13 Characteristics of Human Brands

Human Brand Characteristics Social BusinessJust like people, brands come in all shapes and sizes. A brand is not a logo, colors, fancy tag line or even a fancy Super Bowl commercial. A brand is not your Facebook page, Twitter background or set of beautifully designed Pinterest boards.

The truth is your brand is all of these things and more. It’s what you tweet, post, pin, +1, Instagram and offer as a call to action. It’s what you write in emails, and what you don’t. It’s whether you talk about yourself all day on Facebook or if you offer real value.

Your brand is what you say, do and think. It’s what your employees do online and offline. It’s everything from your privacy policy, social media policy to the amount of spam email you send.

It’s how you manage crisis or how you don’t. It’s how well you listen and most importantly how quickly you respond when people request help or engage with you online or offline.

The Living, Breathing, Human Brand

The human brand is much like a living, breathing organism. It’s true definition is determined by those that love, like or even dislike you. A brand is made up of humans within your organization and finally defined by those outside your organization.

You can’t create a brand with a robot or algorithm. Yes, you can use data, analytics, research and more as inputs to develop your brand, it's brand promise, core messages, vision and mission. Yet, it’s people that select the final colors and tagline. It’s humans who post the status updates. It’s humans who read them. It’s humans who click like, pin, post and share the content the humans in your organization write.

On average it takes a minimum of 6-7 brand touches for someone to remember your brand. You better make every touch count. It’s humans who decide if they like you or not, if they tell their friends good or bad things about you.

social brand humanizationThe sooner you can acknowledge the importance of becoming a human brand and the need to truly inspire and connect with your audiences, the sooner you will see results and progress as you integrate social media into the DNA of your organization.

Below are 13 characteristics of the human brand. I could write 100 of these because you can’t simply define a human nor a human brand in a short list of characteristics. However, here are 13 straight forward characteristics of human brands. If you are wondering what human brands do and think this is a good place to start.

This post is part of  a series I am writing on the topic of brand humanization. Subscribe to the series, “Talk Human to Me” for updates, free webinars, brand worksheets, podcasts, tweet chats and more.

13 Characteristics of the Human Brand

1. Think like humans. You may be thinking that brands can’t think. Well, yes they can. Human brands have people on the inside that think like humans. They don’t think like a cash register or corporate building. They think about things that human beings do, eat, like and believe.

2. Care about humans. They care about the humans they engage with. They care if they are happy, sad, satisfied, frustrated, hungry or full. They care about their needs, wants, problems, desires and offering them real value, not just non-sense marketing tactics. It matters to them that they are cared for. They care about all the people in their ecosystem from customers to board of directors. They keep them at the front of all decisions.

3. Value relationships. Human brands value the people more than the dollar signs. They are not willing to trade a dollar for relationships gone bad. They know that investing in people is the only way and that relationships are both the cake and the icing of business and personal or professional success. You won't see the human brand buying fake Twitter follower or Facebook fans. They value real human to human interaction and authentic relationships.

4. Listen to other humans. Human brands listen more than they talk. They speak when they need to speak but always have an ear to how their audience, clients, partners and stakeholders respond. They know their Google Analytics and other website data and analytics is a gold mine.  They use the data to listen and learn about their audience, not only convert the transaction to a sale. You may find them listening more than talking when it comes to social media.

5. Talk like humans. Human brands don’t talk like robots or corporate collateral. They speak in language other humans read, listen to and understand.

brand humanization6. Have a personality. What is your brand personality? Is it serious? Fun? Engaging? Inspiring? All of the above? Human brands have a personality that inspires and connects them with their audiences.

7. Show their “human”. Right in line with the personality, human brands aren’t afraid to let their human show. They laugh, giggle, sing, dance, talk, and may even get frustrated sometimes. They often let you see the people behind the avatars as they know they are their own best ambassador.

8. Make and own their mistakes. No human being is perfect and no brand is perfect because it is made up and defined by humans. Human brands are humble. They make mistakes just like you and me and they aren’t afraid to own it..

9. Are available. Are you available when your online or offline audience wants you to be? Do you respond to questions in a timely manner? Are you even available to answer questions? Or do you hide behind a corporate web form, fill your Twitter and Facebook stream with corporate speak? Human brands make themselves available. Even if they aren’t available 24/7 they let their audience know when they are available.

10. Know themselves. They know who they are and what they offer their customers, partners, online community and friends. They know their strengths, weaknesses and sweet spots. They know how to talk, listen and what makes them shine. They don’t guess what to post or pin as they engage in social with confidence and pride.

social media audience analysis11. Know their audience. Just as they know themselves, they also know their audience. They know what their audience wants and how to provide it. They know how to inspire them, connect with them and help them achieve their goals. They know if they inspire, connect and help their audience achieve their goals that they will by default achieve their goals as well.

12. Agile. Human brands do not sit static, they evolve. Because they are always learning, listening more than talking, they are able to move with agility. They don’t have to jump on every shiny new object. They are able to jump with confidence at the right time. This offers them an extreme level of competitive differentiation. As those brands who are not in touch with their audience, who aren’t listening, and not focused on the goals and objectives of their audience have difficulty saying no to shiny objects as they’re always looking for the next best thing to magically bring them success. Human brands evolve with confidence and agility combined.

13. Invest in people. Human brands know they can never go wrong by investing in people. They invest in listening, learning, training, empowering, building teams and creating a culture that enables their brand to shine from the inside out. As Sandy Carter of IBM says, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Even though I am a strong believer of strategy, I agree with her. Without investing in culture and the people both internal and external brands can’t be human.

What You Say?

Is your brand human? Do you wish it was more human? What about your brand is human? What is your favorite human brand? What is it that attracts them to you? Is it the way they talk, think, act, or simply everything about them?

Talk Human to Me Series

This blog post is part of a series titled “Talk Human to Me“. It includes a deep look at brand humanization and the power of the human brand.

Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training, worksheets and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be more human from the inside out within our lives and business.

Additional Resources: 

2017-02-08T00:34:39+00:00

About the Author:

CEO / Founder Marketing Nutz, full service social media, digital marketing, experiential brand, conversion optimization agency. Ranked by Forbes as Top 10 Social Media Women and 10 Social Media Power Influencer. Keynote speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. Helps businesses of all sizes integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups.

61 Comments

  1. […] Just like people, brands come in all shapes and sizes. A brand is not a logo, colors, fancy tag line or even a fancy Super Bowl commercial. A brand is not your Facebook page, Twitter background or set of beautifully designed Pinterest boards…. … On average it takes a minimum of 6-7 brand touches for someone to remember your brand. You better make every touch count. It’s humans who decide if they like you or not, if they tell their friends good or bad things about you. The sooner you can acknowledge the importance of becoming a human brand and the need to truly inspire and connect with your audiences, the sooner you will see results and progress as you integrate social media into the DNA of your organization. Below are 13 characteristics of the human brand. I could write 100 of these because you can’t simply define a human nor a human brand in a short list of characteristics. However, here are 13 straight forward characteristics of human brands. If you are wondering what human brands do and think this is a good place to start….  […]

  2. […] Just like people, brands come in all shapes and sizes. A brand is not a logo, colors, fancy tag line or even a fancy Super Bowl commercial. A brand is not your Facebook page, Twitter background or set of beautifully designed Pinterest boards.  […]

  3. Marc Zazeela April 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Pam,

    Humans create the value. Humans create the following. Humans create the emotional bonds. Humans create the influence.

    Machines can measure numbers.

    Make a human connection with your audience or market.

    Cheers,
    Marc

  4. denysedd April 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

    An interesting perspective Pam that in fact ties into my belief that all brands should be positioned based upon an insight that links to a Human Truth. If that is done, then all of this is a natural outcome of it.

    • PamMktgNut April 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      I love your use of the word “natural” @denysedd:disqus . It really is how it works. The more you focus on others and providing them relevant value the more organically and natural the results come as well.

      Thanks for taking time to stop by & comment.

  5. cmcoto April 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Pam, love your article! I would agree that you have to know yourself.. for me that´s a must. I would add to it, to be CONGRUENT… your thoughts, feelings and Behavior… You have to be congruent yourself, or you won´t be a congruent brand, and people will notice… Thanks for your insight Pam…
    Carlos.

  6. Steve Thorwald April 24, 2013 at 12:13 am

    A wee bit idealistic, in my opinion. As a career-long marketer and marketing consultant, I think your points are more wishful (for humans) than realistic.

    • PamMktgNut April 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Depends on the brand @facebook-100001169735223:disqus . There are many brands who live this and do so purposefully. There are also some who wish they could. Each characteristic can be broken down into actionable strategies and tactics so I would argue that it is not idealistic unless you do nothing to get there. If you dream about it and do not make moves to get there then yes, it is idealistic. Interested in your response on such.

      • This is Milk Ltd February 28, 2017 at 8:06 am

        Hello! Just wondering what your thoughts are around brands that do this really well – who are they in your opinion?

  7. Tom McCall April 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    As the head of marketing for a medical device company with the brand line “Human Connections” I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for the insights.

  8. Tim Burrows May 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Hey Pam.
    I think that the one thing that ‘human brands’ often lose sight of is that no matter what, the humans behind the brand must always represent the brand without confusing the audience. I follow a very specific “brand” with an intent purpose and I am often confused at what the message is intended to be. When a brand gets too human and only engages in trivial conversation and banter, they risk losing the audience that is there for the brand information.
    I would rather have a little smaller dedicated audience than a huge following that is there just for the chat.
    Yes, a human brand is a much better brand, but it is and must always be a brand first.
    Just my 2 cents.

  9. […] 1. Be human. Humanize your brand. Don’t talk like a robot in 1995 corporate speak. Realize that your brand is everything about you from what you tweet to how you respond to comments on Facebook. Don’t hide your employees. Let them shine and be a living, breathing representation of who and what you are. Read more here-> “13 Characteristics of the Human Brand.” […]

  10. […] 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  11. […] 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  12. Mark Patchett June 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Great write up.

    Developing your own brand is so essential. Gone are the days where we stick in one job for 50 years and get an engraved Omega.

    Developing your own human brand helps to give you heightened perceived value.

    This can first help you get your foot in the door – and then allow you to push for a better package!

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  26. […] If I narrow down to one social media article that really shaped and guided me in 2013, it was this blog post by Pam Moore the Marketing Nut: “13 Characteristics of Human Brands.” […]

  27. Aesta C January 1, 2014 at 12:29 am

    This is very thorough article on something I have not really taken seriously. It encourages me to foci my engagement more really knowing my circle.

  28. […] Humanizing your brand will help you increase trust, connect with real human beings, grow and nurture authentic relationships and enable you to experience increased results both personally and professionally. Read-> 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  29. […] 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  30. […] 3. Create experiences. Make it a goal to create an amazing experience for every visitor to your website. Give them something to remember. Connect with them on a human and emotional level. Don’t write like a robot. Share yourself. Humanize your language by sharing real stories, providing inspiring and authentic content. Read->13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  31. […] 10. Be human. There is only one you so be that person, period. Social is not going to transform your organization, but instead it will reveal it. Focus on being you and being human from day one. Treat your audience and social communities as human beings. Care about them, and speak to them as human beings, not as robots. Bottom line, you can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them. Read-> Talk Human to Me and 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  32. […] 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

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  35. […] 3. Create experiences. Make it a goal to create an amazing experience for every visitor to your website. Give them something to remember. Connect with them on a human and emotional level. Don’t write like a robot. Share yourself. Humanize your language by sharing real stories, providing inspiring and authentic content. Read->13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

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  41. […] course, your brand doesn’t have to be secondary. If you can pull of the delicate art of being a human brand, then your company could have that treasured slot as “friend” – not “advertiser” – on […]

  42. […] for them and show them that you care about more than the credit card in their wallet. Read-> 13 Characteristics of Human Brands and 22 Tips to Humanize Your Brand Using […]

  43. […] The more you can help your employees feel comfortable representing themselves online, the better they are going to be able to behave and interact as real human beings. It is important they are able to portray their own personal brand and not just a robotic copy image of your corporate speak and message. Empower them to build relationships and help them understand they are going to take time to nurture. Read-> 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  44. […] Blog Post: 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

  45. […] The more you can help your employees feel comfortable representing themselves online, the better they are going to be able to behave and interact as real human beings. It is important they are able to portray their own personal brand and not just a robotic copy image of your corporate speak and message. Empower them to build relationships and help them understand they are going to take time to nurture. Read-> 13 Characteristics of Human Brands […]

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  52. […] show that the closer a brand comes to reflecting human personality traits, the easier it becomes for users to identify with them. And as Robert Cialdini’s “Six […]

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