… without necessarily showing your face
When I started out Our Millennials Today’s website and instagram account, I had but one criteria: I didn’t want my communication to revolve around myself. Not only do I get bored of reading/listening egocentric content, but – more importantly –, my media’s main aim is to be a platform to pass-on other’s stories. This to present the diversity of our life paths and to fuel my fellow lost millennials in their own introspective journeys. As a content creator, this pledge implied producing anonymous content. Or, at least, that’s what I was willing to do. And, well, up to date, Iv’e only shown my face once on my instagram.
However, I struggled a bit when the « humanize your brand » craze came around. Indeed, how might one humanize an anonymous content?
Well, this is exactly what I wanted to discuss today since I’ve maintained my first wish
why humanize my brand?
First things first. You might wonder « Why should I worry about this? A brand is not a person »
Well… yes and no.
Think of humanization as cultivating your personality. And interacting with a human usually builds trust, which is a strong buying consideration in today’s world – along with authenticity. Furthermore, it can also drive loyalty if there’s « a good feeling ». This is essentially why micro-influence is booming VS. mainstream ones formerly used as a reference. Much like our social circles with the pandemic, our buying circle seems to have shrunk.
But what’s implied in this « humanizing » thing?
1/ it’s knowing who you are and what you thrive for that makes you connect (or not) with certain people (your customers)
2/ conveying emotions, opinions and even sometimes questions breaks the « sleek image » – maybe robotic – people have of your brand
3/ as every personality, there are nuances to each character trait, so you’re free to draw a line where you find it suited
So, let’s see together some ways you can infuse this into your brand strategy.
tell your story, show your people
As I said in the introduction, you don’t need to go all in to humanize your brand. A good first step can be having a good « about » page (if we’re talking about a website), post·s or stories highlight (on Instagram) telling your story. If you feel like putting some pictures of your – and your colleagues if you’re working with people – this is even better for people to put a – human – face on your products or services.
Writing about your WHY – see Sinek’s TED talk –, your core values and mission statement embed in your « personal » context can also be a good way to incarnate your brand.
build a strong tone of voice
In my case, this is the most developed features of our millennials today’s brand-assets.
A tone of voice encapsulates many essential aspects of your brand. It’s supposed to convey your values to your public while being recognizable. If your brand were a person, this would be your voice and overall style, letting your personality shine through for others’ to relate (or not) to you.
Once you come up with a « tone chart », you should use it whenever you get the opportunity. In your social media posts, your mails, your signature etc. you name it! The goal here is for anyone discovering your content to quickly dive into your universe – and stand out in the crowed.
This can be achieved through some simple actions like: naming your community members, coming up with a special metaphor and infusing it in your content, using formal (or chill) language, etc.
When defining this brand aspect, you can also reflect on whether or not you’d like to develop a certain proximity with your target customers. And, if so, to which extend?
Don’t hesitate to share your opinion, and thus humanize your content through presenting the world through your lens.
engage with your audience
The best way for people to know a brand is human is to actually interact with one (or multiple ones). Brands like Burger King – widely known for their punny as witty tone of voice – have recruited many community managers to make sure someone would continuously answer their target customers on social media.
This represents actions like answering to people who comment, taking time to answer your DMs, and why not even putting people in relation! After all, it’s your community, you’ll see some recurrent thematics.
As all tools, there’s a big range to how much you can engage with your community. Indeed, this also allows you to stay close to your (target) customers, be aware of their actual needs and (why not) build your product in public? This trend – first used in tech – is a great way to document your thought process, get quick and real feedback from the people you target. It can be done as a « simple » documentary process, but, for the most advanced, the community can even become an actor in product-building (through polls, focus groups, etc.).
In France, Asphalte or Bonne Gueule use this process with their most faithful customers to continue creating products that fit them (bad pun intended).
Finally, you can also put your most loyal customers (friends?) in the spotlight for the community to relate to them, share their content about you etc. to put a face on your users and create « a crew » made of humans, not random buyers behind their screens.
deliver quality content
This one is obvious, but still.
Delivering quality content is a prerequisite to encourage audience interaction – whether you’re looking for people to debate or else.
show your brand’s backstage
There’s a reason why the documentary about Orelsan called Never show this to anyone buzzed: people love knowing what’s going on behind the scene (bad pun intended). In this case, the fact that the person holding the camera was no other than Orelsan’s little brother certainly added to the story’s virality. This show (in 4 episodes) gives a context to the artist’s background, and thus inspiration.
These glimpses into our content creators’ (or brands’) lives are often well appreciated because it allows us to identify with him/her. Especially if you show moments of your daily life we all go through. In the case of a brand uncorrelated to a human face – like in retail for instance – showing products in the making and the firm’s mundane activity also allows us to better understand the brand. Seeing how the machine works humanizes the creative process as we don’t only consider our end product / service as the brand experience but the whole fabrication.
Moreover, this is also the perfect opportunity to show how you embody your core value.
Of course, if you’re a solopreneur reluctant to show your face on your business brand (as for me in the case of Our Millennials Today), there are many other ways to share on your daily life without doing so. For me it can be: creating memes on my fails and feelings, writing about your personal thoughts/introspection in stories, sharing some accounts that inspired you etc.
And last but not least: don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or share some of your questions, doubts, etc. on your business – to the extend you’re comfy with of course. This also contributes to reminding your customers / audience that you too are human.
If you’re a vocal-friendly person, go for it. Hearing someone’s voice can certainly give a sense of proximity even if you’ve never shown your face in (social media’s) plain sight.
But beware of this one. As a podcaster, I’ve had multiple persons tell me that hearing my voice every 15 days or so is a way to « get to know me » – or at least my social media character. All the more since I don’t script much to keep the conversation flowing. So auditors can get a good overview of my go-to expressions, tics of speech, laugh and awkward silences…. As if I were next to them sipping my coffee next to the pool.
With this you’d think I’d be a vocal freak. Well, it’s pretty much the contrary. I freaking hate having people send me those kind of messages. First, it triggers a sort of weird (social) anxiety that has me procrastinate listening to them – and answering them. Plus, I always feel like people send a vocal when they want to maximise their time – in the subway, walking in the street, etc. – not really focusing on their speech… leaving me on the other end with blurred messages and an unpleasant feeling of having wasted my time.
So as always: nothing is all black and white. I’d say yes to the vocal BUT maybe : ask the person before if it’s ok to send one? And more importantly: make sure the end-user experience is smooth and that s·he feels at ease listening to you. Put yourself in a quiet place, know what you’re going to say and go straight to the point (as if it were a written message)…. and roll!
There you go, I hope you found one or two ideas for your brand. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic in the comments or by mail 🐋
And for the frenchies passing by: I built a 6 weeks program called « Équipe ta piscine » to help you build your MVB (minimum viable brand) so again, feel free to reach out if you’re interested!