Consumers have a hard time trusting brands. And it’s no surprise, really, as a lot of companies live up to the reputation of lifeless money-making machines that care only about profits.
Yet consumer trust is very important for brands. In fact, more than one in three consumers say that their trust in a brand is one of the three main factors when deciding whether to shop from a certain retailer. So what can you do to convince people that your brand is trustworthy?
The best approach is, obviously, to demonstrate that your business is not a lifeless money-making machine, and one of the most effective ways to do it is to show its friendly, helpful, authentic human side. It’s difficult for people to trust faceless, uptight businesses using worn-out phrases that serve only for promotional purposes or mean nothing at all. People are more inclined to believe someone they understand and relate to, and this can only be a human or a brand that knows how to be human. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to achieve this.
Put a Human Face On
One of the approaches you can take is to show the literal human side of your company. Showing photos or videos of your employees doing their work and engaging in everyday activities can help you seem like a company that values its workers and human relationships in general.
Of course, it’s very important that you show your real employees doing real stuff, not just type in “corporate people happy” at a stock photo site, download the first photo that comes up and post it on your website. So no stock photos – the point is to put a human face on your business, not to put a mask on it.
Also, don’t force your team to become your brand promoters. Instead, give them the treatment that will make them want to post about your company on their social accounts. People can tell if your employees are genuinely happy or it’s their job to convince everyone they’re happy at work.
Take a look at how Nerd Fitness did this. They’ve posted some great photos and stories, especially on their About page. You can see a lot of their coaches and clients in real-world situations, actually smiling and having fun, which is a very different approach compared to most fitness brands. In this case, the courage to do things differently from all the others has definitely paid off.
Write With Character
Nevertheless, it’s not enough to just show photos of humans around in order to properly humanize your brand. Apart from a human body, your brand needs a human soul as well.
This is something your marketing team will have to take care of. The way you address your customers and audience can make a world of difference in how consumers perceive your brand. Use your website, your social media, and all your other channels to write and speak like a human being – not like a chatbot or a self-proclaimed business/marketing expert that’s never experienced life outside the office.
People simply can’t relate to that, and they often don’t even understand what you’re saying, which can only make them anxious and irritable. So try being authentic, down-to-earth, and accessible. Don’t be afraid to insert a joke or two when it’s appropriate, and even have a bit of a laugh at your own expense. Even the most serious people aren’t serious all the time, so why should brands be?
A number of corporate giants have adopted this strategy recently, so more and more brands are now using jokes or memes to boost engagement and build brand loyalty. We’ve seen Taco Bell, Netflix, Skittles, Old Spice, and many others loosening up a bit and going for a less rigid approach to social media marketing with occasional jokes and gags.
Build a Community
The importance of quality interaction with your audience can’t be overstated. Building an active online community around your brand is a long and difficult journey, but it pays off long-term.
Providing a platform for people to discuss and connect is far from enough – you’ll need to work hard to engage your audience and make them interested enough to participate. You can do that by posting intriguing, helpful stories and encouraging them to comment. Here it’s very important to carefully choose your admin or moderator or whoever speaks for your brand in this case. It has to be someone polite, accessible, knowledgeable, sharp, and original. Let people know they’re interacting with a human being, not a mediocre software.
For some industries, this is the most convenient way to show their human side. Take Aura, for instance, which is an Amazon repricing software. This is a branch of business that entails very little human involvement. In fact, its point is to reduce human involvement, so humanizing a brand of this sort may be a little tricky. That’s why Vendrive, the company behind Aura, decided to start an “Amazon FBA wholesale” Facebook group in which more than 10,000 members from around the world can connect, ask for help or share their experiences.
Utilize User-Generated Content
If you already have a decently developed community, encouraging users to create and post their content can be very useful. It shows that you’re open, welcoming, and that you consider your customers to be more than money spenders. By letting them contribute to content creation, you’re suggesting that you really think of them as equals who actively participate in the life of your company.
When it comes to user-generated content, very few brands do it better than Glossier. They started a “Glossier in real life” initiative, where their customers upload their photos after using Glossier products to show them in action. This way, real-life people become real-life faces of their brand and, in addition, the company has a perfect chance to show what their products actually look like.
Be Helpful and Attentive
There isn’t that much to say about this one. Just… be helpful, even if there are no short-term benefits in it for you. Don’t just say “we care,” because all companies say so and nobody believes them. As much as 46% of US consumers think that one of the reasons to trust a brand is if it has always treated the customers and others well. But very few brands seem to take this seriously.
That’s why you need to show that you care. There are many ways to do this – whether it’s flawless customer service, charity work, or a regular dose of industry-related tips and insights you’ll upload to your website multiple times a week.
Savvy Sleeper is a great example of a company that does this well. Being an affiliate site in the sleep niche they post regular articles about sleep health. Providing detailed informational content demonstrates that they’re not only focused on making money, but also about helping people stay healthy and well-rested.
The Power of Personalization
You can also show people that you care by putting some effort into personalizing their experience. Today, 80% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that offer this sort of experience, so the business benefits of this approach are indisputable.
The trick with personalization is that it creates the impression that brands are directly addressing particular consumers. There are no generic offers and no content that’s obviously provided by a faceless software.
Indeed, most personalized experiences are also software-driven, but the very vibe they create is different. It looks like you’re dealing with a human sales assistant that really cares about your needs, which can result in an almost personal connection between a consumer and a brand.
Ultimate Meal Plans knows the importance of customizing an offer so that it suits people with very different needs. They offer several different healthy meal plans based on the user’s specific requirements. This approach will give your prospects what they want, while at the same time giving you a chance to attract more people to try your product or service.
All in all, brand humanization is a long, gradual process that means much more than employing a few simple tricks to make your brand more appealing and lovable.
Brand humanization has to be done thoroughly in order to produce results. You’ll need company culture and an overall business philosophy that will make all executives and employees have the same thing on their minds all the time – how to be respectful, helpful, accessible, and how to nurture an authentic human relationship with consumers.