How Human Is Your Brand?

Article contributed by Suzanne Tosolini
Brand Strategist – Leonora Polonsky & Associates LLC

At the 2011 Cannes Festival of Creativity, there was an overriding message:  Brands need to become more human.

This humanity is evident when a brand tells its story in a way that entertains, teaches, or provokes and shares its values and ideals with the world. Nike’s Film Grand Prix winner Write the Future does it well, as did 2010 winner Old Spice “The Man your Man could Smell Like”, which went on to win this years Cyber Grand Prix for it’s online follow up Responses. You can easily tell what these brands believe in.  And you can relate to them in a human way.

After Cannes I was in Italy, which cemented my point of view.  Brands could learn from Italians on how to humanize themselves:  Waiters enjoy telling you what to order in a way that makes you feel special, each gift comes with a story, and every purchase feels like the deal of the year.  It’s all about stories and how they make you feel.  Does the homemade olive oil from the neighbor in Tuscany taste better?  Is the sweater, bought in a store where the salesperson informs you secretly that it’s made with the same wool used by Prada, really as precious as it feels?

So brands like Innocent, Method, Whole Foods, Zappos, and Apple are winning consumers hearts and minds due, in part, to the stories they create and share.  Components of a good brand story

  • Seed conversations around the story
  • Be true to brand history with a fresh, relevant twist
  • Be authentic
  • Stay constant over the long term
  • Be passionate
  • Make ideals and values apparent in the story

What stories does your brand have and how can you use them like Italians do?

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