black girl smiling into her shoulder

Photo by Leighann Renee from Unsplash

You’ll read the buzzwords from any guru or brand strategist (including me):

Be “authentic” with your audience.

Show them that you’re “human.”

What does that mean?

Being “human” with your brand isn’t something you have to try to do, it’s part of you. I mention it time and time again that you need a mission and vision statement. I can’t state this enough: this is the backbone and foundation of your brand.

Let’s take Universal Standard: an online clothing company that sells essential pieces for people of all sizes.

Seems pretty basic (no pun intended) right? Why would I pick them over any other company that offers basic tees, jeans, and boots this fall?

As a consumer, I’m conscious about where I spend my money when I can. I try to shop local first and shop chain stores that give back to the community and aren’t afraid to stand up for human rights. I’m also about inclusivity when it comes to fashion. Do you have people of different genders, races, ethnicities? How are you showcasing people with disabilities in your line?

Back to Universal Standard, let’s dive into their mission: Create the world’s most inclusive brand (and) Empower the industry to do the same.

Fashion and beauty brands today, we see a lot of brands adding “inclusive” in their brand messaging. However, a lot of companies have received criticism because:

A) Plus-size pieces are generally only available online and not in-store

B) They only show “acceptable/curvy” plus-size models (flat stomach, hips, and a noticeable bum). The truth is, there’s no one way to plus-size, much like there’s no one way to be the straight size. We’ll save that for another time, though.

Universal Standard takes its mission statement and brings it out in their campaign. We see people of all different ages, sizes, races, ethnicities, and abilities/disabilities.

By doing this, they are connecting with their audience by saying, “Hey, I see you. We have products for you.”

Knowing that fashion is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, way one expresses themselves, and the industry has distorted the idea of beauty in the past, they not only want to be different but help others make a difference.

Universal Standard thinks outside of their business and realizes it’s people who help make the brand succeed. By paying attention to the problem and offering a solution, they make their brand human.

So what if you’re not a fashion or beauty company? How can you make your brand human so your audience connects with you?

Listen and pay attention to what the criticisms are in your industry

You may or may not be part of the problem. Sometimes we get so deep into making our brand grow, we latch on to what’s popular even if it’s not most liked. So what is your audience saying? Ask questions, take notes, and provide the solutions in a practical manner.

Always come from a place of authenticity.

No lie, I hate “authenticity” because I feel it’s used so much, but it fits here. Your audience knows if you’re just throwing ideas and words hoping it sticks. If you are copying verbiage from a script of someone else? It shows. The responses are less and people will pull away from your brand. Going back to your mission, vision, and brand statements and establishing your brand voice and tone will help you stay on track.

Engage with your audience.

I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, but engaging with your audience will help you stay connected with your audience. Instagram Stories, newsletters, Facebook groups…your audience is everywhere. Always engage with them–whether it’s niche-specific or asking what they’re doing for the weekend. They are following you for a reason–don’t ‘have them regret it!


Your audience is more inclined to buy from you when they know you care about them. Being human with your brand means engaging with your audience in a way that they want to keep connecting with you and feel like you care about more than just their pocketbooks.

Who are some of your favorite brands that you connect with? Tell me in the comments!

Love and elephants,