Don’t make your brand a person, people buy from REAL people…

With the growth of social media in recent years there has been a real movement towards ‘making brands more human’ and giving them a ‘human face’…

Recent research by Firefly Millward Brown suggests that this is what consumers want and that brands should behave more like ‘a friend than a company’. Huggies certainly feel this is the case, they want to use social media to give the brand a more human touch and The Next Web are even giving tips on how to be a ‘human in social media’.

So time to give your brand a human face all over twittubeface right? Nah, forget it… I am not saying don’t use social tools and I am certainly not saying that these tools are not an essential part of today’s marketing, PR and customer service tool set, they are, and you have to learn the rules of engagement that are appropriate to your community, generally that does mean avoiding PR speak and corporate language. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t waste your time by trying to make your brand behave like a “friend” or even like a person.

Why not? Well brands are just not people… People are people. More importantly there is an old saying from my telesales days that rings true here: ‘People buy from people’, and it is true, people don’t buy from brands impersonating people, they buy from real life, flesh and blood people who actually exist and no matter how much you attach human characteristics and ideals to your brand it will never be any more than a corporate construct, never a friend, never a person. Sure you and even some of your customers will apply vaguely human characteristics to your brand, but they won’t make it a human.

So leave it alone, don’t try to make the brand a human, it just won’t work. Instead focus on empowering your people, who actually exist in flesh and blood, to be your ambassadors online. These can be the PR guys, the marketing guys, customer service or anyone else who may be up for it… Let these people talk to other people online and offline, let them tell their real, human, stories  and spread the good word.

When companies try to apply human characteristics to a brand they often end up trying to hard and so they get something that seems disingenuous, that is very bad!

Brands need to gain a human face by using real humans, not by creating a disingenuous ‘personality’. But what does this mean in practical terms? Well here are a few thoughts on how to empower your employees:

  • Don’t ever think of your brand as a person, it isn’t one, don’t try to make it one either
  • Write blogs in the first person, be a named author and explain who you are
  • Sign off tweets with your initials and name yourself in the bio so everyone knows the face behind the corporate twitter account
  • Same stuff on Facebook and any other network you use
  • Give some clear, simple and common sense guidelines to the business and let everyone get involved – encourage your employees to talk directly to your customers

Remember what I have said before, Word of Mouth begins at home! But that is just me, what do you think?


One response to “Don’t make your brand a person, people buy from REAL people…

  1. I don’t agree with this, well – not in every case, anyway. I would say that some brands should stay away from adding too much of personalised touch, but definitely not all.

    I took over a presence that had very few followers, no personality and just stuck to advertising the brand. It’s now had a complete turn around because *I* became the brand. I threw myself into the audience, put myself in their position, lived & breathed the brand, used competitors and I was transparent. Followers shot up, replies increased by a huge amount and coverage starting flowing in, resulting in more money for the brand.

    As I said, it doesn’t work for some brands, but I think you’re wrong when you say it doesn’t work at all.

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