How to be a Brand People Want to Hang Out With

In 2017, people interact with their favorite brands in the same ways they connect with their best friends. Before you roll your eyes, just take a second to really think about it…

  • We follow our favorite brands on Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat. And we double tap that like button as soon as we see their photos pop up in our feed.
  • We exchange contact info to keep in touch via email, phone, and even text.
  • Everyone knows which brands are closest to our hearts because we’re always snapping selfies with them to share on our social media platforms.
  • The brands we surround ourselves with say a lot about who we are as individuals. Who do you ask for a ride to the airport, Uber or Lyft? If you’re in the market for a good shave, are you talking to Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club? Do you trust Waze to give you directions or is Google Maps your go-to guy?

Our deep connections with the brands we champion isn’t a new phenomenon; it is just more obvious in today’s tech-savvy world. So why do these relationships between humans and brands form? Well, according to science, human beings are hardwired to connect. And that compulsion extends into the brands we choose to include in our daily lives.

Of course, this means that we don’t make deep connections with just any brand. The vetting process is just as rigorous as the one we use when deciding whether or not to bring someone into our inner circle.

It’s not enough for a brand to just look cool, anymore. These days, we judge brands based on their social, ethical, and moral values. Hell, the recent Pepsi fiasco with Kendall Jenner showed us the risk a brand takes when it plays fast and loose with hot topics and current events.

And just as we hold our friends accountable to the promises they make, we expect the brands we support to walk their talk.

So, how does a brand become one that people want to hang out with? Think about your best friends and the great qualities they bring to the friendship table. Those same qualities are likely to be the same we find in the brands we love best. Here are some of the characteristics we’ve identified about the brands we’d hang out with if we could:

1. They don’t make everything about themselves.

Like a good friend, brands don’t spend all of their time talking about themselves, their hobbies, and their problems without letting us get a word in edgewise.

And they definitely aren’t flooding our feeds with annoying sales pitches, either.

We all know someone like this, and it’s interesting how their invitations to our parties always seem to get lost on the way to their inbox…

Instead, the brands we appreciate listen just as much as they talk, taking a real interest in what their audience has to share.

Take Mozilla, for example. Recently, they made an open call for help in designing their new logo, putting the future of the brand in the hands of their supporters. The response to the project was huge, and more people engaged with Mozilla than ever before. They also got a clever new logo out of the deal.

2. They’re up to speed with what’s happening in the universe.

The brands we have the most fun interacting with are the ones that keep up with what’s going on in the world.

In celebration of June’s Pride Month, MeUndies’ launched their “Celebrate Yourself” campaign, releasing a special pair of undies they designed specifically for the campaign. They got celebrities, influencers, and well known bloggers involved to spread their message, and each pair they sold directly benefited the LA LGBT Center to the tune of a $1 donation. Together, the MeUndies community was able to call attention to and support a great cause, and they had a blast while they did it.

(images courtesy of MeUndies)

3. They keep it real.

We expect our best friends to tell us the truth 100% of the time, even if those truths are hard to swallow. If we can’t trust our friends to tell us when our fly is down or the person we’re dating is a jerk, then who can we trust in this big, bad world?

The brands we want to associate with are always honest and transparent, providing us with insight into why they make the decisions that they do. A good friend wouldn’t keep us in the dark, and neither would a solid brand.

Southwest Airlines embraces this idea of honesty in their recent “Transfarency” campaign, which showcases their dedication to keeping their fares low and their passengers informed.

Where other airlines might try to nickel and dime their customers with hidden fees and surprise charges, Southwest’s “transfarency” has solidified them as a leading airline, and their campaign has already earned more than 5 million “likes” on Facebook.

The “We’re Sorry for Sucking” campaign Domino’s launched back in 2009 is another example of how honesty is usually the best policy when it comes to regaining the trust and loyalty of your audience. After hearing the resounding negative feedback of their pies in focus groups and on social media, Domino’s met their criticism head on and revamped their recipes to meet the demands and desires of the pizza-loving people who hated their original pizzas.

On the heels of that campaign, they gained a whopping 9% of the market share. Based on national taste test results, 3 out of 5 people now prefer Domino’s pizza over Papa John’s and Pizza Hut’s. That’s a comeback story if we ever heard one.

If you want to learn more about what makes a brand slick enough to sit at the cool kids table, shoot us an email. We’ve worked with a number of these awesome brands, and we’d love to talk about what we’ve learned from them.

Reach us at hello@herman-scheer.com