Simple steps to humanize your brand

Do you really understand your customer?

I was recently asked what I think about making logos human body parts or making programs have a human mascot or naming businesses after human-like features.

The idea was based on the notion that it’s important for the brand to look and feel human. It’s a tech company. And tech is the opposite of human, so their goal was to make the brand human.

Humans attract humans, after all.

BUT, making your logo a human body part isn’t necessarily humanizing your brand. It’s creating a wow factor. It’s a psyche appeal that makes people stop and look. It’s captivating, and a good first step if they can grab that attention, but what they do next determines how well they make that human to human connection.

Step 1: Captivate

Most of the time we don’t realize that we remember certain products or brands because they are out of the regular. They captivate us.

When you visit the grocery store and as you leave the checkout line, the manager is at the door and says to you ‘Have a blessed day!” with a big smile on his face. You remember that. And it makes you feel good. So you’re going to come back next time you need to get cookies. Or vegetables. Whatever.

In his book, Dave Kerpen writes how he makes an impact with every person he meets every time. And they remember him out of all the people they meet in a day. “People remember me because my response to the most common question is not typical. It only takes two words.” His two-word response to “Hi, how are you?” is “I’m fantastic!”

This is captivating because it makes the person you’re communicating with have to ask why. What was so fantastic about your day when everyone else they asked the same question just said “good”? The conversation that follows this captivating moment determines whether you connect with them at a human level.

Remember when Danica Patrick sponsored GoDaddy? Dubbed the most memorable campaign the company ever ran. GoDaddy is a very techie company. A simple domain registrar. How the heck could they humanize their brand? Well, they did it by being captivating an audience and then capitalizing by driving them to their website to continue the conversation. They combined humor with sexy Danica Patrick and sparked curiosity.

People everywhere were asking, “What is GoDaddy? Why is sexy Danica Patrick on their ads? What is a domain registrar?” The curiosity drove people to find out more. GoDaddy successfully connected their brand to millions of people. And once those people landed on the website and learned Why they were there, they became potential customers. GoDaddy understands their customers.

Back to the body part logo, let’s say it’s a toe. A toe means different things to different people. Maybe someone hates feet, but would certainly buy your products. Or someone hates your product but loves toes. What effect does this have on purchase or human connection? None yet.

If you can captivate people and then appeal to their emotion, they’re much more likely to remember you and to make a purchase from you.

A lot of companies fail with their logo because they don’t understand it’s just an icon, a symbol of what they stand for. It’s more than logos and a name. It’s more than the captivating moment, however effective it is. It’s your message that follows. It’s ongoing conversation to draw them in closer. To become a friend. A comrade. Humanizing your brand is about communication and appealing to their emotion.

Step 2: Appeal to emotion

In the toe logo, it’s not emotional. Not yet anyways. Remember this Dodge Ram truck commercial? That commercial tugged at my emotions. It made me feel like I am a part of the lifestyle that comes with the truck. I’m tough. I’m a man. I have guts. I want glory. I want that truck.

Dodge appealed to emotion through their messaging. It touched on the Why, not just What [the truck]. And they sold a lot of trucks. Dodge understands their customers. The truck wasn’t even showed until the end, especially not their logo. It was all about the people and connecting with who these people were. They related first and then sold second.

The toe company needs a way to get their message to people. Their logo cannot provide direction and real emotional appeal. Which is why companies will turn to advertising to do this. If you’re trying to communicate in your ad and your logo is a toe, then maybe your ad talks about feet, but not really about the product. Make your audience laugh. Bring their guard down. And then share the message near the end or in a follow up ad. The logo should be subtle and add to the captivating video.

Or you can captivate them with a funny ad and then give them a website to visit. Once they’re on your website, that’s your chance to start communicating a bit deeper — just like GoDaddy did with their audience.

This is how the toe logo can start to humanize their brand, with marketing and a solid message attached to it. Your messaging and brand value are attached to the logo.

Your logo represent that message, but your logo is not your message.

That’s why logos come at the end of ads, not at the beginning. That’s why the iPhone gets introduced in the middle or at the end of the commercial. It’s all about the people first. They are taking pics and having experiences with a product. Then before leaving you buried in emotional appeal, the clean Apple logo appears and then fades away. Advocates are created. Brand ambassadors. Product lovers. Loyal customers.

Step 3: Humanize

What Apple, Dodge Ram and GoDaddy have in common is that they all understand their customers very well. You can’t pull on emotions without this understanding. When you understand your customer and can share a message that resonates and connect with them at a deeper level, then you’re humanizing your brand.

What makes the iPhone and the new Ram truck different was that they are more than products. They are an extension of people’s lives. GoDaddy is just another product. And their message confirmed that. All of them worked. Would GoDaddy be more widely used if their message made it to be an extension of people’s lives? No. That’s not what is. That’d be a disconnect. They didn’t need that. They just needed to get people to the site and they could capitalize. Apple and Dodge needed more.

Think beyond video. It’s the same with email marketing. Email is still the most effective way to build an audience. Why? Because it’s communication at a personal level. The more they open up and the more emotional they become towards you, the more they will remember you and your brand. And the closer you are relating to them. That’s called trust. And the more of it, the more likely they are to become a lifelong customer.

It doesn’t matter the medium or the tactic, it all happens the same way. Be human.

Back to the toe brand. It’s not a bad idea. It’s just incomplete. Making the brand human should not be based solely off of look, surely not solely based off a logo. It has to add feeling. And should be based on emotion and connecting with their customers’ lifestyles. It’s not human until it connects with humans.


If this resonates with you, please push recommend. I heart you too!

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.