Being human is gold dust for your business.
Why? Because people buy people.
That’s why McDonald’s has dumped its fluorescent bulbs for atmospheric lighting, why Lloyds Bank has squishy checked sofas instead of hard office chairs, and why the Royal Bank is now ‘for’ Scotland not ‘of’ Scotland.
They want to remove the barrier between us and them and to be our friends. To make the shiny and corporate seem more homely and personable, so we’ll be more likely to trust them and part with our money.
So independent, home grown, bespoke, local = in. Corporate, uniform, mass produced, robotic = out.
But fluff it up, and you end up looking silly
Like when politicians try to be like us…
Is that guacamole?
When grandee of spin Peter Mandelson visited a fish and chip shop in his Hartlepool constituency and mistook mushy peas for the avocado-based dip, his man-of-the-people score dropped into serious deficit.
Down with the kids
When Gordon Brown was PM, he had two toddlers, one eye and a tricky job. We wouldn’t seriously have expected him to be up-to-date with the latest music as well. But he pressed on and claimed to love the Artic Monkeys. Then was embarrassingly rumbled when he failed to name any of their tracks.
Mixing up your teams
In an election speech in 2015, chief toff denier David Cameron forgot his lines when he urged people to support West Ham, forgetting his favourite team was supposed to be Aston Villa.
Of course it’s possible for Boden wearing, ex-Etonian, cousins of the Queen to also be fans of the beautiful game, but if you’re going to stretch credibility, at least get the basics right.
So how to avoid this? It’s simple really
It has to be authentic, consistent and relevant to your target audience.
Before fleshing out who you are, decide on how ‘you’ you’re going to be. What’s your brand story and which parts of it are you going to communicate? Not all of it will be relevant, but once you’ve distilled it, stick to it, and it will ring true.
People will come to recognise it, be able to identify you more easily, and connect with you and the service you offer.
- If you’re a dynamic, energetic, growing company, publicise that new recruit.
- If you’re big on your culture and people, promote that work anniversary.
- If you’re raising money for charity, document your marathon training.
- If you’re open, friendly and allow pets in the office, put your dog on your people page.
Bigger businesses – and politicians – don’t have the means to show their human side subtly, so they grasp at things symbolically hoping they’ll cover all bases. Then when it doesn’t work, they swap it for something else.
The annoying thing is they think we won’t notice.
Because you already care deeply about what you do and why you’re doing it, the hard work has already been done. Now it’s just a question of teasing it out.
As Seth Godin says “If it acts like a duck (all the time), it’s a duck. Doesn’t matter if the duck thinks it’s a dog, it’s still a duck as far as the rest of us are concerned. Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not ‘being who you are’. That’s because.. Internal vision is always blurry. Doing, on the other hand, is an act that can be seen by all.”
Give me a buzz if you’d like to chat.