Humanizing Brands: Lessons from Connect
Michela Stribling 270006VAX7 firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  craig_hayman humanize bryan_kramer ibmconnect connect2014 social_business personalization socbiz h2h relationships
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On Sunday morning, I grumpily boarded a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Orlando. I’m a nervous flyer to begin with and leaving on a Sunday always throws my schedule into disarray. Basically, I was quite a stressed when I got on the plane and took my seat.
A few minutes later, I heard a man making his way down the aisle. He was loud, he was boisterous, and he was headed toward the back of the plane. It was none other than the captain. He was walking the length of the plane to greet every passenger personally and to shake some hands. He said he was grateful we’d chosen to fly United and that he’d do his best to get us to Orlando on schedule.
Wow. Now I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time an airline captain took the time to say hello to every passenger. Captain Bob kept us up to date throughout the duration of the flight, speaking clearly and slowly into the microphone (again, when does that ever happen?). He not only got us into Orlando 15 minutes early, he also came out of the cockpit to say a final goodbye to us.
Coincidentally, I was en route to IBM Connect 2014 where a recurring theme has been how to humanize brands, moving away from the corporate speak of years past to something much more real. Craig Hayman, general manager, Industry Solutions and Smarter Workforce/Collaboration Solutions, IBM Software, touched on this point in his keynote speech when he said that customers and citizens expect to be treated as individuals. Scott Hebner, vice president, Social Business Solutions, IBM, then said that social business will drive the rise of the individual, and marketing will therefore become more of a value-added service. That’s why the next generation of marketing leadership will be dominated by people who can drive personalized campaigns and programs. This theme continued on Twitter, where Bryan Kramer, CEO of PureMatter, said that the debate shouldn’t be about business-to-business (B2B) versus business-to-consumers (B2C), but about human-to-human (H2H) conversations. Social business combined with big data and analytics allow companies to start and sustain these kinds of relationships at scale.
Throughout the conference I’ve thought back to Captain Bob and my United flight. Brand messaging has become indistinguishable from employee behavior, which in turn is now highly visible thanks to social. Captain Bob’s simple greetings took probably ten minutes but made a lasting and very personal impression about United. Now imagine if you could do the same thing, but at scale.