More important than making a lot of noise as a brand is connecting on a deeper, longer-lasting level. In recent years we’ve seen a rise of “emotional branding” and messaging that is “authentic.” But is it really human?

We are living in an increasingly digitalized world, to the point where the concept of authenticity becomes incredibly difficult to determine. The power of algorithms offer a tremendous opportunity for precise targeting, but also pitfalls in being perceived as “creepy.” How can a brand utilize the power of emerging tech and the hyperconnectivity of consumers while also remaining human? Here are five proven techniques hand-picked by digital Ethicist David Ryan Polgar and Crystalyn Stuart, President of 5Loom.



1. Make your brand “dateable”

Would you date your brand? People are drawn to personality, but oftentimes a brand lacks a distinct and memorable personality. In an effort to appeal to the largest possible crowd, brands often dilute themselves to the point of being interchangeable. If your brand was a person, what would he or she look like? What are their hobbies, age, looks? What does your brand do on the weekends? If you were creating a dating profile for your brand, what would it look like?

Once you determine WHO your brand is, you can then showcase your brand’s personality. Part of ensuring a sense of personality is not talking like a robot, it is communicating in a way that injects the brand’s DNA into the language you’re using.

See how your brand stacks up:


2. Embrace real two-way communication

The explosion of social media has made it incredibly easy for brands to communicate with customers and potential customers. What is often forgotten, however, is that social media is set up to be “social.” Being social entails two-way communication where participants are engaged in conversation, not sold to like a pitch.

You know that feeling of annoyance you get when someone is spending all of their time talking to you but never stops to listen? That’s the way people feel when brand communication is entirely geared towards the needs of the brand, and not towards the needs and desires of the person at the other end of the message. People want to be engaged, not shouted at.

See how our team explores two-way dialogue in this hilarious live-action play depicting a “brand” at a party.

3. Evolve and grow

Society is constantly changing, but is your brand evolving with it? Humans age, and so should brands. This doesn’t mean that a brand should lose it uniqueness in an effort to stay current, but it should recognize that passage of time in order to remain relevant. A great example of a brand that has proudly kept their look and feel while also aging is Mr. Peanut. A recent commercial had Mr. Peanut as an over-the-top motivational speaker, which allowed the character to stay current and humorous. At the same time, Mr. Peanut still proudly wears his top hat and monocle. He’s aged while keeping his unique features.

4. Find your brand’s version of empathy

A hallmark of being human is displaying empathy. Likewise, a brand should embrace a sense of empathy with their branding and promotion—especially when trying to capture a current trend or meme. A key aspect of displaying empathy involves understanding how a message will be perceived across multiple platforms and various audiences. A common mistake involves a brand trying to inject themselves into a conversation without being sensitive to the emotions of the end user.

For example, brands often try injecting themselves into days of remembrance like MLK Day without understanding that sometimes a brand tie-in and pun can come across as crass.

5. Be thoughtful, not creepy

We want other humans to know us well, but not cross the threshold into being “creepy.” We want a loved one to know our favorite movies, food, and activities, but are turned off if they were to recite where we were at every moment in the day. Big Data and the use of algorithms offer a tremendous opportunity to better understand one’s audience, but it also presents the danger of being perceived as knowing too much.

At the end of the day, people desire to feel unique. Utilizing an algorithm that pinpoints exactly what a person should do makes their choices seem pre-determined, which may be a turn-off.

View our 3×5 presentation on deconstructing modern marketing tactics:

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6. Get real

We believe there are 6 tenets of a human brand:


Can you check off everything on this list? Maybe it’s time to dial up your human quotient.

Contact us to schedule a consultative workshop.