What’s In A Face?
Would you trust a company without a face?
Who are they? Who, who? Who, who? (hopefully, you read that with the song playing in your head)
If you are a start-up or a small or mid-scale company, having a face to back up what you offer is very, very important. This week’s podcast is a deep dive into the importance of a face for your business. We also look at some risks and downsides too.
Let’s get started!
Noah: Today, we're going to talk about what's in a face. Should you add your face to your marketing and your brand?
James: And we're going on to talk about a few points here. Building trust (does it help?), Standing out and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors, aligning with your brand and (finally) Consistency. And that's going to be an interesting one because it's not what you think when we say consistency.
Building Trust and Standing Out
James: This is basic human nature; it doesn't even need explaining or talking about, but adding a face to your company or adding a face to your brand like we're doing right here, basically, talking to you face to face a little bit is about establishing trust. Because we're just saying stuff as it is, and you're hearing us, and you're seeing what we do, you know our knowledge base and our experience.
Imagine: If a black curtain drops down across your company and it's nameless, faceless, anonymous, would you trust it? It could be run by one person in their basement or could be a thousand people, but they happen to all be overseas, and you wouldn't know. It’s a complete lack of trust-building.
The opposite of having a face on your brand is having absolutely no face, no people and no names, and you're so anonymous to the point that people question if it’s even a legit company.
Have you run across that when you're dealing with some companies?
Noah: I think it really depends on the company, too. I think Realtors know this best, obviously. They're selling themselves, so that's why they put their face on everything. Because it's important.
James: They have their flag, which is their realtor brand. They might be working for ReMax or Century21 or whatever it is, but it's them they are trying to sell. They are their business. It’s the same as solopreneurs, like people involved in public speaking, industry experts on a certain topic… You are your brand.
But what if you have a different brand, like a company where there are five people, or there are 50 people, or there are 500 people? What about those cases?
Noah: When you are running a large company, and you have a board, and you’re potentially a publicly traded company, there's a different Persona that you need to embody. Your role could evaporate at any moment, so putting a face to that brand might actually hurt it in the long run. For example, if the board decides to vote you out or if you leave the company, they're left without that face.
A great example would be, Elon Musk is Tesla, right? And his face is synonymous with that. But if his board ever shifts or if they ultimately decide to remove him, you don't want that.
James: That's a really, really strong example of why you don't want your face on your brand. If you capitalize on the positives for too long and too many times, how are you going to exit? How are you going to sell that business? How are you going to move on to something else when the brand = you? That's actually a risk and a strength. There's a double-edged knife there, for sure.
Noah: And we are under a lot more scrutiny, too, as individuals. Should anything arise where you get in trouble with the public, that's going to damage the brand, and so the board will not want your face synonymous with the brand because you may be playing it fast and loose with your morals.
Those are the downsides.
All the positive sides would be all this building trust and standing out. Your face is your face, and only you can own that. If you're selling yourself or a local product or service, it’s very important to put a face to that.
James: It establishes trust, and it does help you stand out versus companies that aren't putting a face on the brand. Those two points, building trust and standing out, are almost like part of the same sandwich.
Aligning With Your Brand
James: Having a face that aligns with your brand is usually the case, but I've come across brands that have spokespersons or “faces” that are actually a little strange. It’s a weird angle to take because they're standing out, but they're also polarizing their alignment. They (the face) only align with one part of the population and misalign with the other. But what if the face ends up misaligning with a big part of the population that contains a majority of the customer base? Customers may think that this isn't the company for them and maybe they should work with somebody else or buy from somebody else. I've come across that a few times. When having the face on the brand, you are inherently putting the style, the voice, the personality and everything. It fuses together with that person, and they better be on-brand.
Noah: Your personal character comes into play a lot of the time. So if it is your brand and your baby and something you've built and something you own and you live and breathe the brand, I think it's very important to show that to people. I think we've done a really good job with Fresh Air. They are a great client with a great brand persona, and their spokesperson is bang on. He lives and breathes the brand, and he's the perfect embodiment of building trust and localization.
James: He's (Ryan) one of the owners, so he's going to be there for a while, and that's important. Fresh Air actually has a couple of different faces of the business, and they all do a really good job and they bring out different aspects in different parts of the brand message. Sometimes it's girls, sometimes it's guys, and they kind of trade around with faces. It's a really cool example of brand alignment.
James: If you are going to put your flag in the sand and say, “Here I Am, My name is James/ Noah,” and you're going to be putting yourself out there, and you do it five times and then disappear off the face of the Earth, you're hurting your brand. Consistency is simply once you start, you have to keep going. It’s like advertising and marketing repetition. Over time, the longevity itself builds trust and reputation.
There are definitely some pros and cons to “adding a face to your brand,” and you have to give some deep thought to it. There are so many Pros, but there are some risks there as well.
Noah: If you are a service-based business, I think putting a face to your company is probably worth any risk. If you offer any services, it's personal, it's one-on-one, and people want to see your face. They want to hear from you, and it adds so much credibility.
If you start to drift into other (business) categories, then you have to weigh your pros and cons, but the pros far outweigh the cons when you're a service-based business.
James: If you're a service-based business, it's not just about adding a face; it's about adding faces. I think people want to know who they're doing business with - who's on the other side and having all your people out in the open with their bios and their profiles and their LinkedIn pages and their phone numbers and their extensions and their email addresses - yeah it's totally transparent, but people love that.
People Love Seeing People.
James: We see that one of the most popular pages of any website - and these are companies of all different sizes, small and big (unless they're Mega corporations), is the About page / the team page / our company page. These are the second or third most visited pages of most websites. If you go to the “our people / our team/company or about us and there's literally not a single face on the page, but only a generic bunch of paragraphs, no photos and no names, you feel like you have no idea who is behind this company; and it's a Service Company.
It's like an instant bounce for me, like no, there's got to be a better company than this. I want to know who's who, simple as that.
Noah: Studies have shown that using a human face in social media posts can significantly increase engagement and reach. And I agree with that because every time we post on Social, posts with faces are getting far more engagement, and you see that in every stat that we do - when we AB test any of our creatives, anything with a human face in it is just getting more engagement on social. The same thing happens on people's websites; it turns into sales, so there's another study that was done where they tested ads with a face and ads without a face, and the one with a face had a 10% higher conversion rate, which turned into revenue. The bottom line is that it was either a sale or a sign-up, right? So faces are important!
Aww… Baby Lions!
James: Many brands use animals as their faces, and this works - because we have such a connection with animals, especially ones that we know really well. Dogs and cats, some farm animals perhaps, but dogs and cats very specifically like the cute ones and the ones that are protective. There are all sorts of Brands using all sorts of animals -
Noah: Telus is the first one that comes to mind.
James: Telus always uses a quirky animal, like a lizard or a parrot, or I've seen them use cows and donkeys; they used an alpaca once, so they're really, really cool animals and then big Brands like Geico in the US, the insurance company, they have the gecko, and there's Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes, and there's all sorts of ones in children's products and stuff.
Noah: That's why you can't place it (Animal faces) on cannabis. No cannabis brand can have an animal face or a human face because it appeals to children.
James: Oh, interesting. So there you go. There's some food for thought about putting some faces to (brand) names and all that. It definitely gives us some thoughts; there are pros and cons, so weigh it out for yourself and your own company and take action.
And if you need help, we're here - this face is James, and this face is Noah.
Check out our previous episode: Are You Making The Most Of Your Google Business Profile?
“Between Two Creeks” is Twin Creek Media’s weekly podcast series. You can find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. If you enjoy listening to the latest and wonkiest in marketing every week, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button! If you want us to amp up your marketing, click here to contact us and let’s chat!