Injecting Humanity into a Brand

In today’s online world, everyone could use a little more humanity. When the first social media platforms emerged, they enabled people to “find their tribe.” But today, the goal of social media has shifted to become a never-ending “highlight reel” of self-promotion.  

Even though individual social media users are equally guilty of the same offenses that companies commit… they are still considered more trustworthy. Why? Because the posting is labeled with a human avatar rather than a brand’s logo. Brands, it’s time to stop with the robotic messaging and undergo some serious humanization.

3 Important Elements of Brand Humanization: 

Every brand should have a mission, a vision, a set of values, and most importantly: a personality. These are the building blocks to a brand identity. Once this identity is established, people can see a human quality in a brand.

Be yourself (or rather, your brand’s self)

Most recently, Wendy’s nailed the personality piece of the “brand identity” puzzle when they took a unique approach to customers heckling the brand on its social media profiles. 

Since the brand made the switch from diplomatic/robotic to sarcastic/witty, the internet has erupted with applause. 

Successful manifestation of brand voice harkens back to when Arby’s tweeted at Pharrell and instantly went viral. Or when Arby's fully disclosed a contractual obligation to feature Pepsi in two commercials a year:

What all of these examples have in common is that the marketing team at the brands decided to let themselves be human without going overboard. 

Practice what you preach

Most companies purport to be built on a value system. Some convey their brand as “prioritizing their people” by posting pictures of their employees having fun at the office on Instagram. Others convey their value of “helping the community” by participating in charitable initiatives. 

ModCloth did something a little different. Instead of using traditional models to showcase their new swimsuit line, they shot photos of actual company employees wearing ModCloth apparel.

These promotional pictures were truly worth a thousand words. On the surface, these pictures said:

  • Any body type looks good in our clothing.

  • Any ethnicity looks good in our clothing.

Most advertisers would be happy with this message, but because these photos were actual employees, they communicated even more:

  • We are a company that wants to help change the status quo without exploiting women.

  • Our company culture revolves around empowering our employees.

  • We have strong values of authenticity and diversity.

It’s easier to have a dialogue with one person rather than everyone, all at once.

Before there were customer service-dedicated Twitter accounts, before social listening became a necessity, before all of that - there was “Famous Frank.”

Way back when, a Comcast customer service rep by the name of Frank Eliason realized that he could bring an element of humanity to Comcast, a brand that ranked at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. He began to interact with bloggers that anonymously bashed Comcast online, offered to listen to the individual complaints, and eventually, used those complaints to drive change within the company.

While all marketers want to make their brand more relatable, few understand the concept of how to execute. Ironically, it’s not robots writing the social media posts for brands, it’s people who just haven’t gotten it right. 


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