How Human Is Your Brand?

A most provocative question that isn’t really asked enough… but is sure to elicit an interested reaction because it begs to be answered.

  • To be human as a brand is to stop thinking about people as ‘targets’.
  • To be human as a brand is not to think of people as simply consumers who consume things.
  • To be human as a brand is to know the hopes and fears of the people you want to reach.

So, why are brands still reaching out in a static and almost robotic fashion? Why are they still relying on demographics and generational stereotypes?  I’m sure most brands could tell you, in great detail, how people consume their products and what their ‘target’ is reading every day.  But these measures are too simplistic and not dynamic enough – they don’t get to the heart of who people are on a more human level. They miss the connection.

It’s time for brands to align their own values and the values of people they are trying to reach.  And it starts with understanding these values and how they differ across generations. Values are connected to fundamental human emotions and lead to distinctly human behaviors.  Values like happiness, security, purpose, success, sexuality – each of these elicit different emotions and can be powerful drivers toward a myriad of experiences.  But how does a brand make the connection? 

Enter The Human Project.

Inspired by research that people want brands to behave like best friends and possess human-like qualities, Zeno Group, in partnership with Iconoculture, launched a dynamic initiative that looks deeply at the psychological and emotional drivers that compel people to engage with brands.  It studies people – Millennials, Gen Xers and Young Boomers -- on a very intimate level and explores the inherent values and behaviors that motivate their lives every day.  It also looks at the different dynamics between generations and provides rich insights into the lives of the people that brands want to reach on a more emotional level.  Putting the rich insights of The Human Project to work requires a new tool, The Brand Humanizer, that will help brands articulate and align their own values with the values of the people they want to reach.

The cultural and societal landscape is changing dramatically.  It is getting more challenging to differentiate ourselves as people and as brands.  Brands can be bright spots for people who are looking for deeper connections and experiences.  This is an opportunity for those brands who are willing to go deeper – to get to know the people who will ultimately be their most passionate evangelists. It’s time for brands to be human.

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