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Brand humanity isn’t just about being


Brand humanity isn’t just about being


A new study uncovers the attributes that make brands more ‘human’ in the eyes of the consumer. 

This article is sponsored by Braze to let readers know about its ‘Humanity in Action: What Customer Engagement Is, Why it Matters and What You Need to Know’ ebook »

Brands today are exploring ways to build more human connections with their followers and target customers. In part, it’s in response to privacy concerns and regulatory crackdowns that have forced some back to more traditional means of outreach and engagement. Mainly, however it’s because great humanity in marketing works. Braze, in partnership with Forrester, tested the hypothesis that brands that communicate with customers in a way that feels human will achieve higher customer affinity and engagement that will lead to improved business results. The results of this ‘Brand Humanity Index’, a global study asking more than 3000 consumers to recall a recent brand experience and whether or not it felt human, affirmed the belief – consumers respond better when brands display human qualities. 

Many marketers interpret the idea of human brands as the need to be funny, heartwarming, or casual. In reality, however, this is not what’s working best with consumers. The study also asked participants what about the experiences made them feel human and quirky, fun and amusing characteristics were among the weakest predictors of customer engagement.

So what’s working?

The study considered emotional attributes – 30 provided terms like ‘friendly’, ‘thoughtful’, and ‘fun’ – and functional attributes – 18 provided terms like ‘values my time and business’ and ‘understands my likes and dislikes’ to describe the experience form a utility perspective. Here are the top nine emotional attributes most likely to drive perceptions of brand humanity:

  1. Responsive
  2. social
  3. friendly
  4. thoughtful
  5. helpful
  6. personable
  7. intelligent
  8. honest, and
  9. reassuring. 

And here are the top 10 functional attributes:

  1. Speaks like a regular person would
  2. shows it values my time and business
  3. communicates with me in the tone I want it to
  4. is responsive to me when i need it
  5. sends me clear, understandable messages
  6. shows it understands what matters to me right now
  7. communicates with me at convenient times
  8. communicates with me using preferred contact method
  9. provides great recommendations, and
  10. understands my preferences and avoids what I don’t like.

From these attributes, the study compiled four levers that brands can utilise to utilise their audience’s perceptions of brand humanity. They are:

  • The ‘natural’ lever: 36% of a brand’s perceived humanity stems from its ability to communicate like a regular person, in a tone that resonates, in a style that’s clear and easy to understand.
  • The ‘emotional lever: 33% of brand humanity comes from tapping into customer emotions by being responsive, friendly, thoughtful and helpful. This is the second strongest driver of perceived humanity but the strongest driver of purchase intent and overall satisfaction.
  • The ‘personal’ and ‘considerate’ levers: these two combined make up the remaining 31%. They describe a brand’s ability to come across as knowing a customer personally and using that knowledge to take considerate action.

How can your marketing and CX, with all its new tech, in this world of distraction and noise, deliver on the above in human ways? It’s a long-term commitment that may prompt you to go back through your comms, interfaces and content.


To understand how you can apply a humanity focus to your brand – from acquisition, to engagement, to retention, to loyalty and advocacy – grab your copy of ‘Humanity in Action’.




Ben Ice

Ben Ice was MarketingMag editor from August 2017 - February 2020

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