Brand Matters: A Little Human Touch

Tito Beveridge lets his personality and passion for distilling shine through in this Tito’s Handmade Vodka print ad.

Carhartt’s “Behind the Counter” program gives prospects and customers the chance to get 
to know their local Carhartt retailers better.

Don’t let your brand personality get upstaged by its tech-savviness

Premium ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s places a major premium on people. Here’s one of its stated “progressive values”: “We strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.”

How does your brand show respect for all the human beings inside (employees) and outside your company (customers)? Just how human is your brand?

Many years ago, futurist and author John Naisbitt wrote about the megatrend of “high-tech/high touch.” In my consulting work, I’ve found that companies spend quite a bit of time on the techy-ness of their brands, but not so much on the high touch-ness of their offerings. How much human touch is part of your current brand experience? I believe this is one of the most overlooked aspects of branding, and yet one of the best ways to set your brand apart from your competitors.

What are some ways you can express your brand personality this year? Let’s look at a few ways some companies are creatively leveraging their human touch:

Concierge Services
A variety of industries are borrowing a bit of hospitality gleaned from the travel sector. The idea of offering “concierge service” is taking customer service to all new levels. Medical professionals (ranging from those working in centers such as the Mayo Clinic to individual doctors in private practices) are working intentionally to enhance the personal aspects of their patient relationships. According to its website, the Mayo Clinic Medallion Program in Scottsdale, Ariz., includes:

  • a highly personalized health assessment and ongoing health management program with immediate and continuous access to a personal doctor;
  • availability of your personal doctor or a Medallion colleague on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year;
  • a convenient, personalized coordination of appointments;
  • dedicated time with your personal doctor;
  • access to your doctor by phone or email to discuss your concerns; and
  • private care in a serene, unhurried atmosphere.

Dr. Michelle Eads, a family medicine practioneer in the Rocky Mountains, always wanted to spend more time with her patients on wellness and prevention. Her boutique, concierge-driven approach allows her to do just that. Eads says, “The model for Pinnacle Family Medicine was designed to accomplish several things: personalized care, efficiency, accessibility, whole-person care and low overhead. I have been thrilled with this [concept of a] ‘Norman Rockwell practice using 21st century technology,’ as the original physician who started this model describes it.”

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of IER Partners, which has guided and strengthened brands of all sizes with savvy best practices for creating customers for life. Combining her passion of adventurous listening and working across diverse industries, her "outsider-insider" creative branding and merchandising expertise and objectivity has been valued by companies as diverse as Spanx, Ben & Jerry's, Celestial Seasonings, CHEFS and Boston Proper.  She holds an MBA and has dedicated more than 20 years to providing clients both domestic and international with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She is the author of  two books in which she shares her hands-on approach for both brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators, and BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants. You may reach her at
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