How to connect with your audience on a human level.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; your brand isn't just your logo. It's your business' personality, and how your target customers perceive you.
So what if you want to add more 'person' to that personality? Maybe you've been trying the whole 'formal, corporate and super professional' thing for a while and it's not working, or maybe you're interested in creating a brand with a real human focus.
Below are my best tips for developing a more personal and open brand and business personality...
1. Use Less 'we' and more 'You'
I mean this in two different ways;
1. If there is only one of you, don't feel the need to write 'we' instead of 'I', or 'us' instead of 'me'. There is no shame in being a solo business owner/self employed individual - in fact, you should own it! There are often many benefits to your customers if you are small (eg. a more personal experience, a sense of supporting independent biz owners, less overheads &/or VAT transferred into prices).
2. Talk less in the first person about what your business does (eg. 'I/we offer this', and 'I/we do this') and more in the second person by using the pronoun 'you' (eg. 'You will receive this' or 'you will gain that'). This makes the customer feel as though you are talking to them as a person, rather than talking at them.
2. show Natural, approachable photos
This isn't me dissing professional head shots - I obviously like them because I had my own taken by Olivia Bossert (see my About page)! However, you'll notice they are softer and more 'natural' than your traditional portraits.
For one thing, I'm smiling and standing in an approachable way (ie. no folded arms or weird awkward poses), plus we chose to shoot these photos outdoors by the sea - my favourite place!
Showing a bit of personality in your photos through your choice of clothing, positioning, backdrop etc. is a great way to make your brand feel more authentic, rather than a stark white background or no photos of people at all!
In my brand info packs that I send to clients, I even take it a step further with a photo of me and my dog at the beach!
3. Write in the active voice, not passive
Passive example: "The project kicked off with a moodboard creation, using the information provided by the client, and then moved onto the design stage."
Active example: "I worked closely with [client name] to create a moodboard that reflected their vision, before we got started on designing their space."
I personally think choosing an 'active' statement is a simple yet effective way of bringing a human element to your writing, and avoiding sounding too 'corporate'.
4. Share anecdotes & personal experience
Other than your About page, this may not be appropriate for your website, but certainly if you are writing a blog or posting social media updates, adding personal anecdotes to your copy is the best way to come across more personal & human! It's also a great way to ensure originality in your content too.
Caroline from Made Vibrant does this so well; in each article she writes, she includes a little personal story at the beginning. It's always relevant, always interesting, and always adds a unique personality to her posts!
5. be honest about mistakes
If you make a mistake in your business, whether that be one-to-one with a client or customer, or on social media/on your website, be honest and open about it. It's so much better to come out and say 'I made a mistake - really sorry about that, I'm now working to fix it!' than to try and sweep it under the carpet.
Again, it shows that behind the business, there is an actual person - a human who makes mistakes, which is totally normal and fine!
6. Reply to comments & engage
If you get comments on your blog or social media post, or someone shares your content, try your best to always reach out and thank them, or do the same and leave a comment on their stuff too.
I'm not perfect at this; I know I'm particularly rubbish at replying to things on Twitter, but when I do get the time I try to thank people for sharing my posts so that they feel like there's a real person there somewhere! (I like to use emojis too, to make it a little more personal!).
7. Don't hide things - including contact info!
I see this all the time - it usually involves something to do with your business' location or the fact you might work from home. I've heard of people hiding the fact that they have a family because they didn't want customers to think they'd be distracted by family stuff!
Like I said above, you have to own being a small business, because at this point it's likely to be something that makes you stand out and actually more appealing to people than large agencies or big corporate businesses. If you work from your shed, go ahead and share that! It' quirky, and that's what makes you you.
This also goes for your email address; I know it's tempting to just slap a contact form on your contact page and keep your email address private in case of the dreaded spam. But that doesn't say open and approachable to your customers; it says you're hiding away.
I've had my email address visible on the contact page of 2 of my websites for nearly 2 years and I've never had an issue with spam. Most email software (gmail, webmail) will have reasonable spam filters that are totally sufficient for small businesses.
8. Share, feature & Include your followers
Last but not least, make your followers and customers feel like they're actually connecting with you on a personal level, by featuring them on your website/blog/socials, or including them in decisions in your business.
You can do this by asking questions on your blog or social media, posting polls, asking for feedback or photos of customers using a product, or reaching out by email!