Calling All Brands! It’s Time To Become Human

There is a marketing movement happening that your company can't ignore. Brands no longer want to be seen as intimidating corporate titans. They want to be viewed as companies that value their customers as individuals. While buzzwords like "engagement" and "social" have been popular for a while, the latest trend is for brands just to be human.

This movement is in part to due to research indicating that 63% of people are influenced more by other people than brands. Simply put, brands need to act like humans to attract the modern consumers. 

What’s The Challenge for Brands?

They are scared! It’s not uncommon for brands to feel nervous or fearful of losing control of their messaging as they venture into the process of humanization. In fact, only 3% of brands have started marketing themselves on a personal level. This leaves tons of opportunity for your marketing team, but first, you have to get started.

What Are The First Steps For Marketing Teams?

First, marketing teams should be prepared to promote the importance of brand personalization with management. According to a study by Epsilon Research, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company they feel a personal connection to

Next, they have the giant task of figuring out how to update their marketing tactics so their brands stay relevant. Brands need to focus on marketing that engages individual consumers based on their unique interests and preferences.

How Do Companies Get Started in Brand Humanization?

A great way to start is to slowly implement what I've termed "The 3 C's of Attention Marketing - Culture, Context, and Community" into your marketing strategy.

Culture: Start to produce content inline with the culture of your brand and the audience you want to reach. Become part of a cultural conversation that is relevant to your brand. Don't be afraid to hijack existing cultural moments to prove you are in touch with what is happening at the moment. 

Align your brand story with the needs and interests of your audience. Make sure your brand is organically woven into the content narrative and speaks in a tone that resonates with consumers.

For example, women’s empowerment has been a large part of the cultural conversation over the past several years, and brands are responding.

The campaign #LikeAGirl from Always and Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want“ have been paramount in redefining the role of women in sports to one of strength and empowerment.

2 Context: This refers to delivering the right kind of message, at the right time, to the right person. It's tough to do this well, but it's becoming increasingly important to hold the attention of your audience.

For example, Cracker Barrell is now using highly targeted messaging strategies. This includes creative messaging on various online media platforms. One example is a micro-targeted and highly personalized integrated campaign called 'The Office Hero' that supports their business-to-business, meal-catering program.

When you have context around your relationship with a potential customer, you can provide personalized marketing content that's targeted to their needs. When done right, you will avoid producing the kind of marketing that annoys people. 

Community: Developing a community of consumers is imperative in today's marketplace. The most effective marketers can rely on their community instead of paid media. A community is a two-way conversation that is extremely interactive and social. Some people will still just watch or read, but many will participate and share your content with their friends.

  1. Be present with your target audience. Develop a regular exchange that will create trust. Live up to the expectations you create.

  2. Be responsive. Listen and be positive.  Engage and involve your audience by asking them to share your content. Produce material that is worth sharing, and make sure it’s easy to do! 

  3. Leverage fans to amplify your brand. Your customers and followers can be an extension of our marketing team. Give them the tools so that they can talk about your brand. Participation will lead to amplification.

A brand that has been very successful at building community is Playstation (Sony).  They have done an exceptional job at providing an online space for gamers to connect by game, interests, or the type of support they need. The brand uses feedback, advocacy, and superior customers service to keep their customers engaged. 
PlayStation also promotes user-generated content. One of the new features on the PS4 allows users to upload in-game clips directly online. This move will increase and continue to grow the strength of the community.

The Importance of Brand Storytelling 

In the past, marketers could create compelling images, add a memorable tagline and then push their message out through mass media. It was simplistic, but it worked. Now, brands need to break through the clutter by becoming master storytellers to keep the attention of their audience. 

Humans have long been charmed by stories. Stories make us stand in line to see a movie, rush home to watch our favorite TV show, and keep our eyes glued to our mobile devices. A great story holds our attention and makes us want to see more.

Telling your story is a critical part of building your brand. It shapes how people view you and enables consumers to form a connection with you and your company. When done right, you will develop a thriving brand with people who love what you do, what you stand for, and the stories you tell. 

Examples of Successful Brand Storytelling

Minnetonka is a brand that uses storytelling to promote a family brand that supplies products that look good, are comfortable, and will last. They use stories that transcend class and generations. They have a company history on their website which is presented as a short timeline and ends with an inspirational movie that delves into the brand’s beliefs and its relationship with its consumers. 

Recently Nike’s Equality campaign used storytelling to celebrate differences and inspire change through the power of sport. Nike launched the campaign with a moving video that asked us to extend the respect we see on the court, rink, or field into the “real” world. The campaign includes a line of athletic apparel and plans to donate $5 million this year to charities dedicated to equality across the US.

In Conclusion

It’s time for your company to move away from impersonal marketing messaging and evolve into a modern brand that consumers feel a personal connection with. Gather up your team, and brainstorm ways to link your brand to broader cultural movements. Build an engaged community and target different consumers with unique messages. Use excellent storytelling to connect people to your brand. 

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Arnt Eriksen