Humanizing triumphs over digital marketing

2 min read

How can a brand avoid the ever-selling voice and instead present what excites its audience and customers in a humane way?

If anyone could answer that question, it’s master storyteller Barrack Onyango. He built his company, Sparks, based on a mix of media products, advertising and video production, and influencers – all relying on the magic of telling tales.

At the heart of a business such as Onyango’s is the brand capitalizing on humanizing to beat digital marketing’s products and services, which he described during an Africa Tweet Chat.

“It’s simple,” Onyango said. “You find that brands only or majorly develop a digital footprint through digital marketing on social media platforms. They forget that their clients need more than that. Humanizing your brand, therefore, builds a digital personality.

“It is this personality that acts as the human interface between the brand and its target consumers,” he said. “Your brand’s presence on social media can be a sounding board, a listening post, a growth trigger or an engagement catalyst if your social interactions have a personal touch.”

The humanized brand naturally thrives on more than words.

“Humanizing a brand is simply establishing humanity within a brand image or rather providing faces and names to demonstrate your brand,” Onyango said.

He added that humanizing and personifying are not synonymous. There is a distinction.

“Brand personification can be defined as ‘a projective technique that asks people to think about brands as if they were people and to describe how the brands would think and feel,” Onyango said. “That’s according to Research Software.

“Brand humanization is simply establishing humanity within a brand image,” he said. The distinction is that personification is having a person as the face of the brand. Humanizing a brand is about the public perception about a brand.”

This leads to storytelling’s role in humanizing a brand.

“Storytelling is the center stage of humanizing,” Onyango said. “People relate to your brand through the stories you feed them. Storytelling is an essential marketing tool for brands looking to ground their business strategy with messaging that is emotionally engaging and profitable.

“It also strikes the emotional chord with your audience through your story,” he said. “Create a story combining factual and creative elements that make it not only interesting but also evokes feelings among the masses.”

Whichever way stories twist and turn, trust must be at the crux.

“Be honest, consistent and reliable,” Onyango said. “Never tell fake stories because you can be sure people will see right through them.”

Directional outlines can humanize a brand.

“The ‘how’ may vary from one company to the next,” Onyango said. “If you want to stand out and win people’s trust, you need to do something different. You’ll need to build a brand image that portrays the business as more approachable, relatable and reachable.

“In other words, you need to make your brand more human, just like the consumers,” he said, giving these guidelines:

  • Avoid too much jargon.
  • Find a fictitious voice for your brand.
  • Make good use of humor.
  • Post relatable photos.
  • Always engage with your audience.

“Be consistent with your stories,” Onyango said. “Stay true to your brand. Add humor to it. Play the emotional ball.”

He gave another “simple response” to why brands should act human.

“People buy from people they like and trust,” Onyango said. “It’s really hard to like a faceless brand.

“The best content is the life a brand lives every day,” he said. “It’s the inception, challenges and how you found solutions to them. What do people, consumers, and employees say about your brand? Let the audience tell your story. You only need to control it.”

Humor as a storytelling element takes skill and insight.

“It’s very difficult because life is humorous in itself,” Onyango said. “Even the brands considered to be more ‘professional’ always find humor in their daily dealings.

“However, humor is an open field,” he said. “What’s humorous to you might not be humorous to me. Just find a balance.”

Video marketing also can bring out brand humanization to perfection.

“Videos add personality and a personable touch to your brand,” Onyango said. “They provide supporting visuals or capture an overarching theme of your brand’s message.

“Above all, content is king,” he said. “Without that, there’s no story to be told.”

Jim Katzaman Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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