Branding is really about understanding human behaviour and human desire. And there are three things that I personally find most fascinating when it comes to our psychology in the world of brands. Our desire for belonging, our craving for newness, and a more recent pillar, the importance of authenticity. Unless you are a psychopath (and I’m going to assume that you're not), you have a deep-seated desire to belong and to be accepted by others. Our craving for newness is prevalent in everything we see around us. More than ever we hop from one trend to the next and our thumbs keep scrolling for the next hit of dopamine. Finally, our bullshit radar is on high alert. Whereas 20 years ago Pepsi might have gotten away with their now infamous Kendall Jenner ad, many of us today can smell when we’re being manipulated. When brands inauthentically use what we deem important purely to sell products it doesn't take long before we call them out or lose respect. Good branding, in my humble opinion, lives up to these 3 pillars.
1. BE HUMAN
It respectfully treats people like humans instead of numbers.
2. WOW & WTF
It entertains them through bold, creative, unexpected and valuable content and campaigns.
3. HONEST AUTHENTICITY
It does so from humble and honest authenticity that reflects the team. It uses an authentic tone of voice, enters into authentic collaborations, all the while daring to share honest opinions and even own up to mistakes.
4. DO GOOD (Bonus Point)
Does a brand need to ‘do good’ to be successful these days? No. I don’t think so. But what a shame right? I truly believe brands have the power to change the world, so why not make sure your brand makes it better? Your audience will thank you for it.
So, now we got those covered, how does a brand bring these to life? I like to think about it as a successful dinner party… or if you’re living in Melbourne during September 2021, an awesome zoom dinner party. (I know that doesn't exist but let’s pretend) There are a few key ingredients that make a great dinner party. We want to connect, introduce our guests to our friends, keep their glasses filed, shake things up, and not be a douche. Let’s dive in...
“Be beyond grateful that they showed up to your dinner party!”
You know those likes, comments, DM’s, emails and tags? Each single one is made by a human trying to connect, feel seen and be heard. Regardless of their nature, that person did not write a comment under your recent post because they were talking to themselves. They were talking to you. So be inclusive to all, not just those who agree with or compliment you. Take feedback, thank them honestly for their post, share and like and truly engage with their comments, DM’s and emails. Basically, be beyond grateful they showed up to your dinner party! Example: It’s hard to find a good example unless you’ve had the chance to work behind the scenes, so let me pull in my baby Hey Tiger. Although we’ve since closed the doors we were, and maybe are, a prime example when it comes to treating our community like we were besties. From D&M’s in our DM’s to attentive customer service we made sure our audience felt like we saw them. Just have a look at the comments and notice we always made time to be a part of the conversation. Humble brag: our NPS score was 91.7 thank yawh.
INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR FRIENDS
“Show those faces!”
Gossip is actually a human survival trait. It was handy to be able to check with people if that new wanderer that entered your tribe was a murderer or not. Today we still use this tool to sus people out. So, just like you introduce your new friends to your old ones at dinner, so must we do this with our brand. By showing your face or that of your team and engaging in authentic collaborations with brands or people your audience already trusts, we show them who we are and where we belong.. and you know, that we're not murderers and stuff. Example: Fashion brand Tibi started their Style Class on IGTV on April 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was working from home. Simply filmed with an iphone, Creative Director Amy Smilovic and Style Director Dione Davis began sharing their essential style tips. Not only did this give a more human feel to the Tibi brand it allowed us a sneak peek at the people that make it.
KEEP THOSE GLASSES FILLED
“Keep ‘m coming!”
Have you ever watched old ads? Have you noticed how incredibly long and slow they were? That's because our brains take in information much faster than they did in the past. Saldy this means we also get bored much easier. So keep those glasses filled, keep them entertained, constantly create new content, serve them vs sell to them and make every post count! Gulp, gulp - refill please!
Example: What other brand is as content heavy as Glossier? Covering all the platforms, posting multiple times a day and entertaining us with everything from how to, go to bed with me, wake up with me - videos to memes and easy, yet sharable, content. Can your team keep up? Probably not, and you probably don’t have to. But they’re a good example nonetheless.
SHAKE IT UP
“Make them remember you!”
Remember that guy in school that never really said anything, never had an opinion about something and dressed exactly like everyone else? No? Neither do I. Yet when it comes to brands many choose to be just that. It’s understandable. It’s safe to try and appeal to the masses. But the biggest audience possible isn't always the best audience possible. And the best dinner party always has something unexpected and memorable happen. So have an opinion, be weird, do something wild and MAKE them remember you! Example: The 2010 Never Say No to Panda ads. Arab Dairy’s Panda Cheese managed to have us talking about their ads for years. Still today they are making the rounds.
STAY HUMBLE & HONEST
“Uhm.. Don’t be a douche.”
No one likes a show off. If you go around your party boasting about your excellent cooking skills and unmatched good looks, people are going to have a bad time. The truth is, we’re all just winging it. We’re all simply giving it our best go and mistakes are bound to happen. Invite people into your “sumbling” journey, be authentic, transparent, inclusive and kind. It’s funny right? but people really like honest and nice people. Example: Today we see brands everywhere boasting about their sustainable efforts. How they have reduced their plastic here and are giving money there. Conveniently glossing over the fact many of them still make a hugely negative impact on the environment. If these brands instead took the position on sharing their journey to a better, more sustainable practice and were honest about their shortcomings I believe we would not only trust them more we could actually learn with them on the way. I will leave you with this. If you met a person on the street for the first time, what would make you like them? What would make you remember them? Gone are the days where brands were faceless, opinionless corporations. Today it’s that human element that counts. Whatever you do with your amazing brand, think back on how that interaction would be in real life. For example, I would not like you to slap a pop up in my face and ask for my email straight away... calm down darling, we’re still courting!