When you think about the brands you interact the most with, what brands spring to mind? Personally, the forerunners for me include the likes of Uber, AirBnB and Red Bull to name a few. Now think about what these brands (and any other brands that collectively, we interact with on a regular basis) have in common. For the most part, I think we could safely say that most of the brands that make our ‘frequently used’ lists would be fairly new, and didn’t exist 10-15 years ago. 

What does this tell us? It tells us that consumers no longer use the products/services from the brands they’ve always known. According to PwC’s 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey, one third of consumers ranked ‘trust in brand’ among their top three factors that influence their buying decisions – a brand’s longevity is no longer the sole driver behind trust. Instead, people look into what brands care about; are they good corporate citizens? Have others had positive experiences with them? What else is being offered beyond the product?

Today, the average consumer is exposed to more than 5000 advertising messages per day. We’re overwhelmed with images and sales pitches, and desire real emotional connections with the brands that we support. This is why, as businesses, we should look at marketing not just as a platform to sell, but as the conduit for building meaningful relationships. Building relationships with your customers and wider audience is much like building any other relationship; you have to develop a real connection, listen and take action. You need to prioritise the relationship and deliver on the promises you make.

So, how exactly do you build a purposeful relationship in a crowded marketplace with fickle consumers? By humanising your brand. Still feeling a bit lost? Here are our top tips for humanising your brand to build trust.

Build an emotional connection

Never underestimate the intellect of your consumers; they are smart and expect a lot from the brands that they support. More than offering a great product or service, it’s what’s at the core of a business that builds a deep connection between brand and consumer. This can be nurtured through personal, meaningful, relevant content; being authentic and genuine isn’t something that can be faked anymore.

How can you create connections with your customers, regardless of industry? Online, you can create meaningful relationships by showing that behind the brand, you are human. Humanise your content through humour, introduce your consumers to the faces behind the brand, share user-generated content and share authentic stories.

Offline, you can also forge an emotional connection by getting involved in community events and causes by way of joining, supporting or sponsoring. Of course the effort must be genuine, so make sure it’s a cause that you really believe in and would support even without the recognition from your customers – the passion you feel will be contagious to your potential audience.

Listen to what your customers are saying and respond

Especially true when utilising social media and blogging to their full potential, listening to your customers feedback is one thing. However, showing up completely and responding to their feedback through action is an entirely different game. When you really listen to someone, you gain their trust. This same mentality is also true to business.

By showing your customers that you care about what they have to say, you are proving to them that you’re worth their money, time, advocacy and support.

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Deliver on your promises

Every interaction you have with your customers has an undercurrent. Every single thing you say about your brand, every promotion, every message you convey about your brand is a promise. Every conversion, every purchase, download and subscribe is an agreement. Through every interaction, you are promising to provide something of value or to work towards certain goals; your customers promise to engage with you as a result. What you might not realise however, is that every interaction with your customers is an opportunity for further, richer engagement. How you respond dictates what happens next; do you build a relationship or lose a fan?

Everything you do as a business communicates your brand; it goes beyond your marketing and advertising. Every single touchpoint is an opportunity for developing honest relationships with people who are choosing to communicate with you. It’s not just online where you need to deliver on your promises either; this promise extends offline as well. The experience of communicating is an entire process with before, during and after touchpoints. When you prioritise honesty and authenticity you’ll provide an amazing experience for your customers.

Put the relationship ahead of conversions

How do you create relationships with customers that will stand the test of time? The key is in the content you create; rather than creating content to convert, create content that is optimised for the relationship with your customers, not the conversion.

Why? Conversions are the by-product of a great relationship. Those built on honesty and transparency are the relationships that will last and will drive a lifetime of conversions. As mentioned before, consumers are smart people, they know when you’re not being genuine. If you’re not customer-centric, you won’t earn the opportunity of a relationship with your customers.

Show your customers that you care and lead with integrity; put your customers before your bottom line. 


Humanise your brand to build trust

To conclude, humanising your brand is both an easy and a difficult task. We’re all human beings and we all work with human beings. We all know the age-old saying ‘treat others the way you wish to be treated in return’; the same applies to your customers as well. 

There is bad news in that humanising your brand is hard work. It requires time in building trust, and fostering an authentic connection, all of which aren’t easy and don’t always scale. This is why harnessing your own authenticity is integral in creating a connection that is going to last. Humanising comes from the inside; by harnessing communications based on authenticity and honesty, you can ascertain that the relationships you build will be amongst those that will last a lifetime.

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.”

Brian Chesky

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