Humanizing Brands for Competitive Advantage – a chat with Emma Borochoff

Building an authentic, human connection with customers is key for brands looking to stand out in a crowded marketplace. In other words, it’s about humanizing brands.

Emma Borochoff, who is Head of Marketing at 8fig, knows that humanizing your brand can be a powerful competitive advantage. She’s joining Jenn Mancusi on this episode of “Marketing, Demystified.”

Specifically, they discuss these questions on the episode:

  1. What does it mean to “humanize” a brand? Why is this important?
  2. What are some key strategies for authentically connecting with customers on a more human level? 
  3. How can brands avoid coming across as disingenuous when trying to humanize their messaging? What are some common pitfalls?
  4. How can companies identify their core values and build brands aligned with purpose?
  5. How does humanizing a brand strengthen loyalty and community with customers?
  6. What advice do you have for small or new companies aiming to humanize their brand on a budget?

Why this matters today?

At the end of the day, people have relationships with people and that involves the buying decision. People buy from people so having a brand that authentically appears human helps deepen those relationships with potential buyers and customers.

Think about our “Marketing, Demystified” episode with Trinity Nguyen. Trinity discusses the importance of staying connected with people even as they switch companies. When they know the people that are behind a brand and trust them that can help the company.

Episode show notes

In detail, Emma defines humanizing your brand as being able to connect with customers on a human level by showcasing the real people behind the company and tapping into customers’ wants and needs. In order to do that, she emphasizes building an authentic brand personality that makes people feel like they’re engaging with an actual human being rather than just a faceless corporation.

Overall, Jenn agrees and asks about balancing highlighting the people versus developing the brand personality itself.

In detail, Emma explains there are two key components:

  • Focusing on core brand values, personality traits, voice, and defining the modes of communication across different touchpoints and scenarios. Consistency is critical so interactions feel cohesive.
  • Having people represent those values and traits in their interactions with customers across touchpoints like events, phone calls, etc.

Jenn stresses the importance of consistency and cross-functional collaboration to align actions with brand values. She asks how brands actually identify those core values.

Identifying Core Brand Values

Emma explains it’s a combination of current values and aspirational values. She suggests exercises like understanding founders’ and leaders’ traits, what matters to customers, and where there are gaps to bridge.

Jenn talks about assessing top performers’ individual values to reveal company values, which can evolve over time.

Emma agrees evolutions are important as small startups grow into larger companies. She gives the example of Patagonia’s longevity and credibility stemming from the CEO’s core motivations. Actions must align with words to build trust.

Strategies for Human Connections

Jenn asks for tips on creating authentic human connections with customers.

Emma stresses the foundational work of defining values, personality, voice, and communication hierarchy. Map out how tone shifts across scenarios.

Put customers front and center – follow them on social media, highlight their successes, and engage outside purely transactional touchpoints.

Build community by meeting target customers offline first, learning their challenges, and providing value.

Jenn emphasizes reading the room across all communications channels to determine appropriate messaging. Emma agrees – don’t be overly salesy or promotional when relationship building.

Jenn notes the importance of personalization amidst automation.

Listen next: Putting People at the Heart of Your Go-to-Market Approach

Driving Loyalty Through Community

Jenn asks how humanizing a brand helps build customer loyalty and community.

Emma explains first understand if your own community makes sense or if you should participate in existing spaces. Have a differentiated, value-driven purpose beyond just revenue.

Provide the types of experts and conversations your community wants instead of self-promotion. Become a facilitator and resource for knowledge sharing.

Read next: New horizons: Expanding into new markets to grow your business

Humanizing on a Budget

Jenn asks how smaller companies can humanize their brand on a limited budget.

Emma suggests going through the foundational brand-building process of identifying core values, personality, and mission. Audit messaging and touchpoints like website, emails, and flows.

Start engaging directly with current customers on social channels and bringing their stories into the limelight.

Not to mention, you can show behind-the-scenes company culture and people. People love authentic glimpses into the humans behind a business.

Jenn agrees highlighting personal stories and personalities makes brands relatable and memorable.

In short, Emma says putting faces to a brand builds familiarity and trust compared to faceless corporations.

Tips for Authentic Messaging

Emma shares tips for making messaging more human:

  • Write conversationally, avoid jargon customers won’t relate to
  • Keep information succinct and straightforward
  • Infuse brand values and personality into all touchpoints
  • Have customer-facing teams engage socially with prospects and customers

Jenn talks about using AI to simplify and edit written content. Emma agrees AI offers helpful applications, though some nuances are still difficult for AI, like humor.

Learn how to build connections in our ABM workshop

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