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The essence of human-centered branding

Mayya geo

Put people at the forefront of your process with customer personas

We exist in business because of people. Regardless of our product or service, all is ultimately designed for people. The depth of our understanding of people directly correlates with the quality of product we deliver.

Traditionally, customer personas were often an afterthought in the creative process, a document passed along from the strategic department. However, these static profiles lacked the ability to truly empathize with customers, envision their experiences, or engage them in the process.

Without a clear understanding of our audience, effective communication becomes challenging. Therefore, it’s important that we prioritize people’s needs, desires, and obstacles in our process of branding and marketing. Human-centered branding revolves around comprehending the customers’ mindset and crafting solutions that resonate with them, enabling our product or service to truly impact their lives.

At GEOBO, our ICONIC method draws inspiration from human-centered design principles in product development. This empathetic, innovative, and efficient approach places customer needs at the forefront of all decisions. The method’s initial stage—“INSPIRE”—involves gathering details and observations not only about the market but also about our customers.

This article is dedicated to guiding the creation of a robust customer persona—a tool we can integrate into our process to ensure the customer remains a central component of it. Let’s build a brand that has meaningful connections with our audience.

Human centered branding_HCB what is

Human-centered branding

The original human-centered design process is a problem-solving methodology used across product development, artistry, and business contexts. Tracing its roots back to the 1970s, it has its foundations linked to Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize laureate from Sandford University. Over time, this approach has demonstrated its efficiency and remains widely utilized today by pioneering companies like IDEO.

IDEO has taken this process into what is now known as Design Thinking, a framework that not only fosters innovation but also ensures alignment with business objectives while empathizing with end-users. At its core, human-centered design aims to democratize the design process by actively involving users and stakeholders.

But what exactly is human-centered branding? It’s a strategic approach to crafting brand image, with consumer and stakeholder perspectives at its core. It entails harmonizing business objectives with consumer desires and translating this synergy into innovative solutions toward gaining a competitive edge in the market.

In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer,

“People don’t like to be sold to; they like to buy.”

This underscores the essence of human-centered branding—creating an environment where consumers feel empowered to make choices rather than being sold to.

Today prioritizing people is paramount in brand development. Consumers now more than ever resist overly aggressive marketing approaches or irrelevant communications. With the increased number of advertisements bombarding us online, in person, and through interactive channels, it’s important to adopt communication strategies that resonate on a human level.

Human-centered design is rooted in creating products and services that hold value and spark conversation. Similarly, human-centered branding revolves around positioning these offerings within narratives that resonate deeply, catalyzing cultural shifts among the right audience. Ultimately it’s about facilitating meaningful connections between people and products, ensuring that each purchase aligns perfectly with the consumer’s unique needs and preferences.

Human centered branding_HCB customer persona

Crafting customer personas

In the process of branding companies, various individuals play crucial roles, including the creative team, stakeholders, and the customers. While we may engage with each group, it’s often the consumers who are the least represented in the branding process. To address this gap, customer personas serve as invaluable tools, fostering empathy with users, even when they’re not physically present. These documents offer a holistic view of customer details, enabling us to gain deeper insights into the challenges and aspirations of potential buyers. They not only provide a comprehensive overview but also serve as a documentation, allowing us to better understand the needs and motivations of our target audience.

Researching customers

Effective customer-persona creation begins with thorough research. Here are some methods to approach this:

  1. Market research—This helps us understand the demographics, trends, and preferences of our target audience.
  2. Analyzing existing data—By analyzing available research, either online or through the purchase of data, we can complement our primary research efforts.
  3. Customer interviews—Meeting with potential or current buyers provides valuable firsthand data on preferences, needs, and challenges.
  4. Remote interviews—Sending out questionnaires, surveys, and quizzes allow us to gather data from a broader customer base, helping us analyze trends within groups.
  5. Empathy mapping—This technique enables us to understand our customers’ experiences and emotions, enhancing our ability to empathize with them.


Human centered branding_HCB assets

Designing a customer persona

Designing a customer persona involves identifying market gaps and potential customer types. For example, Liquid Death (a water brand) successfully targeted environmentally conscious millennials with their aluminum-canned water product, demonstrating the power of designing customer avatars to influence consumer behavior and culture. The process involves:

  1. Identifying customer personas—Understanding the target audience’s characteristics, challenges, preferences, and needs.
  2. Creating distinct personas—Developing detailed personas based on real data to represent specific segments of the target audience.
  3. Connecting existing personas with new preferences—Ensuring that the final customer persona aligns with the envisioned preferences and behaviors associated with the product or service.

Creating a customer persona

While there are no strict rules for designing a customer persona, it’s essential to include key details to facilitate team understanding and collaboration. These details should be organized into a document and may include:

  • Images that accurately represent the target audience.
  • Demographic information such as age, location, gender, and ethnic background.
  • Professional occupation and income level.
  • Lifestyle behaviors, including family status, leisure activities, and current product usage.
  • Quotes from customer interviews that highlight key objectives or challenges.
  • Pain points and desired outcomes.


Validating findings

If this process is done well, at this stage you should have a well-designed customer-persona document, and you should have a great deal of understanding of who your customers are. Once you have developed customer personas, it’s crucial to validate them with stakeholders, especially marketing, customer support, and sales teams, who often possess valuable insights into customer profiles. Customer personas are dynamic documents that should be regularly updated to reflect changes in customer profiles and preferences.

Human centered branding_HCB integration

Integrate customer personas into your branding efforts today

Now that you have your customer-persona documents, it’s time to put them into work! The integration of customer personas into your branding efforts serves as a cornerstone for human-centered branding. Print out and make your documents accessible to the entire team. I encourage you to consistently apply the various strategies outlined in this article to ensure you are designing customer-centered brand experiences.

Thank you for reading! 💜