What does it mean to “be human”?

I didn’t wake up this morning and decide to tackle the meaning of life. Actually, though, this video about people who want to go to Mars (a one-way trip) is an unexpectedly fascinating look at that issue.

I’m talking about brands, and how to be a voice for your brand online.

The other day I upgraded my laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. The software download took a little while (expected). The installation process took over an hour (not expected). So what do you do when suddenly your workflow is interrupted by a machine? Me: take to Twitter to express crankiness.

What happened next put everything into perspective:

Yes, I started laughing out loud.

Conventional wisdom says people don’t like to talk to logos. (And they don’t. I mean, do you want to talk to Pop-Tarts or a Keebler elf?) What Windows did, however, was make me look past the logo to the voice behind the brand.

Sure, Microsoft has deep pockets. It’s also an innovative company that’s been lagging on the innovation meter of late. And Windows may be a very functional operating system, but it’s hardly a sexy product. So if Microsoft and Windows can figure out a way to engage with humor and help (the subsequent tweet had tips for getting started with Windows 8.1), then I’m pretty sure your brand can find its voice too.

No, this isn’t easy stuff–but it is possible. And we all have to start somewhere.

Photo by ghcheng85 (Flickr).