Written by: Imogen Short, Chief Creative Officer, Hong Kong
“100% of customers are people. 100% of employees are people. If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.” – Simon Sinek
People often think about businesses as faceless entities; perhaps skyscrapers with logos or big technology infrastructures that manifest as endless rows of computers in offices. In reality, neither of these descriptions are incorrect, but they forget the very simple fact that all businesses are made of humans. And without humans, there is no business – no leadership teams, no employees, no customers.
People want to connect with people, not businesses.
It’s been true for as long as humans have existed and it will continue to be true for generations to come, especially with the rise of digital communications. If Covid has taught us anything it’s that we crave human connection. And Zoom will not do. As humans, we are hard wired for connection. For tribes. It’s what sustains us through our lives and it what perpetuates our species.
How do you create human connection in business?
At a fundamental and scientific level, the chemical that bonds people is oxytocin. The love hormone, responsible for creating empathy and trust. It’s what marketeers and brand strategists look to provoke when they use storytelling to connect with potential customers.
Why? Because stories make our brains produce oxytocin in spades.
Think about your favourite story and favourite character within it – whether it’s John Wick or Teresa Mendoza. Regardless of their questionable past or very human flaws, you feel a great deal of empathy towards them because of the oxytocin coursing through your brain. And empathy translates to commercial success, in both Hollywood and business. It’s no coincidence that the companies that ranked in the top half of the Global Empathy Index outperformed those in the bottom half.
Defining the character of your business
At the centre of every story is a well-rounded main character. Someone whose hopes and dreams we understand, whose goal we believe in and whose quest we strive for. These characters will make or break big stories, in the same way your brand’s character can make or break your business.
The character of your business is about the central personality at the heart of what you do. Inspired by your purpose and evident throughout your culture, its outputs are often well-documented as core values and tone of voice guidelines. But how do you define it to begin with? How do you create something that connects with people?
Start by asking yourself these five questions
- What is the purpose of your existence?
- What is important to you in the way you do business?
- How do you want to talk about yourself?
- When people interact with your business how do you want them to feel?
- What adjectives would you use to describe your business?
Once you’ve written a few adjectives down, apply the Write the Talk filter and remove any of these words:
And then lastly, ask yourself this: If my businesses’s character was pitched to a Hollywood executive as the central character in the next big movie, would they say give me budget to develop the movie?
If not, start again. Dig deeper. Look for something authentic to connect.