“Your brand needs to be human.” We see this everywhere these days. But what does that mean? Essentially, it means transforming an indiscernible business into an identifiable brand that communicates with people in meaningful ways that build advocacy and drive action. And at BMV, we agree with the notion that success is predicated on one’s ability to breathe life into their patchwork of ideas, products, and services and transform them into a bonafide brand.
However, we still must ask: why do our businesses need to be “human”?
As recently as 30 years ago, companies had the customer at their mercy. There were still untapped markets, and the internet phenomenon that’s given rise to unprecedented drivers of competition was still a ways away. For that and other reasons, they could do business the way they wanted and never have to worry about turning a profit. Today, things are different. And for startups, with over 100 million of them opening each year, things are different.
In 2015, the customer has complete control. With seemingly as many companies as there are people, it’s easier than ever to match our individuality with the companies we do business with. Looking to buy clothes made from hemp, from a company that gives a percentage of their proceeds to homeless children or one advocating for LGBT rights? Just do a quick Google search. Because of this ability to be ultra-selective, companies have been forced to find better ways to connect. And the only way to really connect with a customer is to do so in a way that feels “human”.
Understanding the importance of your business being human is a good first step. But if we take a look deeper and explore the “why” a bit more, we can take our brand humanity to the next level. So, where do we turn? Perhaps, the answer can be found in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The stuff that drives us and makes us who we are. In some way or another, all of the sections in the pyramid account for why we want our brands to be human. But one stands out amongst the rest: ESTEEM.
Esteem is the need to feel respected. The typical human desire is to be accepted and valued by others. As a species, we crave respect. And if you’re wondering, we haven’t forgotten that we are communicators, not psychologists. But think about it — who are you more likely to give your hard-earned money to — someone who shows interest in you and your needs or someone who gives little thought to anything but themselves? We want the companies we do business with to be as conscious as the people we surround ourselves with.
Too often, we see brands carpet bombing their audiences with trendy or glitzy content that has been crafted with little regard to the end user’s needs, let alone esteem. More than a few brands are guilty of seeking virality by ripping off goofy concepts from other brands and trying to ride someone else’s wave to success. What works for Dollar Shave Club will not work for everyone. Today’s consumers are intelligent and know when you’re forcing content down their throats. If you want their money, you must first show them respect.
So how do we create content that caters to the esteem of our audience? A good place to start is the H.U.R. test: Helpful. Unique. Relevant. If your content meets these three criteria, then it’s likely going to stroke the esteem of your audience.
As we’ve said before, content that helps is content that sells. Buzzworthy is awesome, and going viral is even better, but if your content isn’t helping your customers, it likely won’t result in more than a blip on the radar. Instead of setting goals in terms of the number of views and shares, aim to provide solutions to the problems your customers are facing. You probably remember the viral video you saw, but there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten the brand behind it.
To quote Queen’s Bridge’s finest, Nasir Jones, “No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun.” And while that may be true, that doesn’t mean you can’t put a new spin on an old idea. In fact, the best ideas are often a result of a new progression upon a previously formulated one. With 27 million pieces of content created daily, it may seem impossible to develop an idea that hasn’t been done before. However, by finding a topic that resonates with you and your audience, and adding your own voice and personality to it, you’re creating something new and unique.
Relevance doesn’t always mean playing off of current events. Recently, American Express held a campaign to market its EveryDay card to suburban moms with different needs than the typical AmEx cardholder. Data revealed the target audience wanted practical tips and household shortcuts, so the firm partnered with Kari Byron, longtime co-star of Mythbusters, and hosted a series of Web videos that provided some easy but equally clever life hacks. While the credit card couldn’t solve these problems by itself, it represented the everyday usefulness of the card. That’s relevance and being human.
What are your thoughts on what it means for your business to be human and how that impacts your small business content marketing and startup copy? We’d love to hear from you!