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Using Human Faces in Your Digital Marketing Strategy: Is it the Right Move?

Marketing your product or service is all about connection. It is about connecting your business’s product or service with the needs of your current and potential customers. It is about connecting your customer’s practical and emotional components in a way that leads them to you. It is about convincing them that in some small way their lives can be improved by what you offer. Often, that’s a tall order. Depending on who you are looking to attract, your strategic tools may need to change. One very important tool that is commonly used in digital marketing is the human face.

The Positive Side of Marketing With a Human Face


Presenting an Identifiable Brand That People Can Connect With

There are many things that a human face can bring to a business’s marketing strategy. One of these things is a sense of identity,  especially if that face is a character, a face suggests humanity but is better with a story behind it.

Faces have been shown to be more recognizable than names or even company logos. The most effective faces, such as those associated with fast food companies, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and KFC set a memorable tone for their customers.

When choosing a face, however, not any face will do. It is important to consider the impression given off by a specific face. For example, when recent events placed more attention on racial inequality, many companies began to reconsider how the faces of black characters were representing their brand. The Quaker Oats Company announced that it would retire the Aunt Jemima brand, and admitted it was rooted in a racial stereotype.

When A Face Might Let You Down

While faces can be effective in marketing, how they are used is important. For businesses embarking on their digital marketing strategy, stock images are often used which can pose a problem at times. There are some images that are widely circulated, so the same nice lady that goes to your dentist in Phoenix might also visit your aunt’s chiropractor in Philadelphia. Images that are too popular can make your business seem more fabricated, and less trustworthy.

Another thing to consider is the attractiveness of the subject. For example, using an adorable baby to draw a customer or prospect into your ad might get your ad the initial attention, but will it lead them to listen to what you have to say? On average digital content shown on mobile devices is given less than two seconds of attention. An attractive baby often will take up the majority of the attention, unless a clear connection with the product can be established quickly, like the Gerber baby.

Humans are Judgemental

Regardless of how hard some may try to embrace inclusiveness, people have always judged one another for a wide variety of reasons, and will likely continue to do so. It is important to think of who your target audience is, and how they might interpret the faces in your digital marketing campaign. Whatever your strategy, it is important to connect and resonate as much as possible, rather than alienate. Choosing the right face that says what you as a company wants to say, and that still says what your customers want to hear can be a tough call, and some businesses opt for less controversial options, such as landscapes, product photos, or more neutral illustrations.

If you do choose to use a face, remember that the words behind it matter too. Make sure that there is a personality behind that face that customers can get behind and support. Even (and especially) when the face you choose to use is your own.



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