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· 5 min read
Tim Post

The sun has just about set on another Saturday evening and I've spent a lot of time thinking about personalities. Some thinking has been about my own and who I need to be for Echoreply to be successful, as well as who Echoreply needs to be as it starts taking off from the soul shard or two that I put in it.

We as marketers are charged with personifying organizations in an effort to make them more relateable, and if you follow frozen beef sheets on Twitter, you're looking at a new professional art form. We as marketers do this extremely well and that .. worries me sometimes in the world of software that we live in.

I've arrived at corporate personification being harmful and I need no other evidence beyond how much effort we believe is required for human beings to relate to other human beings on behalf of a brand. Why do we insist that organizations, comprised mostly of human beings, are less human and fallable than the sum of the humans they consist of? Why don't we just be ourselves and humans the 99.5% of the time that just being ourselves would be perfectly sufficient? I've come to call this "The Cult Of Tech Company Personalities" after also observing that most PR disasters I've ever directly been involved with or caused could have been averted had I just let people be themselves. This cult-like behavior really can grab ahold of you.

This phenomenon constantly tasks me because we try our best to help our clients NOT be like this; why we "Vulcanize" all of a sudden when speaking on behalf of our brand is something that keeps me up late at night and in the shower until the water runs tepid.

My approach, thus far, has been to integrate myself as much as possible in our client's product workflow and essentially bring out the character traits that the organization already has, in the form of writing guidelines and media standards that are needed for everyone to happily human together consistently when pointed outwardly.

There's always a point where people begin to wonder if the voice is too genuine; despite strict observance of all expected formailities, norms and other things, and zero evidence that changing anything would be a good idea. But, despite admitting it's irrational, our own comfort often makes us sound less like people when we communicate while working in general, magnified by 10 if we're outward-facing.

As humans we know "too nice" when we see it, often because our reaction to it is sufficiently viscereal that we can't really anticipate it. Echoreply is one of the few companies nuts enough to put serious engineering muscle into brand voice KPIs, so it leaves us with a bit of our own personality helix to decode. And that, folks, is fun stuff to work on.

We currently do a pretty good job of tracking the impact of even miniscule changes to any part of our funnels, even completely unintentional ones that we weren't specifically monitoring for -- this is thanks to really great observability and testing platforms that integrate effortlessly. However, social sentiment as well as plotting likely emotional influences in and between data sets is almost always left up to anecdotal observations distilled down by senior leaders - in other words, it goes 'out back' to die.

We need to help bridge the "I can see this anecdotally" -> "I can Show You Where This Has Been Hiding" gap. Put another way, you notice when those you trust have even tiny changes to their personalities, which can sometimes make friendships with people who are still finding their authentic selves rather diffifcult at times. Unfortunately, we far too often overcorrect for this presumption when we think about it in the sense of our business and all too often deliver ourselves like pretentious, bland and strikingly overpriced theme park food.

Echoreply's process (currently in development) flips this on its head, asserts that humans are perfectly capable of relating to one another with their own personliaties, and implements only a minimal amount of structure on communications. That's usually a very bad idea, unless you can monitor it in real time and chart corrections organization-wide in how you relate to people.

That's what gets me out of bed every day. I'm sick and tired of all the product super hero stories revolving around someone in CS or DevRel or somewhere else having to break ranks and just be human instead. Why don't we just, y'know, do that by default? I can't wait to bring that to reality with all the guard rails it needs to work.

And thanks for helping me think out loud as the sun warms the front face of our house. This and more highly-specialized KPIs will soon be available to design partners in their client area, and also available via version-0 of our REST API which is coming out a month from tomorrow.


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