I’ve recently been asked to help out with marketing a TEDx event in Nantwich. I’m an avid TED Talks fan, and so I jumped at the chance. This event is the first of its kind locally and regionally and it’s great to see this happening on my doorstep.
At rehearsal this week, I heard a talk by Andrew Thorp that mirrored my beliefs around marketing: that ‘being human’ is a must for making someone interesting. It’s the same with brands. Brands that have a human quality stand a better chance of getting noticed by standing out from the clutter.
It’s always been important for brands to differentiate themselves. But nowadays, in a digital-centric age, where the average person is exposed to thousands of sales and marketing messages each day, it’s more important than ever. Brands have the opportunity of achieving differentiation through finding their voice, their style, their personality, their ‘thing’, and running with it.
Not only will humanising your brand make it stand out, it will also create a brand that connects with customers, that builds trust and ultimately turns them into brand advocates. How? By stirring up an emotional as well as logical response. A brand with a human quality is accessible, tangible…friendly.
So what’s an example of a brand doing this and doing it well?
One that springs to mind is MailChimp – the email marketing platform. They’re an incredibly accessible company. How so? Their approach is human. In their words, their brand voice is “familiar, friendly and straightforward”…”smart but not stodgy”.
Additionally there’s Freddie the chimp – MailChimp’s mascot. Freddie represents what Mailchimp stands for: making work fun and creativity. He’s a huge hit with anyone that meets him when engaging with MailChimp’s services.
Having a mascot is not a substitute for having a marketing strategy however. The really important thing is the whole experience the customer has with your service or product. The likes of Freddie are just one of the tools that help achieve that. I use MailChimp when creating email marketing campaigns for clients, and it’s an absolute joy. Friendly, humorous, slick and ‘on it’…at all touch points. As a result, I am loyal to MailChimp and use it time and time again. And if you don’t mind me saying so, I create some pretty stonking email campaigns with it too.
So how can brands become more ‘human’?
Well this is a separate blog post in itself, but here are a few ideas to keep you going until I find the time to put pen to paper on this topic:
- Give your brand a human voice and kill the business jargon: speak naturally. In the words of Andrew Thorp, add a ‘bit of daft’. (This resonating with me probably has something to do with my northern roots). Ensure however that there are brand guidelines in place to make sure no-one veers too far or steps over the mark.
- Show ‘behind-the-scenes’ of a company or organisation: don’t be scared! It’s the day-to-day stuff that will set you apart. For example, the craft and care that goes into making your service or product so special, and the employees that make that happen. Communicate these moments via photos, videos, blog posts…make your company come to life.
Brands can no longer afford to be faceless. Many Financial Services and Telecomms brands drive me mad with their sterility. Whether they’re targeting B2B audiences or B2C, they’re still targeting human beings right? Those that have made an attempt at becoming more human have attached some token brand character to their logo and left it at that…hoping that the jobs a good ‘un. Well it ain’t a good ‘un. Far from it.
It’s simply not enough to adopt a human approach as a whimsical marketing tactic, or to communicate it a couple of times to your audience. It needs to be engrained in every ounce of a company’s culture; it should be communicated consistently and loudly at every touchpoint. Externally and internally. It needs be lived, breathed, digested, nurtured, nourished, dreamt and sung from the hilltops. And beyond. Only then, will your ‘thing’ achieve authenticity and be convincing.
And the best bit? Once it’s convincing, people will notice it. Connect with it. Be interested in it. ‘Buy’ it.
So cold, corporate brands out there: go think about how you can stand out and increase connection with your audiences by becoming more ‘human’. But make sure you’re genuine about it won’t you?