Humanized Branding: Five Ways Marketers Can Strike the Right Tone

Your brand isn't an inanimate object that built itself.

Brand brainstorming
Alex from the Rock/

A brand's success lives and dies by the numbers in a data-driven marketing world, but those statistics represent much more than just points on a graph. Behind every click, conversion or purchase is a living, breathing human being, and increasingly, these clients and customers are seeking to connect with a human brand.

The move to humanize brands is not new. However, in this post-COVID-19 society, clients and customers grapple with a global crisis and the continued shifts in their day-to-day lives. As a result, brands have to bring their human side to the forefront to be sensitive to clients' concerns while also meeting their needs.

Humanizing your brand requires nuance. It's easier to shout the same message over and over again without caring about who is listening. Being human requires adapting to each situation.

Here are a few ways to step up to the challenges that it brings.

Acknowledge Current Events

One of the easiest ways to humanize your brand is to acknowledge when a challenging event occurs in the world. Your customers want to see how you respond to the events that mean the most to them. Is this an issue that you care about, or is it just business as usual? While you don't need to respond to every issue, understand that silence is also a statement. What you decide not to say often rings the loudest in the ears of your audience.

Check Your Tone

If you had just suffered a personal tragedy, how would you respond to someone excitedly bursting into your living room to promote their latest sale? Unfortunately, many brands are just as tone-deaf in their messaging. Consider your audience. If your brand caters largely to an ethnic group or geographic community that has collectively experienced a catastrophe, how do you talk to them? Humanize your brand's voice by thinking about how you would talk to someone you know personally dealing with the same thing. You likely can't offer to come into your client's home and provide in-person support, but you can use a calmer, more compassionate tone in your messaging to show empathy to your customers who need it.

Be Responsive

No one wants to talk to a robot — even when they are talking to a robot. Think about products like Siri and Alexa. Their success hinges on them getting to know your voice and who you are; when you talk to them, they talk back. Your audience also expects this from your brand. Your customers want you to be accessible and interactive on your different platforms, so make sure you engage with them wherever you are.

Be Authentic

Customers are savvy. They can tell when a brand is exploiting a situation for financial gain. Don't underestimate your audience by trying to appease them while simultaneously thinking of how you can use every event, painful or otherwise, for your company's benefit. Keep your brand's messaging and actions consistent with your brand's values so that your customers know what to expect from you and come to believe in you as a result.

Operate with Empathy

Many of your customers are dealing with stress, pain and even devastation from this past year. People are spending more time online interacting with brands while simultaneously being more sensitive to the world's events. Your brand will need to operate with more compassion and sensitivity than may have been previously necessary. It may require more work, but just like your human personality is flexible enough to adjust, your brand personality should be capable of the same.

Your brand isn't an inanimate object that built itself. Your audience is human, and so are you and your team. Humanizing your brand becomes much less challenging when you understand that your brand is human. It is a living, breathing vehicle created by people who live in the same world and deal with the same joys, fears and frustrations as the customers it serves. Once you make the mind shift from "brand to customer" to "human to human," brand humanization simply becomes a reflection of that reality and something you can accomplish with relative ease.

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