We are constantly communicating. One generation ago, when my father left the house in the morning he did not communicate with my mother until he returned home in the evening – now we text all day. There’s a constant stream of information flooding into pocket via our smart phones. This has changed how a product or service promotes itself. How it gets attention and how organizations engage with people.
If you’re not in people’s newsfeed, you don’t exist.
This means brands must shift from talking at you to conversing with you. It means being louder, bigger and in your way more often, doesn’t work nearly as well as it once did.
We live in a world of dialogue. To have a conversation, you first need to have something to say. Ideally it’s something worthwhile. Your brand needs to add value to the conversation, not solely seek attention. To do this well, your brand needs to know how to listen, be open and empathetic.
To be a 21st century brand, you must be human.
Humans are driven by emotions. Brands must do the same. Brands who seek a higher purpose will have more to say. They’ll have a more profound story to share. And people will yearn to take part in that higher purpose and feel the brand has meaning. Patagonia and Dove have hit that chord well. On the business side, IBM and Salesforce.com has been successful instilling their brands with a higher purpose. John Deere too, for 100+ years has successfully had the higher purpose of helping farmers be better farmers, verses simply selling them equipment.
A key to evolving your brand into a human and more meaningful brand is not only finding its reason for existing and communicating that higher purpose in a compelling way, but backing it up. It’s about being consistent.
John Deere has published a quarterly magazine since the mid 1880’s, it’s now digital. Patagonia will fix your garments for free – supporting their message to buy less stuff. Salesforce.com has the 1+1+1 initiative that gives product, community hours, and cash to not-for-profits. IBM would mail a whitepaper (tailored to their business) to every new customer who bought one of their mainframe computers, helping that individual become more successful at their job.
To humanize your brand and make it more meaningful in this brave new world of constant communication, start with these 4 steps:
- Define your reason for existing – your “why”
- Communicate your purpose clearly
- Support your promise with tangible value-adding elements that are client centric
- Be consistent
- Be emotive
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy firm.