In today’s digital-first times, standing out from a million and one competitors can be tough.

Even if your business offers better service or cheaper products, there’s always going to be a rival just around the corner willing to undercut you or add something to their USP to steal your clients.

What’s worse, people have less trust in brands than ever before.

Consumers see businesses as profiteers who want to buy their data and follow them around on the internet through advertising.

This is especially true for online businesses and ecommerce websites, that don’t have the luxury of establishing themselves offline with real customers in a bricks and mortar store.

However, there is a solution for this.

If you want to get more people talking about your brand, increase customer loyalty and keep existing clients on your side, then it’s time to humanise.

Today, we’re looking into the ways that you can give your brand more personality, and humanise your marketing messages to make your business more relatable and more effective.


Develop a character for your business


One of the first things that you can do is imagine your brand as a fictional character.

Every brand needs a voice and a personality, but it can be tough to pull these qualities out of a hat and assign them to a logo or corporate slogan.

Taking a step back from your brand and imagine it as a human being, so you can create a framework to craft your marketing messages and be consistent.

Creating a character for your business is easier than it sounds.

Think about your audience and the sort of customers you want to attract, and then assign qualities to your business that those customers will relate to.

How would your brand dress?

Are they excitable, or are they cool, calm and collected?

Do they use social media formally or casually?

Answering these questions may sound strange, but they’ll help you form a real identity for your brand, and you’ll be able to come back to your framework when you’re writing blog posts and other marketing materials.

For example, if your brand character is informative, chatty and likes a laugh, then you can adopt this on social media, using colloquialisms when talking to your customers, and even sharing jokes, memes and GIFs and emoji to speak in the way your customers speak to you.


Use visual media

Without a doubt, the simplest and most effective way to humanise your brand is to pull back the curtain and show your followers the people behind the business.

Whether you do this on social media with updates from the office, or you create an ‘About the Team’ page on your website with images and tidbits about each member.

See also: Free marketing tools to create graphics and videos

The more you make your business about your staff, the more your audience will be able to engage with and empathise with your business.

Let people know what’s going on in the office, film testimonials and helpful information, live tweet during company outings, cover events and get-togethers, and use images and videos as often as you can to give people an insight into the people behind the business.


Cut back on automated marketing

We get it.

Scheduling new blog posts to go live on a particular day, and using tools like Buffer and HootSuite to keep your Twitter and Facebook profiles up to date saves time.

But too much automation could make your business look less like a human, and more like a robot.

See also: How to automate on social media without looking like a robot

And spending too much time on the dashboards of management apps and content management systems can cause you to become distant from the actual content you’re putting out there.

If you spend time reacting to comments in the moment, tweeting along during live events and posting new blogs spontaneously to cover a breaking news story, then your marketing will be more free-flowing, and you’ll look more human and ‘alive’ as a business.

We’re certainly not saying that you should do everything by hand and be glued to your phone 24 hours a day, but living in the moment and moving away from over-scheduling and over-optimising your brand and marketing messages will work wonders for your overall image.


Be a Chatty Cathy

If that video doesn’t scare you, we don’t know what will!

Engaging in conversations and chatting with your followers and audience is another way to make your brand more likeable – and the more you engage, the more you’ll get back from others.

If a follower tweets you and says they enjoyed reading one of your blog posts, for example, then thank them publicly and consider retweeting their message if you want to spread the word.

One of the best marketing techniques is user-generated content, so the more you interact with your audience and the more content they create featuring your brand, the better.

See also: How to increase engagement levels on your blog

Other ways that you can chat to and interact with your audience include the comments section of your blog, installing live chat functionality on your website, hosting a live Twitter chat where users can ask you questions, or even going live on Facebook and hosting a Q&A session.

Of course, chatting to your followers requires more work than scheduling a social media post and leaving people to it, but the more you interact, the more your followers will see you as a trustworthy and valuable member of their social media feeds.

Communicating with followers and leads on social media can cement loyalties, boost brand awareness, and it’s good fun, too!


Create personal brands

As well as developing a persona for your brand and creating engaging, human-like content, you should also look at the wider picture and create personal brands for your staffers.

Social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are great for building brand awareness, networking and finding new leads, but if your employees’ accounts are filled with drunken images from their weekend clubbing, then you’ll struggle to portray a consistent, likeable brand message to new customers.

You can make your business more human-like by creating ‘personal accounts’ for your staff on social networks, complete with an optimised biography, professional (and consistent) avatar, and a header image that sports your logo and branding.

These accounts should be separate from personal accounts, and clearly labelled as business accounts. On Twitter, for example, staff could sign up for new profiles with handles such as @BusinessNameJoe – just remember to keep it consistent so as not to confuse your followers.

Then, staff can create their own social media strategies centred on promoting your business, interacting with followers and giving a ‘behind the scenes’ look into life at your company.

Mark Walker-Ford from the Red Website Design company sports a professional Twitter profile, complete with branding that’s consistent with his business, and promotional on-brand tweets.


Wrapping up

Creating a brand that’s likeable, relatable, human-like and trustworthy takes time and requires a lot of hard work, both from a design and marketing standpoint.

Take your strategy back to the drawing board and see what more you can do to stand out.

The simplest way to humanise your brand is to think like a person rather than a corporation and speak to your audience in the way you’d expect them to speak to you. Good luck with your campaign.