DivvyHQ Book Club: “Humanize Your Brand” by Jessica Ann

 In Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Organizational Change

Considering the speed and manpower requirements of the content marketing game, many practitioners have debated over whether small companies are at a disadvantage. Creating great content consistently is resource intensive. Large companies can throw more resources at these initiatives, so they should naturally be able to run (er, write) circles around smaller competitors….right? 

Well, larger companies have their own set of challenges. For starters, the scope of their product/service offerings are much larger, therefore the number of audiences they are targeting with content is much larger. Big companies also have to navigate through layers of traditional baggage (culture) and red tape (complicated approval processes). The content that ultimately gets published is often sterile, lifeless and mostly self-serving, because that’s what the legal department let through.

Small companies, on the other hand, don’t have many of those hurdles and are free to infuse passion, humor and voice into their online presence. The result? David is stealing Goliath’s lunch money in many industries around the globe.

David’s brand is more human, his content is connecting with his consumers on a personal level, and his company is building a deeper level of trust with each interaction.

Not Just a Company Size Issue

This issue of lifeless content is certainly not unique to big companies. Any size company can take the easier road and just spew lifeless noise. But we already have enough noise in the world. And that content is not doing your company any favors. 

I recently finished the book “Humanize Your Brand” by Jessica Ann and her message is clear: human content can give your brand a significant competitive advantage over your competition in today’s digital world. This book is jam-packed with tips and examples and I found myself thinking of many of our clients, big companies whose content teams are struggling with culture change and looking for ways to improve their content offerings. 

Throughout the book, Jessica uses Uber as a real-world metaphor to which most of us can relate. Imagine yourself on a journey to find a solution to a problem. You’re researching online and every website you visit is not getting you any closer to your destination. You’re getting stressed out and there’s NO PARKING anywhere!

Or, you could ping Uber and rely on your “human” driver that creates an engaging experience. Your Uber driver might provide good conversation, your choice of music, gum, maybe a bottle of water, and MAYBE a cell phone charger. With Uber, that experience is more comfortable, it’s more inviting, and it can even feel like home. 

“Human content is the edgy Uber of the web…it picks you up from where you are and takes you where you need to go.” – Jessica Ann

Too Human for Some Companies?

Sprinkled throughout the book are tips on ways to humanize your brand and infuse human attributes to create higher-quality content. Some tips are obvious, but some may be challenging due to cultural hurdles within organizations. For example, here are three (of many) tips that Jessica includes for ways to humanize your brand. 

  • Have no secrets – be transparent and open about your offering’s benefits AND shortcomings
  • Embrace and address fears
  • Admit mistakes that you or your company has made along the way 

These may be hard for a corporate exec to swallow. But I could argue that getting corporate marketers and executives out of their comfort zones is part of Jessica’s intention. If we don’t, our content may never connect. 

The book is definitely targeted to brand marketers and content producers who are trying to break the status quo and deliver more engaging content. My only criticism of the book revolves around some of Jessica’s philosophical meanderings that made me think that I was sitting in a guided meditation or yoga class. Only to find, Jessica is a certified yoga instructor. That explains it!

I get where she was going, though: Chapters like “Strip Your Soul Bare” and “Write from your Core” can be helpful in bringing mindful awareness to writers who are overwhelmed in their personal lives, and not able to get to the core of a meaningful story. 

I’ll leave you with my favorite line in the book, which perfectly summarizes my consumer experience with much of the crap content that brands create today:

“Are you selling me crap? Or do you actually give a crap?”

Your audience wants to know.

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