover brands they would not otherwise interact with. The impact on our partners: revenue driven by engaged and loyal customers.” ~ Grace Tenorio, Data Scientist at Drop.
Two key entities are at the core of the Drop ecosystem: members and partner brands. Drop’s focus is to provide both with exceptional value and consistently win their trust.
Drop is keeping their eye on the ball and nurturing both customer and brand partners through the customer journey to create a relationship of loyalty, value, and trust.
Make empathy front and center.
It’s the age of the customer. One where customers are empowered with information and want to converse with brands instead of being shouted at. Brands need to connect with customers on an emotional level.
By making empathy front and center, brands can build an emotional connection with customers, and engage the people who use their products in real conversations and inspire trust.
Here are four ways brands can put empathy front and center:
- Customers want connection – invest in building relationships
- Show compassion – empathize, don’t judge or pressure customers
- Be Real – imperfection creates trust
- Resonate on an individual level – use humor, inspiration, or relatability to create a personal connection
Buying a product is no longer transactional, it’s a journey. Good brands create strategies to walk their customers from one step to the next while providing a nurturing relationship. So, how human is your brand?