Humanizing your brand through crowdsourcing

Humanizing a brand enables a better customer experience, builds a sense of community, fosters a more personal connection, and boosts brand loyalty.

Written by Clive Reffell

Nov 26, 2023

Crowdsourcing is a powerful tool to help humanize a brand, which enables a better customer experience. By involving audiences in a range of business processes and initiatives it’s possible to build a sense of community, foster a more personal connection, and boost loyalty among a wide range of stakeholders that can include customers, social media followers, suppliers, distributors and stockists. Humanizing a brand can also become a valuable and powerful USP – it will be hard for competitors to copy it.

Here are four ways to use crowdsourcing to humanize a brand.

1. Ask people to contribute user-generated content

This could be anything from photos and videos to written testimonials or reviews. By featuring this content on your website or social media channels, you can showcase the real people behind your brand and create a more authentic and relatable image.

Accommodation company Airbnb encourages hosts to provide personalized recommendations and local insights to their guests, creating a sense of community and a connection between hosts and guests. Airbnb also allows customers to leave reviews and ratings of their hosts, which helps build trust and transparency in the platform.

2. Involve people in your product development process

This could include asking for feedback on prototypes or soliciting ideas for new products or features. By involving your customers in this way, you not only create a sense of ownership and investment in your brand, but you also gain valuable insights into their needs and preferences.

The cosmetics brand Glossier, for example, has built a large and dedicated following by involving customers in the product development process. Glossier regularly solicits feedback from its customers and uses this feedback to inform new product launches. This approach has helped Glossier create products that are tailored to its customers’ needs and preferences and has fostered a sense of community and shared ownership among its audience.

Toymaker LEGO invites people to suggest ideas for new playsets to incorporate in its range. In the latest round, the BrickLink Designer Program has whittled 185 entries down to five finalists going forward to a crowdfunding round. The set creators will be able to mobilize their own supporters, and the number of orders placed will determine which new set(s) make it all the way to production and distribution. 

3. A company can ask people to support its social causes or charitable initiatives 

Involving people in these efforts can create a sense of shared purpose and demonstrate a company’s commitment to making a positive impact in the world. 

One example is the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, which has a long history of using crowdsourcing to support environmental causes. In 2011, Patagonia launched the Common Threads Initiative, which invited customers to pledge to reduce their consumption of clothing and other goods. Patagonia also asked customers to send in their used clothing, which the company would then repurpose or recycle. This campaign not only helped Patagonia demonstrate its commitment to sustainability but also involved customers in the process of creating positive change.

Innocent Drinks, the smoothie maker, involved customers in its “Big Knit” marketing campaign. It asked people to knit cozy hats for Innocent smoothie bottles. The campaign not only generated substantial brand awareness and sales, but also raised money for charity.

4. Crowdfunding 

Crowdfunding is a non-traditional way for innovators to entrepreneurs to bring new products to market and offer equity to raise investment funding for privately-owned businesses. It can humanize a product or business in all the three ways already explained, and do more.

User-created content

Forums within the crowdfunding projects hosted by the various crowdfunding platforms provide an opportunity for people to express their views on a product or investment opportunity, and to ask questions and see what answers come from the crowd also interested in the same projects. Individuals can share their knowledge based on their work experience or leisure activities, which contributes to what can be termed “crowd wisdom.” The person or organization running the crowdfunding benefits from insights gained from this shared content that is created by possible purchasers or new shareholders.

Product development

Rewards-based crowdfunding enables innovators to get early versions of their products in the hands of early adopters. These people are sometimes only too willing to provide feedback to refine products before a final version is brought to market. Products that help resolve pain points on issues such as carbon emissions, and sustainability, or tackle social issues have a naturally greater appeal to consumers who share the same ideals.

Providing support to businesses that aim to tackle such issues can hit the same touchpoints when they run an equity crowdfunding round. Backers can feel good about themselves because they will have made a positive step to helping what’s usually a startup business that shares their same priorities. Some of them may think that simply giving an entrepreneur a helping hand is more valuable than any potential personal return on investment.

Crowdfunding is humanizing in its own right

Businesses that use crowdfunding create crowds of loyal followers, they are backers with a vested interest in the company’s performance. 

A UK fintech startup, the online bank Kroo, started from a simple, ambitious idea in 2016 – to be the first bank people trust and love, to be a bank with a conscience. It was already valued at over $150 million when it launched a round of equity crowdfunding in 2023. Raising money from retail investors was clearly not a necessity, though it demonstrated a commitment to the initial founding aims. 

Kroo CEO Andrea De Gottardo said the crowdfunding campaign was launched as an opportunity to “allow our customers and other retail investors to get involved.” “It’s mostly to enable people to join us on the journey, to create a sense of community rather than purely for the money raised there.” He added that his “long-term dream” for the company is to be predominantly customer-owned. 

Overall, crowdsourcing can be a powerful tool to help humanize your brand and build stronger connections with your audience. By involving your customers in the process of creating content or developing products, you can create a more authentic and relatable image, foster a sense of community, boost brand loyalty, and demonstrate your commitment to making a positive impact. Have you any examples you’d like to share with us?

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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