How Humanizing a Brand Can Make it Successful

A non-humanized company will be a sea of robots even if its products are 10x better than a competitor’s.

As early as the 70s, businesses wanted machine-like efficiencies to reduce operational cost, improve productivity and increase the bottom line. The rules of engagement were different. 

Transactions used to take place when companies and customers meet and after that separate ways.

It’s clearly a very dry and disconnected approach to treat customers.  There is no human touch to it.  But that was history. It’s a totally different story now.

Companies need differentiation, a human face and a personality that customers can relate to and engage with even after the sale. It is very important because their experience doing business with you is what will make them come back for another transaction.

Take an online apparel store, for example. Yes, its’ products are superb, affordable, and fashionable, but then, what experience could people get after buying? 

Would they return for more? Is the digital experience enough to engage them after this transaction?

No one is certain, but chances are higher if the brand is more human.

That’s where humanization comes in.  But what is it, anyway?

Also called anthropomorphism, humanization is putting a face to a brand and giving it human-like characteristics. This enables businesses to connect with customers who have congruent personalities like them.

Let’s take Apple, for instance. Not many people would reach for a Mac (because it is quite complicated to use). But why does it appeal to these customers? It’s different.

People who want to be different prefer it because they perceive the brand as “like them,” relating to their human-like traits – innovative and unique. 

Apple caters to customers who want to be unique because it appeals to innovative human nature and the ability to handle complexities. It signals consumers their identities and communicate to them that they’re like the “humans” that they would like to become. 

It is a perceptual and cognitive strategy that gives this brand a social meaning that facilitates its integration into their customer’s personality.

How it Drives Business Outcomes

So, representing your brand in an anthropomorphized way can create a positive outcome because it uses human traits to give customers a feeling of social connectedness with the business.

In the end, customers also develop brand love, which is deeper than brand liking and satisfaction, because it creates positive post-consumption/post-sale behavior, including brand loyalty, positive word-of-mouth and repurchase intentions.

Another case would be Disney. It becomes a globally successful brand for Mickey, its anthropomorphized mouse.  

In 2011 alone, it generated US$38 billion, but of course, it also owes its success to other anthropomorphized creations, like Donald, Minnie and Daisy and its annual merchandise sales. 

But the bottom line here is that people like real experiences and interactions even with “nonhuman” things, such as humanlike agents and objects. 

So, it is possible that brands are also seen as people because customers treat them as agents possessing humanlike traits and emotions. Imagine talking to animals or seeing human faces in the clouds.

The Trust Factor

In 1998, a study “Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research” by Susan Fournier also revealed that consumers may relate to a brand like a person, who they can build human-like relationships with.

Another case is Whataburger, a famous Texas burger chain that ventures into sneakers, which for me look much exactly like New Balance. However, the running sneakers with white, orange and gray do not feature their famous burgers. That’s a funny and hilarious idea, wasn’t it?  Of course, who in the world would think that Whataburger would sell shoes?

But again, it was a unique idea of humanizing the brand. It appeals to the customers that can connect to the weird side of human nature.

Then, there is Google Doodles that engages users with humor and that communicates even not-so-funny events in a humorous way.

Why not? People love a good laugh. And for a brand that puts a smile on their faces is a great deal. So even if you’re a serious brand, you should not think twice adding some humor to how you engage with customers who can relate so much to the message that you’re trying to convey to them. You don’t need to clown around all the time, though, but the point is, make your users feel good by trying to humanize your brand and marketing strategies in ways they can relate.

How to Connect with the Peronas You Paid Money to Develop

Why? A brand with a persona can trigger intentional action and connect with customers because it makes them feel that it represents them in a way.  Your brand has a relationship with your customers because they treat it like a human and as a part of them at the very least.

Your brand can create its persona through an icon/character representation. It can also create a culture where its soul represents its character.  Doing it properly, your customers can decode your brand’s stand and emotional meaning.

It can also help make your brand alive with identifiable features that give it understanding and enable communication and connection with users. However, humanizing it doesn’t only mean a human or symbol representation, but it’s about your story.

Know how to add value to user experience.  Offer them that comfort so that they feel good.

After all, customers would remember if your product/service gave them a satisfying experience or not.

Thus, what a business should be after for is to offer customers that comfortable experience, that feeling they can relate to, or that emotion they can remember, among other positive reactions to get from your brand in its entirety.

In it For the Long-Game

Humanization means humanizing the overall customer experience for a long-term engagement.   However, you need to do a holistic approach covering every stage of the process and learning how to develop the traits that your company should possess to become more human. And these things, I’d be glad to cover

May this serve as a message of hope that being human may very well be the best silver lining to all of our current vicissitudes.

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna

Founder & CEO, Corna Partners



Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



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