Humanize Your Marketing Message to Build Brand Loyalty

You would think it would be difficult for consumers to differentiate between two brands that have similar products, positioning, and price-points. And yet they do so every day. How? Easy; they choose a brand like they would a friend! Consumers associate certain characteristics with brands. And then they go ahead and judge these brands through the same lens that they would use for people. Brands that think, feel or behave just like humans are the ones people relate to the most.

But the above insight is a new one. It is a major shift from the earlier ‘consumer-centric’ marketing approach where it was all about why and from whom one could buy a product. The sole focus of companies was on moving along their sales figures. With the advent of social media, consumers are not passive any more. They are seeking value-driven engagement. Humanizing your brand messaging is the perfect way to stand out from the clutter and connect with today’s customers.

So how can you make your brand messaging more humanised?

In ‘Marketing 3.0’, Philip Kotler, well-known marketing guru states that,

“Human-centric marketing is defined by brands [that] approach engaging their current and prospective customers via advertising and marketing tactics as whole human beings with hearts, minds, and spirits.”

Admired brands talk and act just how people would.  They are interested in knowing the motivations and challenges faced by customers.  They create an inviting environment for meaningful conversations. When brands come across less as corporate profit mongers and more as warm and empathetic problem-solvers interested in forming long-lasting emotional connections with their consumers, they command trust and loyalty.

Storytelling is one of the most popular ways to provide an all-important context for making the brand more human and hence more relatable. An original and creative story that resonates with the audience will ensure that your marketing message will have broad reach and impact.

Let us understand how humanizing their marketing message through storytelling worked for three leading global brands: Audi, Coca-Cola, and Samsung.

A) Audi

  • Campaign:

‘Audi Technology. Clown Proof’ created by Bartel Bogle Hegarty, a.k.a BBH, London September 2017

  • The brand motto/purpose:

Create awareness about the safety features in the Audi

  • The story idea/background:

Audi was known as a beautiful car and not so well-known for its safety features. There was also a need to appeal to younger customers.  

  • The execution:

‘Show, don’t tell’ approach using a humorous approach

Instead of hard-selling the safety-features, Audi intelligently uses a) insight b) humorous storytelling to advertise the car’s superiority. An important reason why the ad touches the right chord is that it reflects a significant pain-point of drivers – most accidents take place because of the buffoonery of others on the road such as hawkers, pedestrians, other drivers etc.

The ad had several clowns in their clown cars indulging in crazy shenanigans- wearing makeup while driving, going in reverse without intimation etc. But the Audi escapes all that without a scratch owing to its safety features: ‘pre-sense city’, ‘park assist’ etc. Even though some of the safety features are standard, humorous storytelling engages the viewer. Seeing clowns on screen evokes laughs immediately.

Showcasing its charitable persona, Audi also contributed towards the cause of ‘Road Safety Week’ every time the background song ‘Send in the Clowns’ by Faultline and Lisa Hannigan was Shazammed. (‘Shazam’ is a free mobile application that helps users figure out the name of a song being played on the radio, television or any other place).

  • The humanised message:

 Audi is an empathetic brand that is socially-conscious. It endeavours to create smart, safe as well as classy cars that solve the problems faced by its drivers.

Awards won: Thinkbox award for TV ad creativity

“Audi stands out from the crowd, and research proves our campaigns are successful. We are right to strive for originality. “

Benjamin Braun Marketing director, Audi UK

B) Coca-Cola

  • Campaign:

‘Honouring 20 years of freedom of South Africa (SA), the #RainbowNation’ created by Foote, Cone & Belding, a.k.a. FCB, Johannesburg in April 2014

  • The brand motto/purpose:

Create awareness about its news ‘Open Happiness’ campaign in SA on the occasion of the country’s 20 years of freedom

  • The story idea/background:

SA is known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, a phrase coined by Archbishop Tutu, an anti-apartheid activist. The rainbow is a symbol of SA’s diversity and also a universal representation of hope and positivity.

  • The execution:

In over 130 years of its marketing history, Coca-Cola has come a long way from its very first tagline ‘Delicious and Refreshing’. All the recent campaigns of the brand have focused on feelings and how ‘Life Tastes Good’ (2001) for its consumers with Coca-Cola.

In 2014, the brand chose an outdoor and experiential campaign to commemorate a momentous occasion in SA’s history – 20 years of freedom. Coca-Cola created an artificial rainbow and a party atmosphere for the locals of Johannesburg. The crowd enjoyed the visual marvel in the sky and experienced the sheer joy of dancing under the rainbow with a Coca-Cola bottle in their hands.

The product was the proverbial ‘pot of gold’ found at the end of the rainbow.  The campaign also had an online presence through the generation of co-created content using #RainbowNation.

  • The humanised message:

The campaign created a perfect association with the brand tagline ‘Open Happiness’. Coca-Cola created an emotional bond with the people of SA by endorsing the nation’s belief of ‘celebrating unity in diversity’. It established itself as a fun-loving brand that wants to share happiness and positivity with its customers.

Awards won: Cannes Gold , Loeries

Laurence Green, the founding partner at 101 and Thinkbox Academy member, described the spot as “a brilliant insight, simply but beautifully realised: it’s a commercial we can all learn from.”

C) Samsung

  • Campaign:

‘We make what can’t be made, so you can do what can’t be done, #Dowhatyoucan’t’ created by Leo Burnett Chicago in April 2017

  • The brand motto/purpose:

Establish ‘Samsung’ as an iconic and futuristic brand creating technology that enables people to push boundaries

  • The story idea/background:

The campaign sought to regain the customers’ trust once again after the receiving negative publicity owing to the Samsung S7 Note devices catching fire as well as the corruption scandal the company was embroiled in.  

  • The execution:

When people see dreams coming true, they believe that they too can overcome their own life-limiting conditions. Through an extraordinarily creative and inspirational advertisement, Samsung gave a hint of its ‘cutting-edge’ technological supremacy (later ads revealed the ‘infinity screens’ with upgraded Gear 360 and Gear VR). The beautifully shot ad depicts an ostrich wander away from its flock in a barren landscape.

It accidentally wears a VR (Virtual Reality) headset and experiences ‘flight simulation’. It is a commonly known fact that an ostrich cannot fly. But as a result of the VR experience, the ostrich that believes it can indeed fly and then after a few false starts it finally does. The uplifting music plays an instrumental role in evoking emotions from the viewer.

  • The humanised message:

Samsung inspires people to achieve the impossible through its technology. The brand is forward-looking, adventurous and is on the lookout-out for empowering solutions for its customers.

Awards won: Cannes Gold

“Nowadays, we all have a voice, and we can express to the whole world what we feel through technology. New generations are going to live with less prejudices and barriers. This commercial is here to remind us that fear is a thing of the past,” said a statement by Leo Burnett Argentina, the agency behind the LatAm ad.

End Note

Humanising your brand’s message shall make it appear more real and accessible. If you wish to humanise your brand just like the above popular brands, invest first in figuring out what are the characteristics you would like to associate with your brand. How would it speak to your customers? Once you have deciphered your brand persona go ahead and share it with the world! You are bound to see the love pouring in.

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