That’s right, it’s time to get real. I’m not talking real as in reality TV, I’m talking real as in down-to-earth, honest, unbiased approaches. The type of advertisements that put aside all fakeness and dive into what it’s all about. So what is it really all about? Well that depends on your brand. One thing that registers with any brand’s audience is the ability to humanize. Customers are looking for that connection, they’re looking for a brand to be real and honest with them about how their product will work for them. How do you build that type of connection? In order to humanize with your audience you have to humanize across all channels, that means digital and traditional. Being consistent builds credibility and credibility means lifelong customers. This is especially important in the social media realm where brands have to show they’re being real.
Buzzfeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti talks about the transition from the “portal-and-search era” to the social sharing era http://bit.ly/JV7eiy. Today customers are looking for content they can share, and for them to want to share it the content has to evoke an emotional response. In order to evoke an emotional response brands need to use emotional intelligence. By placing yourself in the position of someone reading it for the first time, you can picture their reaction, whether they would share it or not and how it makes them look sharing it. A positive reaction that triggers a share? You win. Shareen Pathak shares “Five Tips for Building Your Brand’s Social Personality” http://bit.ly/JXTlxd. Noah Brier’s second tip especially plays into the humanize concept, as it focuses on maintaining a balance between selling and non-selling messages. Brier turns that into an analogy of stock and flow with stock being the selling messages and flow being the non-selling messages. He states stock attracts customers and flow keeps them engaged. You have to have a good balance of both and one without the other won’t cut it. The non-selling messages are what humanize the brand and the selling messages are necessary elements. Not that selling messages can’t be humanizing, but that’s typically the way it goes.
Then there’s the traditional side of things, commercials and like fare. Kunur Patel notes AT&T’s recent strategy is to humanize their brand, as they’ve found customers like their phones but not their carriers http://bit.ly/K3eV4y. In an attempt to close that gap they’ve strayed from the traditional speed of network and coverage area tactics that carriers typically tout. Instead, their most recent commercial portrays the usage value of their phones and the services they offer. It shows how a woman’s phone is her means to tell the entire world she got a new acting role. Communicating the usage value of AT&T’s phones and services gives their “Rethink possibility” message a whole new meaning. One that makes customers take a second look at what AT&T is all about. Another way brands are humanizing through traditional media is by using real people in their ads instead of celebrities. Lucia Moses explains the pitfalls and pluses of having celebrities behind your brand http://bit.ly/IsNUch. A bad phase in a celebrity’s life can damage a brand’s reputation and a celebrity is not as believable as a real person. Yet when stricter moral clauses are applied, reality stars are included in the definition of celebrity, and the instant-recognition factor is needed, using celebrities can be effective. To use a celebrity or not? It all depends on the brand and the purpose, but overall the industry is trending towards using real people more often to humanize and be relatable.
Sometimes advertising can seem fake. Advertising’s past, and some of the present, too often gets caught up presenting ideal portrayals that don’t resonate. Why don’t they resonate? Because they aren’t reality. If customers can’t relate and see the brand as accessible to their lives and lifestyle then it’s a loss. That’s why the ability to humanize your brand, and its message, is invaluable. Brands must adapt to an ever-changing customer base, and today’s customers crave brands that understand them and resemble them. To agonize is to paralyze, but to harmonize is to humanize.