Why You Need to Humanize Your Brand
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
When you look at professional headshots, you likely think of the above. Black blazer? Check. White shirt? Check. Hair conservatively pulled back? Check. Boring? Check.
While these types of photos might be the norm for a real estate brochure or a company website, they are SO lame when it comes to portraying your company’s culture. It tells your audience and even fellow employees absolutely nothing about you except you can take a photo. Impressive.
Why not put a little personality into those photos instead of looking like you were just booked into the county jail? Even the gossip magazines realize their audience wants to see celebs in real-life situations—at the grocery store, walking down the sidewalk, making out in a booth. It makes the celebrity seem more like us, someone we can relate to and be friends with if we played our cards right. Based on what I saw in People Magazine, I am confident James Franco and I would be close.
Your audience—which includes your prospects, customers and employees—isn’t any different. No, I’m not suggesting you take candid shots of your employees eating a corn dog or arguing with their boyfriend, but you can allow them to perk up those boring headshots and show some personality. Most employees would love the chance to show who they really are instead of pretending they have no life outside of the office.
It’s Time to Start Having Fun
What company doesn’t want to get its people working better together? When employees are in a groove, it shows in the brand. It starts with helping everyone see they have something in common, even if they are starkly different. Unless you’re organizing mandatory company-wide happy hours every Friday, there aren’t many opportunities to bring people together. Social media exploded because it leverages technology to connect people. It’s time you use technology to unite your team.
Here are a few ideas and an example of how to actually connect your team and personalize your brand by letting your audience see just how cool the people who represent your brand really are. The bonus? Your employees have a lot more fun and get to know other sides of each other than what they may only see in the office.
- with family members
- with a pet
- with a jersey or T-shirt from a favorite sports team
- working at a favorite charity
- dressed as a favorite movie or book character
- playing a favorite sport
- with college logo or mascot painted on cheek
- making a silly face
- doing favorite hobby or pastime…remember the Harlem Shake?
You can use these photos in employee directories, org charts, team websites, company websites or even feature an employee each week or month on your company homepage. Use an employee photo board to allow each employee to easily update their pictures so you can change the theme whenever the urge strikes.
A Bygone Era?
Remember when you could go to the corner grocery store and the produce man knew your name? Or when you went to your favorite diner and your waitress, Alice, served you your favorite pie without even asking? Ya, me neither because I was born post 1940. I can go to Starbuck’s every day and get a different barista every time who not only doesn’t know who I am, but couldn’t care less that she just gave me a no-fat, half-caf with milk when I clearly asked for soy.
Today’s consumer is looking for a personal experience to break through the noise of commercialism. With so much automation and mass communication, any chance a company has to humanize their brand is an opportunity they can’t afford to lose. People tend to trust other people more than they do a brand. Put your best asset (your people) front and center and see what that can do for a brand. It may be the best investment you can make in brand marketing.
The warm and fuzzy feel of working for a mom and pop company your entire career and getting a nice, fat pension for life upon retirement is a distant memory as well. The average person today changes jobs an average of 12 times during his or her career. As companies grow, they often lose the charm of employee’s knowing everyone’s name and what they did last weekend. Of course, now we have social media for that in our personal lives but not as much in our workplace.
Personalizing employee photos helps foster camaraderie among staff who may not regularly interact or even work in the same location. When people feel a personal connection, it builds trust. It shows people you aren’t just a professional or a job title, you’re human. You have character, you’re smart, you can have fun. Whatever it is, it’s an inexpensive, yet effective way to build instant rapport with your teammates and external audience.