Written by Canon Wing

I teach entrepreneurs and organizations the proven action steps to stand out within their market, improve the perceived value of their business, and better connect with their audience through naming, branding, storytelling, and communication platforms.

February 18, 2021

The Top Four Ways to Humanize Your Brand in 2021

Today we’re answering the question on every entrepreneur’s mind: How do I humanize my brand?

In this episode I’m going to give you The Top Four Ways to Humanize Your Brand in 2021, so you can Come Out of Nowhere and be an Inspiration to Millions.

Okay, so words like intimacy and vulnerability are not typically associated with business strategy. These are touchy-feely relationship words. Vulnerability in particular actually has negative connotations in business, implying weakness. Purchase decisions used to be product-driven, but now deciding to buy is about something a lot more intimate and vulnerable: Our Humanity. And brands that aren’t able to evolve with today’s digital consumers are steadily losing brand loyalty. 

Whatever business you are in, Brand Loyalty is your Business Plan.

The decision to buy has always been emotional. Product promotion is no longer enough to stir us to take action. We are less product focused, because we can now get virtually anything we need delivered to our doorstep within a day or two. The internet allows us to get closer to brands than ever before. We can read reviews that can prevent purchasing missteps. We can find out how brands are treating their employees, how they are using their profits, how they are impacting the environment…What today’s consumer wants from a brand is an alignment of values, a reliable connection. To put it plainly we want the brands we invite into our lives to feel like rewarding relationships. 

So let’s dive right into The Top Four Ways to Humanize Your Brand in 2021:

Share Your Story 

We don’t trust the perfect image anymore. No one is perfect, and projecting an image of perfection makes us feel suspicious, or defensive, or just bad about ourselves. We want brands that make us feel good! Especially in times like these. 

Patagonia is a brand who has become an Inspiration to Millions because of their dedication to sustainable practices that protect the environment their community of outdoor enthusiasts love. But when you read their brand story, you discover two times that Patagonia realized their products were actually causing real damage to the ecosystem. Instead of burying their mistakes to maintain a pristine image, they are transparent about their shortcomings, they take responsibility, and they share the efforts they made to correct their mistakes. A very important, and often overlooked aspect of humanizing your brand is forgetting that humans are imperfect, and a huge part of the human experience is learning from mistakes. 

People don’t want brands to be perfect. Expecting perfection from a relationship is unrealistic. What people really want is authenticity, accountability, and consistency. Those are the characteristics that build trust, loyalty and long-lasting relationships. So where to begin telling your brand’s authentic human story? With the very first encounter your audience has with your brand.

Your brand’s name, tagline, and logo should aim to inspire in people one consistent emotion, so upon first glance—boom! They get an immediate feeling for who your brand is and what your brand stands for. The average person sees about 5,000 ads a day, and immediately deletes all memory of around 99% of them. In today’s digital world, there’s just too much information flying around for people to remember everything they see and read, but they will remember how someone or something made them feel. 

Stay True to Your Word 

There is an old saying that goes, “A good brand is a promise kept.” I would take it further to say that a GREAT brand is a promise kept over and over and over again. The truth about humanizing any brand, is that YOU are the human behind your brand. It is your humanity, your heart, your love, your values and ethics, that will ultimately determine the way your brand is going to be perceived. It’s easy to present a list of lofty values and ethics and say “This my brand.” But unless you yourself are bringing those values and ethics to life in your everyday interactions with people, using those values and ethics to guide your everyday decisions about how to react and how to respond, and inspiring your brand culture by example to live into those values and ethics themselves, then all you have are words on paper. The best part about being a leader is that everything you do makes a difference, and the hardest part about being a leader is that everything you do makes a difference every single day. Remember when seeking to humanize your brand, that you are shaping more than just a concept of how you want your brand to be perceived, you are creating a way of life for yourself, you are becoming the living embodiment of how good life with your brand can be. Staying true to your word means you take those values and ethics off the page and you live into them everyday yourself. Only your heart can give your brand heart, and only your authenticity can make your brand authentic.

Support Their Journey 

This one is all about listening. Every dollar your brand makes is going to from listening, and it’s never too early to start listening and getting to know your audience best. The brand that knows them best is the brand that wins brand loyalty. When deciding on a purchase, your audience encounters several obstacles to buy. The most common obstacles are time, money, ability, and peer pressure. Which of these obstacles to buy is the one your ideal individuals encounter the most, and how can your brand support their journey? The relationships in our lives that we cherish the most are the ones with the people we feel really see and hear us. The people who understand our hearts and minds and stand by us even when we aren’t at our best. To humanize your brand you must Value Every Vulnerability. Support your audience from where they are today, and every step of the way, continue to encourage them to move toward the greater future promised by your brand.

Show Your Gratitude 

In relationships, it is so important to make others feel appreciated. This strategy is an especially potent win-win for your customers and your brand, because it creates an exchange of emotional currency. Neurological studies have actually confirmed that gratitude is the most potent emotion for stimulating the reward center of our brains, and further studies have concluded that the success or failure of a relationship can be directly traced back to the amount of gratitude the couple expresses for one another. Gratitude is one of the most nuanced and exalting emotions that human beings are capable of, and showing gratitude to someone elevates your connection, raises the vibrations, and infuses your relationship with a sense of purpose. There are many ways a brand can show gratitude. By making donations to causes that are dear to your customers’ hearts, by using social media to connect with people directly, by celebrating member’s of your team, having fun contests and giveaways, offering special promotions to return customers, by getting out and doing good in the world and in your community in the name of those that support your brand. People helping people. That is the essence of humanity, and you have the power to give your customers the feeling of doing good in this world just by supporting your brand. That is an exchange of higher order, greater than can be measured in dollars and cents, and the result is brand loyalty. 

Start with naming the one emotion you want your brand to inspire in your Ideal Individuals, and then go through The Four Ways and brainstorm how your brand can consistently inspire that emotion for your customers. 

Thank you so much for joining me today! Treat this as your masterclass in becoming an Inspiration to Millions with Branding. And as always, the way to becoming an Inspiration to Millions starts with our mantra: Love What You Do, And Love How You Do It.