What is a “human brand”? Is the term just marketing fluff or can being human be an authentic behaviour for brands who want to do things differently and gain a competitive advantage by standing for something other than profit?
I’ve been working with the folk at Rooster Punk, exploring what it means to be a human brand in the financial services industry. I interviewed the leaders of brands including Metro Bank, Aviva, Co-op Bank, Virgin Money, Profile Pensions, Just and Squirrel to uncover the practical ideas they are taking to humanise their businesses.
You can read the series of ten stories in “Money Talks” a PDF download from Rooster Punk (grab it here).
We launched the report at a breakfast event earlier this month - in a Covent Garden pub - where I hosted a panel discussion with Rooster Punk CEO Paul Cash, and representatives from Metro Bank, Profile Pensions, Just and Squirrel (read about that event in this article from The Drum).
So what are the hallmarks of being a human brand? This is what we discovered:
You must have the right people. Hire for attitude, select people who believe in your mission
Your digital channels should be about improving the customer experience, not denying access to people
If your products and services feel very abstract, use storytelling to humanise your offering and build a connection with your audience
Walk in your customer shoes, understand their needs from their point of view
The brand promise shouldn’t just be a hollow marketing exercise, but you’ve got to live and breathe it. And if you don’t, be prepared to be called out!
Lifting the lid on the financial services industry was an eye opener. Conducting in depth research by talking to those at the heart of the organisation was an essential way to uncover the truth - and to see if they truly stood behind their claims. Telling the stories was one part. Getting some of these leaders together to debate on stage gave the project another layer, to test their claims about being human in front of their peers and a live audience. Let's face it, some research can be dull. Kudos to Rooster Punk for going with a refreshingly different story-led approach!
If you’d like to hire me to tell some stories in your organisation or industry, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Van der Zant, Business Development Director at Rooster Punk said, “Having worked closely with Ian before, it was a natural choice to work together on a piece of storytelling research in the UK financial industry. It was just a seed of an idea when we first engaged with Ian, and with his help we developed this piece into something that took on a real life and energy of its own. Ian’s energy and enthusiasm for story was the real foundation of success for the research.”