Your brand needs to be human. We see that everywhere these days. We are told that we need to put a human face on our brand and speak to our customers in a human way. I agree with this. I’d be foolish not to. A long time ago the business had the upper hand; there were less of them and they were in higher demand. Today it seems like there are as many “businesses” as people. Because of this we can be more selective. We, the customer have the upper hand. Couple that with our evolution as a society and it’s now acceptable and possible to choose to do business with companies that embody some of our most cherished, detailed beliefs and attributes that makes us who we are as individuals. Looking to buy clothes made out of hemp, from a company that gives a percentage of their proceeds to homeless children and is also an advocate for LGTB rights? I’m sure you can find them. The fact is that we have the luxury of being able to be ultra choosy today so we do business with those whose human persona most closely reflects ours. But why do we want our businesses to be human? What is the reason, at it’s most basic level? I think the answer lies within here:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the theory of human motivation. What drives us and makes us who we are. In someway or another all of the main sections in the pyramid account for why we want our brands to be human. But there’s one that I think trumps them all. One, that if we focus on and understand, can make us more effective when communicating with our customers. ESTEEM: The need to feel respected. The typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. As a species we crave respect. We are motivated and driven by the respect of others which in turn affects our self-esteem or self-respect.
Too often I see brands equating the need to be human to being “social” or trying to hard to reach millennials. As a millennial myself, this comes off as forced and cheesy. Viral videos with weird premises and played-out humor may work for some, but I think this is just a blip on the radar. There will be a time when social media and the viral phenomenon become so mainstream that another shift will be needed to reach the customer. This means that we need to latch on to the basics. What is more basic then a primal human need? Something that will always be there, no matter what the new hot social platform or advertising style is. ESTEEM. The need for a customer, rather, the individual, to feel respected. A muscly man with an erudite way of speaking in the most off the wall situations may sell deodorant to some. I switched from a brand that uses these over the top tactics after seeing ads for another that does not use aluminum in their products. The ad was simple but the communication was impactful. What it said told me that they value me and my health. That shows respect. That creates a loyal customer.
So how do we cater to this most basic and powerful need to be respected. That my friends, is another post for another day!