In a world where we are connected more than ever, it’s startling to see how many companies still feel hollow or insincere. Most large businesses remain cryptic and are often vilified or portrayed as untrustworthy. One reason these brands fail to maintain a positive image is that they lack the essential human components that allow people to connect with them.

The handful of companies who successfully humanize their brand always flourish and maintain renowned reputations. Companies like Zappos, for example, are celebrated for their accessible customer service and unique company culture. When you call Zappos, you interact with a real human being — one without a script or an agenda. This type of human interaction creates trust, comfort, and a sense of reliability for shoppers. That’s why 75% of all Zappos customers are returning customers.

Your Brand’s Pulse

Does your company feel human? Are you connecting with customers in an intimate way? Give people the chance to understand your brand by sharing your story, remaining relatable, and expressing empathy.

Trade shows and exhibitions provide the perfect opportunity to humanize your brand and solidify that sentiment in people’s mind. The interactions at your company’s exhibit space produce an energy that is exclusive to face-to-face marketing, such as the magic of eye contact, body language, and real-time response.

What’s Your Story?

To tell a story is to be human. Since ancient times, we’ve passed intriguing narratives down from generation to generation. Really, a world without stories is a world without human beings. These tales are an intrinsic element of our culture — they inspire us, compel us, connect us, and shape our values and ideas. By telling your company’s story, you humanize your brand in the most natural way.

Do customers know why your company exists? Pinpoint what is unique, inspiring, and relatable about your brand and express those ideas at your exhibit. Take the time to write your company’s narrative in a way that is compelling and relevant to attendees, and include that history in your brochures, products, and handouts. You could even tell your story on-screen by producing a short-film or documentary about the founders’ inspiration behind the brand.

Communicating these narratives will give attendees something to believe in and a story to be inspired by. When you tell your company’s story in an honest way, you prove that your brand is more than just a logo and a stack of cash-flow statements — it’s a distinct entity that’s made up of unique individuals. As new customers realize this, they’ll trust your image and feel comfortable standing by your products or service.

Be Congruent

As you strive to humanize your brand, treat your marketing strategy like you’re a person who is trying to connect with someone new. This means it’s essential to remain clear, relevant, and congruent when communicating.

When human beings interact with someone new, we quickly decide if we can trust them — most times, this decision is made subconsciously. We have a natural inclination for noticing when a person is being dishonest or incongruent. It’s almost as if we unconsciously examine whether the person is being clear about their intentions and congruent in what they’re expressing.

People go through this same process when experiencing your brand. So, if your marketing strategies feel vague, incongruent, or irrelevant to the attendee, they will have a negative response to your effort to relate with them. If your attempts to humanize your brand feel disingenuous, attendees will likely have a “bad feeling” about your company and hesitate to trust your image.

State your truth and don’t cast too broad of a net. By being clear in your intentions and expressing what your company is all about, you’re much more likely to attract customers who are passionate about the same things. These are the type of customers you want — people who will be loyal and stand behind your brand because they share the same beliefs about the world. You can only attract these people if you share your brand’s vision in deliberate and honest way.

Humanize Your Exhibit

The expo floor is the ideal environment to humanize your brand — there just is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. If your brand ambassadors have a deep understanding of your company’s story and vision, they can clearly communicate it to attendees in a way that feels congruent and trustworthy. This will allow them to quickly build rapport with attendees, attracting loyal customers who are passionate about your company. The combination of all of these factors makes your brand feel more relatable, trustworthy, and human.