“A brand without trust is a product, and advertising without trust is just noise. Trust is the key thing we need to engage with.” – Keith Weed, former Unilever CMO
Unfortunately, trust between consumers and brands has reached an all-time low. According to Edelman’s 2019 trust barometer, consumers globally have placed advertising as their least trusted industry, even lower than industries such as telecoms and banking. In the UK, consumers gave the industry a trust level of just 37%.
In our current social and political climate, consumers have become more critical and distrustful of big brands, particularly when it comes to protecting their data and privacy. This means that they are now leaning towards smaller businesses instead, believing they’ll provide them with a more personal and authentic experience.
As a new generation of consumers grow up, they also bring with them their values and attitudes. Generation Z are expected to account for roughly 40% of all consumers by 2020, meaning that connecting with consumers who are socially and environmentally conscious, experience driven, and fluent in all things digital and social media, is even more important.
Transparency and authenticity are not only requirements, but when done correctly they are the key to attracting loyal customers, creating lasting relationships and inspiring genuine brand advocates. Today’s consumers are looking for brands that reflect their own ideals and beliefs, as well as real people that reflect their own lives.
Sounds like a tall order? Don’t panic, all this means is that you need to start humanising your brand. In this post we’ll discuss how you can best achieve this.
A Personal Touch
To gain trust with your customers, it’s important that you keep your brand identity consistent across all platforms. Avoid any confusion or mixed messages about who you are, what you do and what you’re saying. If your business is based on a strong, ethical stance then it stands to reason that this should be true in everything you do.
You should have a clear tone of voice but don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your copy that your customers can relate to. If you’re humanising your brand, then there’s no place for generics or jargon. Humour is a powerful tool that every business can use, where appropriate, to help a message resonate with its customers. And when you’re planning content, remember to leave space to react to relevant events as they happen – like a person, not a computer with automated responses!
Finally, don’t forget to show appreciation to your customers – it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. Personalised gifts are a nice touch and a good investment as they’re likely to be shared on social media by valued customers. However, you don’t have to break the bank: setting up personalised automated marketing emails is an easy way to humanise your business, whether to welcome your new customers or to thank your most loyal ones for sticking with you.
Telling A Story
There is nothing more human than showing emotion. Telling an authentic and relatable story is one of the most effective ways to capture your audience’s attention and elicit some sort of response.
The most successful campaigns use storytelling to evoke emotion from their target consumer, inspiring increased social engagement and raising brand awareness – just take a look at the John Lewis Christmas ads. You could also use social media or blog posts to share the real-life stories and anecdotes of your employees. Highlighting that there are people behind the brand who have also experienced set-backs will improve consumers’ perceptions of your business.
Of course, all this is pointless if you don’t know who your customer is and what they’re likely to connect with. To ensure this, you should have extensive research into your key audiences to help inform your decisions.
A Face Behind The Brand
The most obvious way of humanising your brand is, you’ve guessed it, to show off the actual humans behind your brand: your employees. Employees have the power to be effective brand advocates and could be the stars of your social media or website.
Showing employees and their work environment helps your brand to appear genuine and trustworthy to potential customers. Additionally, making the decision to use carefully selected influencers can help to form a connection between brands and consumers. They have the ability to add a trustworthy face and seal of approval to your brand.
You should also interact with your customers where possible – online and in-person. Listen and respond to their engagement with your social media posts and consider sharing user-generated content to form deeper consumer relationships. Your brand could even organise experiences or events within your community, such as supporting a local charity, at the same time initiating face-to-face interaction with consumers.
Humanising your brand will take some effort but if you weren’t convinced already, the potential rewards of increased customer trust, engagement and loyalty should be incentive enough. If you need help formulating a marketing strategy or creating content that engages your audience, we’d love to hear from you.