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Humanizing Your Brand Webinar Series

If you want to grow your business and connect with your audience, the first step is to build trust with consumers by humanizing your brand. Regardless of your industry, making your brand accessible and personable is in your best interest.

Our six-week 2021 webinar series featured presentations from leading industry experts. The topics included telling your story, building the right ads, utilizing TikTok, and fighting marketing burnout.

Watch the recordings, or review each week’s slide deck below. A 20-minute Q&A session will also follow all presentations.

Week 1: Content

Content Is King:
Humanizing Your Videos

Craig Lucie

Craig Lucie

Founder
Lucie

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The Evolution of Relatability on Social Media

Taylor Kincaid

Taylor Kincaid

Social Media Director
Online Optimism

LinkedIn

In Online Optimism’s first webinar series, we hit the ground running by discussing how engaging content can humanize your brand. To begin, eek one featured Criag Lucie, CEO and founder of Atlanta-based public relations firm Lucie, and Online Optimism’s former Social Media Director Taylor Kincaid. 

First, Craig dove into his background as an emmy-award winning journalist, former news anchor, and most importantly, a skilled storyteller. With a constant focus on humanizing his client’s brands and the individuals within them, Craig explained the importance of storytelling with engaging content that resonates with an audience and disseminating that content strategically.

With over 8 years of marketing experience, Taylor skillfully aligns brands’ voices and core values to tell engaging stories over social media. After Craig, Taylor explained how humanizing a brand’s social media isn’t just reserved for major corporations, but can be adopted by smaller businesses using techniques from social listening to breaking the rules of etiquette on different platforms. 

Listeners who stayed tuned for the second half of this week’s webinar heard Craig and Taylor answer questions from the audience. Themes of authenticity, strategy, and how to humanize brands that aren’t inherently approachable were discussed in the Q&A. 

Next week, the webinar will discuss  how data and analytics can actually help us better understand the people we’re marketing to. 

Week 2: Data & Analytics

Observing Our Humanity:
Using Qualitative Insights to Understand What Makes Brands Feel More Human

Candice R. Hollenbeck, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer
Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

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Understanding Users:
Using Software to see the Humans on Your Site

Irene Muchai

Business Development Director
Online Optimism

LinkedIn

Upon hearing ‘data and analytics’, the term ‘humanity’ isn’t likely to come to mind. In this Humanizing Your Brand webinar, however, we will explore how the two actually work in tandem. This week our host, Sam Olmsted, was joined by Candice R. Hollenbeck, Ph.D. and senior lecturer at the University of Georgia, and Online Optimism’s own Director of Business Development, Irene Wambui Muchai

Having earned her Ph.D in consumer learning and education, Dr. Hollenbeck teaches and researches consumer behavior, brand meaning, consumer identity, and social media consumption. This week she walked viewers through the more qualitative research methods used to humanize brands, including searching for the human characteristics in data, cultivating a sense of belonging within brand communities, positioning your brand as a place of engagement, and turning the spotlight and attention to consumers. 

Following Dr. Hollenbeck is Irene. With a background providing sales insights to an ecommerce company, Irene now discovers new leads, produces customized proposals for client pitches, and plans the most successful campaign strategies to achieve a client’s end goals. Irene then delved into more quantitative marketing research methods, the various disconnects brands face while trying to reach their goals, and how data can inform brands of ways to become more human-minded. Whether it’s learning to observe your users’ behaviors through Google Analytics or implementing conversion-boosting strategies to your website, data and analytics can be gathered, examined, and serve as guides to improve how your brand interacts with users. 

Check out next week’s episode to learn more about Public Relations and the power of events.

Week 3: PR & Events

The Human Side of PR & Event Activitation

Jaleesa McDowell

Jaleesa McDowell

CEO
McDowell’s Branding Group

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If You Build the Right Ad, They Will Come

Morgan Bachemin

Morgan Bachemin

Digital Ads Director
Online Optimism

LinkedIn

As we reached the halfway mark in Online Optimism’s ‘Humanizing Your Brand’ webinar series, we turned our attention away from data and content-focused topics and towards two slightly more glamorous subjects: Public Relations and events! This episode Sam Olmsted, formerly Online Optimism’s Director of Search and Content and now Managing Director the the New Orleans Office,  was joined by Jaleesa McDowell, CEO of McDowell’s Branding Group, and Morgan Bachemin, Online Optimism‘s former Digital Ads Director. With Sam serving as a moderator, Jaleesa and Morgan built on their expertise to provide insider tips on how to use PR and events to saturate the market with your brand’s personal story. 

Jaleesa first got her start in PR and Events in 2009, and has since worked with major celebrities, sponsors, and a range of events in the entertainment industry. Having founded her own branding agency, Jaleesa discussed the importance of PR and event activation in humanizing your brand, such as emphasizing elements of a personal story in your brand’s narrative, event activation strategies that lead back to your brand’s story, and following up with your attendees to ensure your brand has a lasting presence and a personal touch.

Morgan followed Jaleesa to share her expertise in strategic digital ad placement. Having created and implemented online advertising strategies for clients at Online Optimism, Morgan noted  the importance of display advertisements in building awareness prior to an event, different ad strategies for different networks to increase RSVPs, and best practices to ensure an event’s attendees and staff feel valued and are likely to return. 

Viewers who watched till the Q&A portion of week three’s episode learned more about Jaleesa and Morgan’s strategies to stay up to date on entertainment news, avoid ad-overload, and much more!

Week 4: Branding

Make Them Buy

LaVon Lewis

LaVon Lewis

Creative & Relationships/Co-Founder
Connect Branding & Marketing

Sherrod Shackelford

Sherrod Shackelford

Client Revenue Creation & Brand Strategy/CEO
Connect Branding & Marketing

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But, Does It Spark Joy? Crafting A Brand Through Emotional Design

Juan Pablo Madrid

Juan Pablo Madrid

Design Director
Online Optimism

LinkedIn

Although we’ve mentioned brands throughout this webinar series, this week we took a deep dive into what makes your brand human. Enjoy our fourth installment of Online Optimism’s ‘Humanizing Your Brand’ webinar series to learn just what it takes to give your brand that personal touch that will build awareness and trust with your audience. This week we presented our two guest speakers: LaVon Lewis and Sherrod Shackelford of Connect, an Atlanta-based marketing and branding agency along with Juan Pablo Madrid, Online Optimism’s Design Director. 

To begin, we hear from LaVonm , who serves as Co-Founder, President, and Creative Director of Connect, and Sherrod, Co-Founder, CEO, and Strategic Architect of Connect Branding & Marketing. With over 50 awards under their belts, LaVon and Sherrod are experts in the intersection of design, technology, and branding. After introductions, they discussed their approach to branding businesses, which relies on acknowledging two facets of all businesses harp on: What they sell and the feeling it gives consumers. 

After that, Juan Pablo, who spearheads all design, animation, and website projects at Online Optimism, took over the second half of the episode. JP joined us this week to discuss how a more humanized brand can be achieved through emotional design. Most modern creativity is dictated by a standard of conformity, a cycle which JP explained can be broken through means of emotional design. Whether it’s a small condolence acknowledging user emotions or design functions that mimic human behavior, emotional design plays a large, yet often subconscious, role in how we relate to brands. 

Watch until  the Q&A portion of this week’s episode to find out LaVon, Sherrod, and JP’s opinions on topics from favorite brands to more accessible design.

Please watch the video to see LaVon, and Sherrod’s, presentation.

Week 5: Creative

Humanize Your Brand with Strategic Storytelling

Rafael Maldonado Jr.

Chief Creative Officer
IPCOMM Agency

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Let’s TikTalk: Using TikTok For Your Brand Humanization

Meara McNitt

Meara McNitt

Senior Social Media Strategist
Online Optimism

LinkedIn
TikTok

This week we got creative! On our fifth episode Sam Olmsted was joined by Rafeal Maldonado Jr. who serves as Chief Creative Officer at IPCOMM Agency, a Decatur-based branding company, as well as Online Optimism’s Director of Social Media, Meara McNitt. This week Rafael walked viewers through different storytelling strategies companies use to connect their stories to intended audiences, while Meara followed Rafael to discuss the role TikTok can play in a brand connecting to its audiences. Both Rafael and Meara discussed the importance of creative storytelling to relate to audiences and strengthen a brand’s personal narrative.

When thinking of storytelling, images of books and mythic tales may come to mind, but Rafael explained storytelling in terms of a strategic tool to foster communication and build trust. Delving into why humans relate to stories on an instinctual level and their need to be understood by the brands that serve them, Rafael revealed the key moments when brands can insert themselves into their own stories to best serve as their clients’ guide. 

On another note, Meara squashed the many misconceptions surrounding TikTok. Often known for Gen Z dancing trends and a lack of ads, Meara shined a light on its true function: a platform for storytellers. As a social media channel that is very person-heavy, major brands and small businesses alike have the opportunity to engage with other users on a personal and human level. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear two of the industry’s most innovative minds answer questions from the audience, from showing off your staff and services authentically to how traditional storylines can be translated into TikToks.

Please watch the video to see Rafael’s presentation.

Week 6: People

Finding an Agency that Humanizes Brands

Joe Koufman

CEO
Setup

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How Humanizing Your Brand Can Fight Marketing Burnout & Increase Retention

Flynn Zaiger

Flynn Zaiger

CEO
Online Optimism

LinkedIn

Over the course of this six-week webinar series, viewers have had the opportunity to learn what it takes to humanize your brand, from data and analytics to creative storytelling. On our 6th and final episode of Online Optimism’s ‘Humanizing Your Brand’, we introduced our guest speaker Joe Koufman. As the CEO of Atlanta-based company Setup, Joe acts as a marketing “matchmaker” to connect brands to their perfect marketing agency. In addition, Online Optimism’s founder and CEO Flynn Zaiger joined Joe for this episode.

In this final week the two discussed humanizing your brand in terms of the people within them. Joe took viewers along the journey to find the right agency to humanize your brand, from the planning stage to the onboarding process. From an agency-search point of view, Joe explored the ways in which agencies and brands can form more human partnerships, which involves high levels of transparency and communication. 

Coming from a slightly different perspective, Flynn discussed the importance of humanizing your brand from an in-house point of view. With employee burnout and turnover rates on the rise, Flynn guided viewers through marketing burnout’s detrimental effects on both an individual and the agency, and how humanizing your brand can prevent burnout and increase retention. Whether it’s employee recognition or featuring staff in your brand’s content, humanizing your brand can have positive effects on your employees health and the health of your agency. 

On our final Q&A session, Flynn and Joe discussed signs of employee burnout, core business components to keep in-house, and how to keep communication flowing. 

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