Humanizing Brands in the Tech Era

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It is conspicuous to say that humanizing brands is the next big wave among the marketeers’ community. In today’s digital era, when everyone is peeping through their smartphones and gadget and into the world at large, it has become more pertinent (and also difficult) to connect with consumers on a personal level. Hence, the notion that humanizing a brand can prove significantly impactful in establishing a relationship with audiences that translate into active engagement in terms of brand’s trustworthiness and loyalty.

What renders a brand human-like for many people is the understanding that “they are made and sold by people, and in fact, in some cases, are people” (e.g celebrities) (MacInnis and Folkes, 2017). This puts brands in the same social categories such as genders, ethnic groups, professionals and so on (Waytz & Young, 2012) and therefore, the perception that brands have human-like features/attributes. Research shows when a brand is perceived to have anthropomorphic tendencies, it reflects favorably in consumers’ ability to relate to the brand vis-à-vis oneself (MacInnis and Folkes, 2017).

So, if a brand is to be rendered ‘human-like’, where do you begin?

Personify your brand, give it a personality

Humanizing your brand is to visualize it as a human, and every human being has an individual personality. To begin to humanize a brand is to think of it as having an individual personality, which then demands developing a tone of voice that will eventually guide how the brand is represented in the market using variety of content/communications.

This representation of the brand as having human-like features “activates a “human” schema” in consumers’ mind, leading them to perceive a sense of similarity between the brand and humans (MacInnis and Folkes, 2017). Defining a brand’s personality can be facilitated via verbal and/or audio-visual tools that can evoke anthropomorphic tendencies in consumers and make the brand relatable.

Over and above the traditional written content format, today’s digital platforms have put audio-visual formats in the mainstream. TikTok, a short-video format platform, was creating such waves among the Gen-Z that it pushed Facebook to introduce a similar format on Instagram in the form of Reels.

Adding the element of music to these formats is a level-up strategy when it comes to forming a connection with the audience, given the power of music to generate emotions or sentiments.

Therefore, music has been utilized in advertising since the beginning, because it can trigger the human brain to create feelings that give value to the product or service being presented to the viewer.

Therefore, music can make the brand come across as more human-like.

It is the power of video in tandem with audio, if used creatively, that can prove to be a strategic tool for marketeers to build customer relationships and reach wider audiences.

Trust is an indispensable human quality

Digitalization has impacted the nature of businesses, in terms of buying and selling, as well as the way businesses interact with their customers; thus making it more difficult to win consumers’ trust. Trust is an indispensable quality sought by people for establishing connections. In order to establish this trust, it is inevitable that customers experience their interaction with the brand as if it were a human.

Therefore, humanizing brands can prove to be a significant enabler for establishing trust between businesses and consumers.

Research highlights that there are two fundamental characteristics people associate with ‘being human’. One, there is a conscious factor that makes it possible to feel/experience and two, there is agency, which implies intention behind an action. So, when customers need to feel a human-like experience with a brand, they ought to know that there is human intention behind it, rather than automation. This human intention should be at the very core of customer interaction with brands because “people tend to equate intentionality with purpose and meaning”; which then leads to better understanding of the motive behind an action (Waytz, 2019). Once an understanding of the intention and motive is established, it becomes easier to trust a brand.

In similar vein, it has been found that Gen Z considers the ethos of principles and ethics to be a bigger driver of brand loyalty. Businesses that are driven by purpose and values that match those of Gen Z as well as Millennials have been found to be considered more trustworthy by these generations (Estrada, 2021). Since these are the generations that form the majority of the current consumer demographics and will remain so for a significant period of time to come, it is only rational to communicate the brand intentionality and purpose in order to earn consumer trust and loyalty.

What are human connections without emotions?

An essential component of the purpose-driven ethos discussed above is emotional intelligence (EQ). Emotions are a huge influence on most people’s decision-making process because connections that are formed at the emotional level are perhaps stronger than other kinds of connections. To be able to evoke emotions in someone and form a connection, empathy and authenticity are two critical principles to be practiced.

We hear it so often – “keep it real” – but what does it really mean? Being authentic has less to do with keeping an image and more to do with being honest and true to what your brand is. Authenticity is key to getting the audiences to empathize with your brand. Walk your talk, gain the trust of your customers. Show your customers you care about them by keeping in touch with them over and beyond any business agendas. To gain customers’ empathy, your brand must also display empathy. Any long- lasting relationship is a two-way street.

For instance, CSR and sustainable practices are significant contributors towards highlighting the empathetic and humane side of brands in front of the customers. Brands that understand their social impact and are willing to take steps to fulfill their social responsibility, are better able to connect with customers on an emotional level. This kind of purpose-driven ethos is what renders a brand emotionally intelligent.


Valades, B. (2022, August 3). Learn to humanize a brand using music for your marketing strategy. BluCactus Digital Marketing. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from brand-using-music-for-marketing-strategy/

Video’s power to humanise within an increasingly Digital World. Cacti. (2021, February 8). Retrieved August 12, 2022, from world/

Waytz, A. (2019, June 5). When customers want to see the human behind the product. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from see-the-human-behind-the-product

MacInnis, D. J., & Folkes, V. S. (2017). Humanizing brands: When brands seem to be like me, part of me, and in a relationship with me. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 27(3), 355–374

Waytz, A., & Young, L. (2012). The group-member mind trade-off attributing mind to groups versus group members. Psychological Science, 23(1), 77–85