LEVERAGING AUTHENTIC VOICES TO HUMANIZE YOUR BRAND

It is time to shift from campaigns to conversations.

People are tired of being sold to! Your consumer is looking for brands to fall in love with on their own and make their own decision on the products that best fit their needs. Brands that constantly focus on pump-out products and campaigns like machines are coming across as untrustworthy, which leads to loss of credibility. In a time where we over-communicate so much through technology and robots, people want to talk to other people.

The post-pandemic will accelerate in the era of human-centered storytelling. If you have not adapted your approach to this current and very present need, then you are at the cusp of losing touch and emotional connection with your audience.

But, don’t worry! With every change comes an opportunity.

The good news is that your brand is already made up of people. There are plenty of people who are craving the need for more human interaction and ready to advocate for brands with purpose-driven messages — as long as they are authentic to your brand values. All you have to do is hold yourself accountable for it! Bringing people to the forefront of your storytelling makes your brand feel warm and welcoming. It allows people to feel like they can develop a meaningful relationship with your brand. It humanizes it. When people feel like they have a personal relationship with your brand, it creates loyalty and trust, which will keep them coming back. And converts consumers into advocates!

While it’s important for brands to show their own people as being the operators behind the curtain when crafting campaigns, brand employees might not have the reach or persuasive abilities as someone who does this for a living. This is where finding the voices that matter comes in. These people are not the traditional digital influencers, and they are key opinion leaders that have authority and credibility in their field of expertise. They can create both credibility and increase visibility for your brand. Finding the right voices to communicate your brand’s big ideas will elevate any marketing campaign. Most of the time, people want to stay culturally connected, up-to-date on the latest trends, and relevant. They look to key opinion leaders to find the next, best, and brightest of any product, services, and experiences in the current market. Building an integrated activation platform can give you agility and a higher impact on your brand to connect consumers.

The challenge comes in when looking to identify the perfect match for your brand and your message. Like snowflakes, no two people are quite the same. They appeal to different audiences, have different levels of interaction with their fans, admire people of different demographics, and create different relationships with consumers for your brand. Ideally, every campaign will have a mix of different voices to reach the maximum number of people.

The first thing to consider when selecting the perfect key opinion leaders for your brand is their reach and engagement. There are benefits to every scale of reach throughout the spectrum.

High Impact Ambassadors will be the rock stars of your campaign. Their star power speaks for itself. They will have the most visibility and the largest audience and include high-profile celebrities, athletes, or models.

The Innovators are the stars-on-the-rise, but with a twist. These are the trends, setters, the people to watch. If used properly, innovator influencers can make your brand stand out like no other.

The last stage is the Grassroots Voices. These are the popular but still smaller scale influencers. The benefit to Grassroots Influencers is that they often have a niche following to target particular audiences for your brand. Additionally, their smaller following allows for greater interaction and higher engagement with their followers, further developing the audiences’ relationship with your brand.

These three archetypes can be profiled into even more specific definitions for a purposeful selection. Going from the High Impact to Innovators to Grassroots you have:

  • Brand Fit: People with authentic affinity to brand values or friends of the brand
  • Credibility: People that bring relevance and authority both in and outside of your brand’s space are key opinion leaders that shape consumer views
  • Style Leaders: People with distinctive style, a disrupter of the space, they are respected for trailblazing, they are always one step ahead
  • Resonance: People with aligned values or beliefs are highly engaged across platforms and act with integrity and a purpose-driven mission
  • Relevance: People who are accessible and attainable to the brand audience, they are active users of your products or service and have a potential for exponential growth

A combination of different profiles of these voices will create a well-rounded mix of touchpoints to connect consumers with the different dimensions of your brand. Having this variety will allow your brand to be associated with the popularity and star power of larger key opinion leaders while still giving it the accessibility and familiarity that micro-influencers offer.

How different types of voices are leveraged is equally important to select the right archetype for your brand. Your brand should use each persona in engagements that play to their strengths and authentic way to your brand values. It should feel natural that the influencer is using or speaking about your brand in their storytelling.

Here is a short example of what this could look like.

Would you want Kendall Jenner to explain the medical benefits of each ingredient in your new vegan face wash? Maybe we leave that one for the medical opinion leaders. But Kendall is a perfect fit for posting on Instagram that she uses face wash because it leaves her with flawless skin. Using various influencers is like putting together many different puzzle pieces to create one cohesive, beautiful picture of your brand. Each key opinion leader plays an integral role in telling a deeper brand story. However, each of them will fit into the story differently.

Having a voice that represents your brand values allows consumers to peel back the curtain that can make brands seem like emotionless machines and look in to see that bands really are just people. They can form relationships with people they can count on, people they can trust. The human element makes your marketing campaign personal. It makes consumers feel connected. This connection is invaluable when it comes to building brand loyalty and making sales. The connection between people to people and then people to brands is everything.

By creating these connections through different levels of influencers, brands will create impactful, accessible, and meaningful content that will drive their organization forward.

CMO at Saucony | Executive Board Member at Erwin Center For Brand Communications | Adjunct Professor at Clemson University.