Build customer loyalty and affinity.
Clean, simple, and elegant designs bring the association of a luxury experience and people tend to like them. A 2012 Google study found that visually complex websites were consistently rated as less attractive than their simpler counterparts. That’s not to say that clean websites always work best, however, and you should still test a few designs. Ultimately, it’s about what works, not what’s prettiest.
Perform user research to calibrate your messaging with what your audience relates to and will respond to.
Humans like to identify as being part of a group, and it’s important to call these associations into play to appeal to the more emotional, fast-brain side of decision-making. Perform advanced user research using A/B testing or surveys to find out who your audience is and build a customer persona. For example, Unbounce features a photo and testimonial from an actual customer, someone who likely fits their customer persona.
For example, Codecademy sends an email to congratulate users when they reach certain milestones or code more than 1 day in a row, and Duolingo employs similar tactics to pursue Daily Active Users. How you do this depends on your specific business, but social media and email are both great tools for brands to give out genuine compliments and pursue likability holistically. Avoid overly effervescent and patronizing compliments, especially if this copywriting style isn’t a match for your audience. Getting touted for accomplishing basic actions can induce an eye roll instead of a feeling of accomplishment if done clumsily.
Just like people like to identify as being part of a group, they’re also more inclined to like and support businesses that stand for the same things they do. For example, Toms’ business is predicated on a one-to-one model where, when you buy a pair of shoes, they give a pair to a kid in need.
People are sometimes conditioned to liking a product because of its association with something else. For example, Apple poured millions of dollars into trying to be associated with rebellious, creative, and luxurious - three things their target audience likes to associate themselves with. Think about all the brands that feature testimonials from famous people on their homepage. Consider how you may perceive a brand differently if it’s founded by a celebrity you like. The rising trend of influencer marketing is another great example of how brands are building their associations, just like New Belgium Brewing partnered up with Doug the Pug to promote their seasonal Pumpkick ale.
Just like being funny makes people more likable, at least on an interpersonal level, being funny is a good way to make boring brands or products likable. For example, Chubbies encourage customers to submit photos on social media and then repost them with funny captions.
Be aware that humor may not be right for your brand. For example, home security, enterprise subscription management software, or a management consulting firm probably wouldn’t benefit from humor, and in fact, using humor would likely turn off potential customers.
People like honesty and transparency, and it makes them feel like they’re part of the movement. Moreover, transparency is a key component of what makes people like and respect a brand. Transparency in copywriting also tends to work better and builds more trust than vague, clever copy or hype-y language. Admitting your weaknesses is also a powerful strategy in rhetoric. The Avis We Try Harder campaign is an excellent example of how effective this strategy can be.
How you do this depends on your specifics and is where the importance of usability testing, customer research, and segmentation comes into play – as well as good customer service. For example, here’s a part of a response from Bonobos when a customer sent their customer support an email about their jeans fraying. Note the explanation of their lack of inventory for that design, and the listing of possible future steps so that the customer isn’t worried or unpleasantly surprised.