The Human Brand

So, this is essentially a re-blog of an idea I threw up on a now defunct Tumblr about something I’ve been thing about for some time.  Namely, that the primary obstacle that prevents brands from connecting more effectively with people is that they don’t allow themselves to exhibit uniquely human characteristics.  I’m recycling this post, because 14 months later I find myself returning to the same notion, with more evidence that it might actually be useful.  Please share your thoughts, as this is far from complete.

I feel more strongly than ever that brands must serve as a sort of living, breathing companion to the individual.  But, it’s not enough to simply display humanistic tendencies, brands must use them as the basis for growth and innovation.

By human tendencies I mean the development of an opinion or point of view, the desire to form new bonds and to assist in the connection of likeminded individuals, the capacity to listen and empathize and entertain, all while creating something of value.

With all of this laid out, I found myself more lost than when I began, so I set out to simplify and organize the key human tendencies that might apply to brand evolution.  What followed was a preliminary model based on the key characteristics possessed not just by average people, but highly functioning people. It is by no means comprehensive at this point, but represents what I think is a very solid first draft.

Three main tendencies make up our ideal human (or brand): growth, connection and production.


Characterized by the natural desire to learn new information and skills, develop behaviors that indicate greater social responsibility and heightened consciousness, as well as a desire to seek out new experiences and cultivate of an increasingly more evolved point of view and unique identity.


Demonstrated by the tendency to share knowledge and opinions, form new bonds and strengthen existing ones, engage in two-way dialogue, and connect other like-minded entities.


Exhibited as the will to create for the sake of self expression and the unwavering belief in a better tomorrow.

All three components are of equal importance for the human brand and are mutually dependent on one another.  For example, the development of a more complex point of view is meaningless if it is not shared with others and used to create something new.  Similarly, seeking out and engaging in new experiences lacks significance if it doesn’t serve as a means for connection with other likeminded individuals.

The model isn’t worth anything if it isn’t applied as a means for growth, in this case to ask the right questions that will lead to the formulation of intelligent strategies.  For example, if a sports apparel brand realized that it wasn’t connecting with high school youth, it could use this framework to pinpoint areas of potential weakness like a lack of a formulated identity that resonated with young people, or a failure to share their years of accumulated knowledge about sport performance.  The next step would then be to reverse these statements to become questions, like how can we more effectively share our vast body of knowledge about performance to create a devoted following?

With this preliminary model in place, we can begin to develop strategies that are more in line with the needs of today’s consumer.


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