This publication is called [C], which I believe stands for “C-Suite”, so I assume I am talking to the boss. It’s nice to have the undivided attention of the top-level decision-maker for a few minutes so I’ll try to make the most of it. In this column, I will try to offer some advice to help your brand work harder for you and maybe avoid some common pitfalls.

This month, I want to implore you to be more human. Not you personally, but your brand. Sometimes I think we forget that brand communication is just people talking to other people.

Your customers will warm to the same kinds of attributes in your brand that human beings portray. Even if you have corporate brand guidelines which cover ‘positioning’ and ‘tone of voice’, you can go further and try to bring human qualities to your interactions at every touchpoint. Brands, like people, can be generous, confident, respectful, helpful, funny or any of a thousand other things. In our hyper-connected world, the opportunities to interact in-person with your customer abound, so make the most of them and learn from brands like Wendy’s and, most recently, Weetabix who have made this an art form.

So, what practical steps can you take to make your brand more human?


Most marketing or brand positioning exercises start with a discovery phase to try to dig up a ‘consumer insight’ or ‘find empathy’ with a customer. This is often the most tortuous and difficult part of a project, as Frank from accounts and Marjory from HR wrestle to find something to write on the whiteboard before the 10-minute time limit is up. Every consumer is someone’s best friend, someone’s uncle or the nice gentleman who walks his dog in the park. Is it that hard to think like them, to observe how they act, to empathise with their joys and struggles? If you are struggling, why not just go down to the park and ask them?


The marketer’s imperative is to get as many sales in the door today as they can, while in human-centric branding we try to build ways to connect with people so that we don’t have to harass them constantly with targeted ads and promos and KOL’s and viral videos. They just use our brand because it’s the one they always use and we have built a strong and lasting relationship with them.


Is your brand funny, trustworthy, studious, flamboyant, likeable, inspiring? The way your brand looks, behaves, speaks and interacts with people defines its personality. If you stop and think about it for a minute, you probably already know what your brand culture is so just embrace that and amplify it at important touchpoints with your customers.


If you fall down as a brand, stand up, dust yourself off and move on. As long as you are honest and humble, the market will forgive you (and probably like you more).


Great brand cultures are created by good people and lived by everyone. Be nice.

If you would like me to discuss a particular topic related to branding in a future issue, please drop an email to

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Tim Burrill
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