Focusing on the Human: How to Humanize Your Brand Online
This is a guest post courtesy of Ana Silva.
We are moving towards a future that values real human qualities in brands and big corporations. In today’s world, customers are increasingly turning to brands that they can really believe in and trust, building relationships and extending communication channels.
Breaking down corporate barriers and humanizing your brand is the best way of developing and maintaining a solid relationship with a consumer base. Your customers want to be having active conversations with you and they want your communication to be genuine, clear and above all, human.
Here’s the how, and the why, to doing it:
3 Reasons to Humanize Your Brand
Manage risk online & protect your reputation: Any crisis nowadays will quickly move to an online crisis; being vulnerable and open online enables you to defend your brand in a real-time world.
Enables brands to be part of customer’s lives: The best brands don’t just sell a product or service: they sell a lifestyle.
Builds greater trust and reliability: Encourage people to develop real connections with your brand by ensuring your communication stands out from that of your competitors.
5 Ways to Humanize Your Brand
Personality: Own your own.
Don’t be afraid to be an individual; it’s the best way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, however scary it may be.
An online personality involves three key areas:
Developing your identity uniformly across these areas strengthens your brand vision and helps your audience to understand who and what you are.
Show us people’s faces.
Frankly, your customers don’t really care who the CEO is, or how many companies he’s owned. What they do want to know is who is speaking to them via your social networks or customer support system.
If you have a community manager or even just one person handling your social channels, make sure you introduce them and share pictures of them working and being themselves.
Also, ensure they always sign their real name on any communication via email and social. This demonstrates that you’re serious about engaging with people on a human level and not just as a marketing tool.
Be real; be open; be honest. Be your humble self.
Authenticity is important because it validates your brand; just like authenticity as a characteristic validates you as a person. Be confident about who you really are and your customers will become brand ambassadors for you, following you wherever you go and however the market landscape changes.
Don’t conceal important information in a digital world. The likelihood is someone somewhere will find it. When they do your customers will look to your brand and wonder what you had to hide.
Be who you say you are.
Alongside authenticity, integrity is invaluable as a brand...
With social media emerging as one of the most powerful marketing tools that we have today, more and more companies are taking to Facebook and Twitter to increase their fan base and improve brand loyalty.
The below infographic from Maximillion shows us how event managers use social media networks to promote their events, but it also has some valuable tips for all budding entrepreneurs looking to increase their brand’s presence and connect to a wider audience.
For instance, did you know that Facebook updates with images get 53% more likes and 104% more comments?
Infographic created by Maximillion.
Whether you work from home or commute to an office, odds are you spend a sizable chunk of your valuable time in your workspace. I should know, I spend an inordinate amount of time in mine. Mine also happens to be my bedroom, so there is that.
That being said, decorating your office can have more of an impact than you think, both on you personally as well as your staff, clients and potential customers who enter your space. A space that feels good and conveys who you are as a professional or what your brand represents is well worth the effort.
Note: this likely means you should not work out of your bedroom like I do. Although to be fair, I do have a home office. I just prefer my nice comfy bed.
Regardless, before you dive into redecorating said office, you’ll have a few key things to consider.
Everything from colors and decor to layout and design can make an impact. You also want to be aware of how incorporating your branding into the decor will flow seamlessly into the overall look of your office.
Where to Start
Good question. First, it’s important to plan ahead. Make time to sketch out what you are planning in every area of the office. Do the rooms and hallways flow together? Did you leave ample room for traffic and social interaction? Did you take into account possible future expansion or growth? By asking yourself a few simple questions, you can save time, energy and money in the long run.
Next consider how to best take advantage of your particular space. If you have multiple rooms in your office, make sure you are putting them to their best possible use. Reception areas should be open and inviting with comfortable seating.
Hallways can be designed with your brand in mind instead of just a solid color, and if done well, can make a great first impression on your clients as you lead them to a meeting room.
Finally, remember to think outside the box. When planning out furniture and accessories, allow room for creativity.
Floating or wall-mounted desks offered at stores like Overstock are an affordable way to add creativity while saving space. Custom roller blinds from The Shade Store add a unique look while still being functional.
And don’t be afraid to take advantage of color. Whether you are looking to match your brand and logo, or give employees a mood boost, color choices can have a significant impact.
Most offices have a variety of departments and areas: finance, customer service, research, design, implementation and meeting spaces. Unless of course you freelance from home. Then you might have your kitchen, your bathroom, your… but I digress. hehe
The employees in each of these departments might have a drastically different idea of how they want the rooms to look, and it always pays to keep your staff happy. (Or your hubby. Whatevs.)
Companies like Drum celebrate the diversity of their employees with fun wall designs in the creative department space and a mural in the meeting room, highlighting their...
I don’t know about you, but I firmly believe music holds power. A lot of power. I’m a faith kind of girl, so in particular I believe worship music holds extreme power, but all types of music can be powerful when it comes to bringing to mind memories of days gone by, or uniting a group of people in a way that only music can.
Music can also be powerful in business and branding. How many jingles do you hear on television and radio commercials that wind up stuck in your head for days to follow? That’s effective marketing at it’s best.
Read the following lyrics: “Want a Fanta? / Don’t you want a, / want a Fanta?” If the voice in your mind suddenly began singing an octave or two higher, congratulations, you just experienced the power of one of the catchiest jingles of all time.
These tunes are so memorable that a 2012 study by Vienna University of Economics and Business concluded that they’re more effective than slogans alone.
Companies interested in increasing their recognition with an addicting tune should take a page from some of the catchiest jingles of 2014.
“Bus Opera” by J.G. Wentworth
First on the list is J.G. Wentworth, a financial services firm that specializes in purchasing structured settlements and annuities from individuals.
Their newest commercial is a full-scale musical, complete with creative lyrics, fun costumes and a catchy chorus. We bet you’ll be singing “Call J.G. Wentworth / 877-CASH NOW” all through your lunch hour after watching their ad on YouTube.
“The World is Ours” by Coca-Cola
Who could forget Coca-Cola’s rhythmic jingle for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil? The slogan “The World is Ours” became as iconic as Big Red’s fizzy drink, thanks to this carnival-inspired song.
The entire commercial features upbeat music, feel-good imagery and visual repetition of words, making this a hard jingle to forget. Furthermore, Coca-Cola actually went through the trouble of creating 32 different versions of The World is Ours tailored to a variety of viewers, reports Businessweek.
Now that’s dedication.
“Get Up and Vote!” by the Election System of the Virgin Islands
Lesser-known is a jingle created by the Election System of the Virgin Islands. Their campaign raises awareness about the need to vote and encourages residents to “Get up / Get up / Get up / Get up / Get up / Get up and vote!”
This simple but effective jingle is featured on their main voting website and gets viewers excited about exercising their voting rights. Gone are the days of stuffy voting PSAs. It’s all about the infectious tunes now.
“The SafeAuto Jingle” by Angie Gillespie
This year SafeAuto hosted a jingle competition called DoTheJingle. The winner was Angie Gillespie from Kentucky and her quirky song about SafeAuto’s car insurance.
While walking to her car in the morning she states that the number...
Open for biz but not quite sure how to get the word out? Many businesses utilize signage such as banners to capture the attention wandering eyes.
Banners can be used for announcements, to promote products, and even just to look cool and raise awareness of your company’s name in the minds and hearts of onlookers. Signage can at times be an important method of promoting a business. This is dependent on the type of business you run of course.
Businesses are able to utilize signs that can literally shout to viewers, in a way other forms of marketing can’t. (If you’ve ever been bowled over by a big sign on the side of a bus, you know what I’m talking about here.) Provided you have the budget for it… otherwise more modest signage is definitely recommended.
If you’ve tried everything short of standing outside your place of business in a costume with an arrow that says “Come On In, We’re Open for Business”, you might want to try designing a banner or three. (Trust me it will save you a lot of time and embarrassment.)
Banner Design Advice
There’s no point in investing in a banner to advertise and brand your business if you’re going to haphazardly throw something together. Theoretically, you could have a fifth grader could draw your company name on some posterboard and call it a banner. I doubt however, that it’d get you very far in the marketing race.
The wrong design can quickly do the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish and make your customers run for the hills. So… follow some of the tips below and try not to scare your customers.
Make It Visible
Your potential customers need to be able to see and read your signs without any trouble. According to eSigns, one of the most important aspects of custom banners is their readability and viewership potential. Customers shouldn’t have to squint or struggle to see and understand what your banner is advertising.
When thinking of designs, it is important to ensure that they are large enough to be seen up close (for customers walking by) and far away (for customers driving by). If they can’t see it in either scenario, you’ve pretty much wasted your money.
Make It Eye-Catching
As I mentioned before, anyone can make a sign and call it a banner, but if it doesn’t grab the attention of others, your sign is simply filling up empty space.
When thinking about your designs, it should be attractive and noticeable to others. Bold colors and vivid graphics that will pop out against it’s surrounding environment, (i.e. the wall), work well on banner designs. What you shouldn’t do however, is choose too many colors or graphics, and make your sign “busy”.
A sign that makes a customer go “Yikes!” is certainly going to grab attention, but probably not the kind you’re striving for. Nor will you be able to keep said attention.
Make it Legible
You’d be surprised how many signs and banners I’ve ran across and wondered what in...
It’s no great business secret that sales and marketing departments are often at odds with one another. The problem usually starts with the idea that marketing and sales are needed at different points of the customer purchasing cycle.
This attitude that “we’re only responsible for our portion of the cycle” creates the feeling of being on two separate teams. Management needs to engage both marketing and sales in the entire cycle. This melding, dubbed “smarketing,” (snicker, snicker… love that word) puts everyone on the same team and gets results.
One of the biggest challenges will be opening up communication between the two departments. This requires two things:
Both company culture and your communications tools should enable your employees to better understand the following factors that impact the purchasing cycle:
Many times, the sales force feels like marketing does not focus properly on the four Ps— product, pricing, place and promotion. Facilitate sales input on the company’s marketing efforts. This can provide insight that your salespeople obtain during direct interaction with customers, as well as help in determining the target market.
At this step, marketing wants customers to already be aware of their product, brand or business. This can be achieved with many different strategies, including content marketing, nurturing campaigns and competitive analytics. The sales team should be playing a crucial role in gathering information, raising brand awareness, creating referrals and market positioning through customer communication.
Oftentimes, this is the step where the lead hand-off takes place. Without a well-defined process for what qualifies as a good, sales-ready lead and how it should be handed off, many leads will end up as dead ends.
When a customer decides to make a purchase, they need answers to many questions both about the product itself and the purchasing process (such as return policies and warranties to reassure them they are making the right decision). Both marketing and sales need to be focused on value delivery. Bringing sales and marketing together to communicate and share obstacles, objectives and goals can help create a quality experience that overcomes customer concerns.
Once the sale is made, both sales and marketing should be involved in the post-purchase follow-up. Both sides need to work together to encourage referrals, ensure customer satisfaction, achieve customer retention, generate marketing data and turn customers into brand advocates. Ask customers to...