Skip navigation

People first: How to humanize your brand to capture attention.


People first: How to humanize your brand to capture attention. People first: How to humanize your brand to capture attention.

Key Takeaways

  • Authentic storytelling with real people humanizes brands and creates trust.
  • Storytelling should avoid exploiting someone's pain for profit.
  • Brands need a strong connection and care for subjects to use their story. A commitment to long-term authenticity creates a tangible connection.
  • Brand ethos must align with the moral or sentiment of the story.

If brands could build a definitive persona that revealed everything a consumer cares about when they're considering whether to use, buy, or trust a product—without any actual human involved in the process—life would be exponentially easier for marketing folk.

Just imagine it: an emotion-free nirvana of AI-produced spreadsheets dictating how to spin the yarn of your brand and business for maximum success.

For those of us who have spent decades selling a product, developing a brand, or garnering consumer attention, it might sound like a tempting proposition.

Apart from the one major flaw, of course: it wouldn't work.

Fact is—and yes, I've got my AI spreadsheet of data to back this up—real people and authentic storytelling are at the heart of adding authenticity, gravitas, and influence to any brand or business. Without them, we're truly nothing. People won't see us, like us, buy us, or engage with us at any level.

People believe people—not promotions

You don't have to look hard to find evidence that consumers react more favorably to, and are more influenced by, other people rather than companies.

The perfect example of this is social proof in the shape of reviews and testimonials—both ways to use real people to help create resonance with your audience and inspire trust in your brand.

The psychology behind social proof in digital marketing is actually quite simple. According to research, a whopping 91% of 18–34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. This is because we are prone to mirror the behavior we see in others when we are figuring out how to act or what to do. From choosing a new car to booking a vacation or switching energy providers, we are more influenced by other people, and what they say and do, than by anything else.

Image of Kerry McCarthy
Kerry McCarthy

Kerry has more than 20 years experience in both print and digital media, working for some of the UK and Australia's biggest publications, including The Huffington Post, The Sunday Telegraph, Marie Claire, Lonely Planet, Time Out and many more. While the first half of her career was as a newsroom and magazine print journalist and editor, Kerry now helps brands in sectors including health, insurance, education, and more, develop and grow through commercial storytelling.


Read more by this author