ResponsiveTrustworthyDependableSocial. Examples of words that are overused, misused, or never used to describe a brand (note: you’re in a tough spot if you can’t use any of those listed). But there’s one word that’s quickly making its way back to that list, and for that matter, to the top of the list. Human.

Yes, it’s terribly ironic that most of us turn to non-human interaction with a smartphone or tablet when lacking human company…admit it, you do. Yet, we continue to expect some element of humanity in the very products or services we’re likely searching for on those very same non-human devices. Fortunately for us humans (are you still following?), there are many companies/brands that have found ways to humanize their brands, even if we rarely rely on it.

Try this experiment, which I stole from an Advertising Age article that was published in 2012. Conduct a web search using the following formula (be sure to use the quotes): “I love [insert a brand]”. See how many results are generated. When I followed some of the examples from the article here’s what I got: Apple generated 8.91 million results; Starbucks generated 2.51 million; and Honda generated 3.11 million.

Now try brands such as ExxonDow Chemical and CitiBank. The results are paltry compared to the first group (despite, ironically, Dow launching a campaign a few years ago focused on “the human element”). Even Geico, an insurance company with which customers are constantly at odds, generated more than a half million results – arguably, at least in part,  a result of their successful humanization of their spokesgecko. Exxon, Dow and CitiBank combined for less than 300,000. I then tried my own search using “I love my local bookstore”. Nearly 650,000 results. Starting to see the pattern yet?

We don’t expect our favorite brands to constantly be in our face, always looking to initiate interaction. We simply expect them to have a human element, and much like our friends in real life, we expect them to thoughtfully respond with useful information when we need it. And those that do it best, will have a lot of loving and devoted friends in the world…just ask Apple, Starbucks or Honda.