Brands today talk about wanting to deliver a more human experience across digital channels, but what does this mean and how can brands achieve this? I believe that brands who talk about “Humanising Digital” are aiming to engage and connect with customers in a manner that creates a lasting relationship, a relationship which drives long term loyalty and, more importantly, encourages advocacy. Much like in real life, developing this type of relationship takes time and effort. There are a number of ways that brands could accomplish this. The list below outlines some guiding principles which I like to apply when being asked how to help brands come across as more human.
User Centred Design
“Software should behave like a considerate human being” – Alan Cooper "About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design"
A helpful, intuitive, engaging digital experience is a fundamental expectation of today’s user. Much like having natural charisma, having a user experience that makes it easy for users to engage and interact with you helps them feel comfortable with your brand and start building trust in you.
We use a tried and tested cross-discipline User Centric Design process. It aims to deliver experiences that are grounded in business objectives (the goals of our client) and fulfill their users’ needs, whilst providing on-brand digital experiences. Its main principle is to place the end-user at the heart of the requirements gathering, design and development process. It’s regularly updated taking into consideration advances in technology, consumer behavior and trends, adoption of best practices and lessons learned. There are clear reasons why companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google have advocates that boarder on the fanatical - and one of those reasons is that they make interacting so easy for their users.
Human history proves that we understand everything via the narrative structure of stories. Brands, products and services are stories customers buy into and become part of. The fragmented nature of marketing now demands that companies have a well-defined narrative structure that delivers customers and more importantly, advocates.
Brands need to ensure that their stories are genuine and align with their own core values. Today’s customers are not naïve and can see through fake and blatant attempts by brands to garner their trust through stories or support that don’t align with the business.
We worked with Standard Life Investments to launch their global sponsorship of the Ryder Cup. From the outset, there were clear parallels between the business and the Ryder Cup; a team event in an individual sport, where no one person can win the competition individually and a sharp focus on team work. These themes aligned neatly with the values Standard Life Investments promotes internally. We were delighted to help Standard Life Investments launch their sponsorship through a series of digital activations that helped tell the story of why they we’re sponsoring the Ryder Cup.
Our integrated campaign approach allows us to define the campaign strategy, build the narrative, plan the execution and deliver the activations across a number of touch points. By carefully building out the narrative we are able to help brands deliver appropriate experiences which leads to engagement activation.
Data and technology can do more than simply optimise existing digital experiences. It can be leveraged to build a deeper understanding of your customers, show them empathy and deliver more personalised experiences. Both online and offline. Virgin Atlantic recently trialed using Google Glass at check in gates in Heathrow Airport to offer a more personalised experience to their Upper Wing passengers. By being more personable and offering a better experience brands can delight their customers and help leave them with a positive impression that will hopefully deliver advocacy.
A company’s social activities should align with its business purpose and values – connecting back to its strategic aims. Social media is a great tool for brands who get it right, helping deliver brand messaging and personality, providing service, creating engagement and advocacy. However, brand must ensure that they get the foundations correct – ensuring that, like any good relationship, the conversation flows both ways. Listen and broadcast. And make sure that if you say you’ll do something that you follow through. Nothing can ruin a relationship like broken promises.
Ensuring you have a clear strategy and the resource to execute that strategy as well is also important. You probably don’t want to give complete carte blanche to the team running the accounts and having some simple guidelines around content and tone can help ensure they stay on brand and deliver the type of engagement you require.
The above list isn't exhaustive and some apply to your brand or something might be missing. Like humans, each case is unique and it’s about understanding your requirements and goals to ensure that if you want to deliver a more personable, human experience across digital channels that you understand what that means to your business and your customers. Once that has been understood the planning and application of strategies can be begin.