The next move for brands to ensure they remain (or become) relevant and authentic is to focus on being part of the ‘human era’. The brands that will be popular and solid in the future are those that embrace the shift from the ‘institutional era’ to the ‘human era’. Why the shift? As humans, we have a basic need for connection with others and the recent uptake has made many of us feel disconnected so this shift is essentially a readjustment of sorts – people want to get back to that sense of inclusion and connection – even if that connection is now primarily online.
Online marketing and social media platforms allows customers in today’s marketplace to quickly and easily see the ‘real’ you and if they don’t like what they see, if they don’t feel connected, if they don’t feel respected and valued, if they don’t trust that you are being genuine and authentic, you will lose them forever.
Firstly, is your brand institutional era or human era?
- Do you send emails that have ‘do not reply’ addresses?
- Do you make it difficult for your customers to reach/connect with a real person?
- Do you make money in ways that your customers don’t know about? Are you transparent?
- Do you have policies/systems that make it hard for front line employees to make things right or to admit mistakes?
- Do you measure your customer service team on how fast they get off the phone or ‘deal with’ an issue?
- Do you send out communications with a paragraph in 6-point type at the bottom?
- Do you prevent unedited ratings and comments from customers on your website or social media platforms?
- Do you hinder your team speaking unscripted and/or showing their true personality?
- Do you proactively steer customers away from the product best for them and toward the one which is more profitable for you?
- Are you uncomfortable saying sorry? Do you actively discourage it?
- Do you follow your process/system to the letter or will you allow an exception to create a happy customer and brand ambassador?
- Is your customer research done behind closed doors or do you ask questions and get feedback in open forums/platforms?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above then your brand isn’t a human era brand. But with some small changes you can easily become one. Undertake a brand audit, evaluate your current processes and systems and determine where adjustments can be made. Use the list below for some ideas of how you can connect more readily with your market.
How do we define a human era brand?
- They listen and engage in eye-to-eye conversation
- They are open and actively seek customer input
- They’re delivery is more inclusive, personalised and intimate
- They understand that customers seek to, not just buy something, but buy INTO something
- They deliver solutions in ways that will drive engagement
- They are real, they are flawed and admit to such
- They are connected, friendly and bring back fun
- They instil trust by embracing the idea that ‘the little things matter’
- They communicate a passion for people
- They are empathic
- They empower the individual to be the brand and understand the importance of this move
You can’t be a more human brand by simply saying that you are. You need to deliver an authentic and consistent story that provides true connection and inspiration. It also won’t happen overnight – you need to align your brand values and commitments to be customer driven and then build trust – this will take a united effort from all levels of management and employees. Those brands which will prosper in the human era are those that:
- Demonstrate listening
- Convey a sense of cohesion and solution
- Focus on collaboration with the customers
- Are personalised and localised
- Convey trust and transparency
- Commit to acts not ads
If you need assistance in creating or redefining your human era brand contact your local branding agency Liquid Creativity today.