A brand is not a logo, colors, fancy tag line, or even a fancy Super Bowl commercial. A brand is not your Facebook Page cover video, Twitter background or set of beautifully designed Pinterest boards or images on your Instagram profile.
The truth is your brand is all of these things and more. It’s what you tweet, post, pin, +1 and offer as a call to action. It’s what you write in emails, and what you don’t , it’s whether you talk about yourself all day on Facebook or if you offer real value.
The Living, Breathing, Human Brand
The human brand is much like a living, breathing organism - its true definition is determined by those that love, like or even dislike you. A brand is made up of humans within your organization, and finally, defined by those outside your organization.
You can’t create a brand with a robot or algorithm. Yes, you can use data, analytics, research and more as inputs to develop your brand, your brand promise, core messages, vision and mission. Yet, it’s people that select the final colors and tagline, it’s humans who post the status updates, and it’s humans who read them.
On average it takes a minimum of 6-7 brand touches for someone to remember your brand, and it takes an additional 10-13 touches to mitigate and improve one bad brand impression or experience. As such, you need to make every touch count.
The sooner you can acknowledge the importance of becoming a human brand, and the need to truly inspire and connect with your audiences, the sooner you'll see results, and progress as you integrate social media into the DNA of your organization.
Below are 13 characteristics of the human brand. I could write 100 of these, because you can’t simply define a human nor a human brand in a short list of characteristics. However, here are 13 straightforward characteristics of human brands. If you're wondering what human brands do and think this is a good place to start.
13 Characteristics of the Human Brand
1. Think like humans
You may be thinking that brands can’t think. Well, yes they can. Human brands have people on the inside that think like humans, they don’t think like a cash register or corporate building. They think about things that human beings do, eat, like and believe.
2. Care about humans
They care about the humans they engage with. They care if they're happy, sad, satisfied, frustrated, hungry or full. They care about their needs, wants, problems, desires, and offering them real value, not just nonsense marketing tactics. It matters to them that they're cared for. They care about all the people in their ecosystem from customers to board of directors, and they keep them at the front of all decisions.
3. Value relationships
Human brands value people more than dollar signs - they're not willing to trade a dollar for relationships gone bad. They know that investing in people is the only way, and that relationships are both the cake and the icing of business and personal or professional success. You won't see the human brand buying fake engagement on Instagram, or fake Twitter follower and Facebook fans. They value real human to human interaction and authentic relationships.
4. Listen to other humans
Human brands listen more than they talk - they speak when they need to speak but always have an ear to how their audience, clients, partners and stakeholders respond. They know their Google Analytics and other website data and analytics is a gold mine, and they use the data to listen and learn about their audience, not only to convert the transaction to a sale.
5. Talk like humans
Human brands don’t talk like robots or corporate collateral - they speak in language that other humans read, listen to and understand.
6. Have a personality
What's your brand personality? Is it serious? Fun? Engaging? Inspiring? All of the above? Human brands have a personality that inspires and connects with their audiences.
7. Show their “human”
Right in line with personality, human brands aren’t afraid to let their humanity show. They laugh, giggle, sing, dance, talk, and may even get frustrated sometimes. They often let you see the people behind the avatars as they know they are their own best ambassadors.
8. Make and own their mistakes
No human being is perfect, and as such, no brand is perfect because it's made up and defined by humans. Human brands are humble. They make mistakes just like you and me, and they aren’t afraid to own it..
9. Are available
Are you available when your online or offline audience wants you to be? Do you respond to questions in a timely manner? Are you even available to answer questions, or do you hide behind a corporate web form and fill your Twitter and Facebook stream with corporate speak? Human brands make themselves available. Even if they aren’t available 24/7 they let their audience know when they are present.
10. Know themselves
They know who they are and what they offer their customers, partners, online community and friends. They know their strengths, weaknesses and sweet spots. They know how to talk, listen and what makes them shine. They don’t guess what to post or pin, as they engage in social with confidence and pride.
11. Know their audience
Just as they know themselves, they also know their audience. They know what their audience wants and how to provide it. They know how to inspire them, connect with them and help them achieve their goals. They know if they inspire, connect and help their audience achieve their goals that they will by default achieve their goals as well.
Human brands don't sit static - they evolve. Because they're always learning - listening more than talking - they're able to move with agility. They don’t have to jump on every shiny new object, they're able to jump with confidence at the right time. This offers them an extreme level of competitive differentiation, as those brands who aren't in touch with their audience, who aren’t listening, and are not focused on the goals and objectives of their audience have difficulty saying no to shiny objects as they’re always looking for the next best thing to magically bring them success. Human brands evolve with confidence and agility combined.
13. Invest in people
Human brands know that they can never go wrong by investing in people. They invest in listening, learning, training, empowering, building teams and creating a culture which enables their brand to shine from the inside out.
“Culture eats strategy for lunch”
Even though I'm a strong believer of strategy, I agree - without investing in culture and the people, both internal and external brands can’t be human.
Is your brand human and designed to appeal to people, as opposed to algorithms? Do you wish there was more humanity in your approach? What's your favorite human brand? What is it that attracts them to you? Is it the way they talk, think, act, or simply everything about them?
Consider these questions when looking to optimize your strategic approach.
A version of this post was first published on Pam Moore's blog.