How Important is Humanizing Your Brand

In an era where every Internet user has a journey to share and is the storyteller of their own immediate world – the question is – how often does your brand take into consideration that it needs to do the same? 

In business, we often interpret the act of purchasing products as a purely transactional experience – one that is solely between a business and its consumer. It is rare that a brand superimposes its ability to sell you a human experience past why their product is made for you. Too often, their marketing ensures how the offering will ultimately give you a better lifestyle experience, yet few rarely provide a narrative experience for the human in you.

But times they are a changin’, as Dylan sang.

Take this for example – no lies – I nearly shed a tear while watching a Duracell commercial.

That’s it folks – a battery commercial tugged on my heartstrings and it had me thinking:

How…. but why…. BUT HOW?

Well – to put it simply – the brand told me a story I could relate to and the “offering” was humanized as a story… one that depicts batteries as if it were secondary to the narrative. The commercial shared a tale of a father-daughter relationship (with a brand spin) where the battery was just a vehicle to keep their relationship strong.

It wasn’t ground breaking. I mean, the battery is simply doing its job. However, the brand connected with people in a way that drove them onto social media to comment because it resonated with them emotionally.

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*BOOM* a brand humanization strategy is born.

“Consumers want experiences. Not things.”

As marketers, we are now selling to the “experiential consumer” – the person who buys the product experience rather than just the product itself.

In an Ad Age article titled, Not Just Millennials: Consumers Want Experiences, Not Things”, Brian Schultz indicates how experiences are how our consumers are now defining themselves, and on social media channels specifically. With this notion, Schultz says “With this backdrop of shifts in how consumers spend their money, it follows that marketing budgets should shift, too”.

Take your kitchen table for instance. When you were procuring your table, did you consider the purchase journey or did you just look for something practical at a reasonable price? Sometimes it is hard to separate the hype of the product experience over the fact that some people are just buying sh*t simply because it is a necessity, it’s available and it is practical.

Roughly the same time this commercial launched (and not by coincidence) Leon’s furniture developed an ad to tap into a humanized perspective of how consumers view their furniture as part of their family.

The slogan rings, “Leon’s furniture is more than just a piece of furniture – it’s a part of the family”. This ad spot parallels the family couch with nostalgic references through memorable moments that sound like the start of the “perfect dad” manual. Instead of the messaging being about the kickass dad, they pan to the couch. They humanized the couch to sound like a father figure. *Sigh*

It’s rather remarkable commercials like this hold such weight against our emotional intelligence, and it truly shows a shift in product advertisement. Products are no longer marketed as functional objects with practical uses, but rather as an authentic story that sparks the emotionally intelligent consumer to react.

Appealing to the emotions

In the article, “Emotional Branding and the Emotionally Intelligent Consumer”Christie Barakat mentions there are major critics who believe brands take advantage of consumers’ emotional intelligence in order to elevate their product amongst the clutter.

Often, large brands like Nike use emotional archetypes that ‘tap into universal feelings’ in order to create a relationship between brand and consumer. Barakat goes on to say that marketers, “…should not limit their appeals to emotions only. These types of affective strategies might appeal to those with lower consumer emotional intelligence, but marketers risk losing a segment of their potential market without a cognitive element in their message”.

Developing a humanized strategy doesn’t mean placing puppies in every scene, or hiring Hilary Swank to play the ‘sad mom’ in your internet commercial *cough* to play with the emotional intelligence of your customer. The optimal strategy, as Barakat puts it, would be a balanced mix of both cognitive and affective messaging.

By simply adding uncomplicated elements to your current media channels, you can allow your customers to experience your brand – and most importantly – navigate it emotionally.