Just because your brand is all things digital these days, it doesn’t mean your job is done. Here’s how your brand can make real connections in this digital world.
Changes towards the world ‘going virtual’ were very much underway pre 2020. The effects of the past year have just meant that we’ve all got there faster than ever envisaged. Every successful brand now lives online, and if it doesn’t, well, its days are surely numbered.
But just because you’ve gone digital doesn’t mean your job is done. The move online will have eliminated many face-to-face interaction opportunities for brands, and although a smiley emoji does a good job of representing an emotion, it will never replace how an actual smile can make a consumer feel.
So, now you need to ensure that your ‘bot’ actually sounds like somebody, like an actual human with a heart and blood pumping through ‘its’ veins. You need to make sure your interface has a ‘face’ that looks like it can be trusted, and that your market values and resonates with your brand’s values.
That’s where the new challenge lies. And it’s a tough one, as it requires you to dissect your brand’s DNA, and think about ‘who’ it really is, what it stands for, and what makes it different. Here are three suggestions that can help.
Just because your market will be viewing your brand from a device, doesn’t mean it should sound like a machine. Your brand’s personality should shine through in all the interactions you have with your consumers, whether that be in a print ad, on social media or via an emailer.
Like your brand has a logo and a specific colour palette, so it should have a tone of voice. Think about Nike – always positive, inspiring and motivational. Pushing people to do their best. Your brand’s tone should be unique to you, and reflect your personality, express your values and reveal your point of view.
Having a tone of voice (TOV) your audience can relate to helps build trust and enhances your brand’s credibility building that all-important brand love. Get your audience to buy into your tone, and they’re more likely to buy what you’re selling.
2. Just do you
‘Authentic’ must surely be 2021s marketing word of the year, and unlike ‘pivot’ and ‘unprecedented’, I think this one will be here to stay. According to an annual global survey conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics, 82% of Gen Z trusts a company more if the images they use in their ads are of actual customers.
Let’s be honest, an audience knows when they’re being sold to, and they can spot a brand jumping on the trend bandwagon from a mile away. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of photoshop, but keep it believable and true to your company’s values. If your spokesperson is 40, they more than likely have a wrinkle, or two. Don’t alienate your audience by removing it.
Humans often make mistakes, and if you want your brand to have the human touch, own up to your brand’s mistakes, make fun of yourself, tell real stories that your audience can relate to, have a point of view and stand up for what you believe in. No human is 100% perfect, like no brand is 100% perfect. So, keep it real. Your fans will appreciate you all the more for it.
3. Be good
The beginning of the pandemic saw multiple brands ‘pivot’ their production lines to make sanitiser for the needy and soup for the poor. Given the newsworthiness of it all, many other me-too brands followed suit soon after, and whilst it showed us that there are businesses that do have hearts, it shouldn’t take a crisis to make them prove it.
Simply put, brands being me-too or same-y, same-y in their CSR endeavours conveys a lack of integrity, something consumers (and especially Gen Zers) don’t tolerate nowadays.
Doing good for the world doesn’t have to cost the earth. Across our global agency we have four Champion Teams which constantly put the spotlight on important matters such as Diversity & Inclusion and Giving Back to ensure we’re doing our bit as a business.
Every little action counts, so, if your brand is in the position to, then put your core values into practice and do some good for the world. And not because you think it will help you sell more products, get you more ‘likes’, or because it’s tax deductible. Do it because any good person would, and in doing so know that giving back feels good. Brands with a genuine appetite to give back, or to work towards a healthy, sustainable future, are those that now stand out.
So, What now?
As the world becomes ever more digital, the chance for real-life human interaction is going to become less, even with lockdowns lifting, so brands will have fewer opportunities to influence their audiences. But humans are driven by emotion. The ability to feel. The need to feel part of something greater. So when you do get the opportunity to engage, talk to your audience on their level, be authentic and make them feel genuine love for your brand.
Humanising your brand is by no means an easy task. A personality is highly complex, and likewise creating a clear persona for your brand will require strong direction and creative flair. But what a great opportunity to really look at its DNA and establish ‘who’ it really is (something we can always help you with ;). Get it right, give it the ‘human touch’ and you’ll still be making real connections in this digital world. A little something we’re all longing for these days.