Updated: Aug 23, 2019
Marketing, by the true definition, isn’t authentic. The old “Fake it until you make it?” adage no longer applies!
Brands bend over backwards to position themselves in the best possible light, often purposefully omitting details that may be perceived as bad for their image. BUT, with the current access to information across the web, change is afoot. We’re are now solidly entrenched in an era of consumer empowerment, where the true products and services are just a Google search or tweet away.
For many brands, including products, services, celebrities, politicians and anyone else in the media spotlight; scandals, PR mishaps and social media faux pars, are nearly impossible to remain hidden from your consumer’s news feed. You no longer have an option other than to present your brand honestly and transparently.
From it's very inception, Patagonia built its mission statement around honesty. The company pledges to create the best possible products on the market, without causing any unnecessary harm to the environment. It’s not enough to just say you’ll do something. Authentic brands back up their claims with transparency, and that’s exactly what Patagonia has done!
"Authenticity is crucial to continued loyalty from fickle audiences."
The challenge for marketers is to navigate the latest and greatest means of connecting with customers where they are, ensuring the messages they publish are both genuine and in alignment with brand principles. Your brand is who you are, the core value of your business and a promise to your customers of the value they should expect.
Ironically, marketing, by nature, isn’t really authentic. It’s a war, an all out armed conflict between marketing militias as brands compete to showcase their products and services in the most enticing, attractive and clever means possible, while often degrading their competitors and sneakily sweeping any negative commentary under the rug.
Those that are brave enough to embrace authenticity and transparency have the privilege of consumers doing the marketing for them. Those that continue to fight authenticity struggle to regain or even maintain their footing with an audience who watches their every move, ready to pounce at the first signs of negativity.
We have seen first hand how inauthentic behaviours can negatively influence customer perception and how brands that remain customer focused come out on top.
Here are a few ways to infuse authenticity into your marketing and branding efforts:
1. Honesty Always!
People are hunger for the security of knowing there is a genuine regard and trust among them and the foundations they partner with.
For such a long time, brands have placed attributes like "smart," "entertaining" and "clever" far above characteristics like "genuine," "reliable" and even "honest." These characteristics aren't totally unrelated, obviously, however brands must display the last three or buyers won't even think about the previous. This implies tuning in to their needs and reacting appropriately. A brand that is "above" honesty will be shunned, with customers cringing in light of the lie.
In the present online life driven world, news spreads quickly. The wrong message gains traction without the option to close it down on your terms. Try to be forthcoming in letting clients know that you're chipping away at improving an inferior product or service. When customers feel like they were informed honestly, they will be more forgiving of any hiccups or inconveniences they experience along the way.
2. Show that you understand and care.
On the off chance that your advertising procedure goes by the "splash and dash" approach, prospects will sniff out the nonexclusive feelings and reject you. With so much information accessible to advertisers, there's no reason not to be more personalised.
Having said that, personalisation is fast becoming an abused term in marketing, with automated messaging and processes. However its potential effect is enormous. Be alert when utilising automation for your business and clients, you may risk exchanging credibility for a somewhat unpleasant robotic persona.
Consider the different stages buyers experience when looking into and purchasing your products and services. Match their brand experiences to any client information you have available to you. When you demonstrate to them that you care about what they need, it supports loyalty, and offers a credible human component to the brand.
3. Stay true to brand.
At the point when brands need to rehash their image to better connect with their audience, a "reinvention" is typically the path taken to rekindle sales and awareness. But too often, the process lead to brand experiences that end up a long way from the core values and principles, distancing and alienating clients even more.
There are many ways to boost support for your brand and connect with consumers emotionally without sacrificing core values. Present with the same image and voice online and offline, operating a certain way offline while having a completely different online persona comes across as having a "multiple personalities,"sending audiences straight to the complaint boards or your competitor. Don’t portray yourself as a luxe brand if your product is actually a value product or service. Stay on track, be the best in your specific area, understand your customer and their expectations.
4. Clarity and calm.
An unavoidable and unpredictable communications crisis is inevitable at some point, Most brands will face at least one, and the worst mistake is to have a knee-jerk reaction.
Consider January 2018, when H&M used black child to model a hoodie printed with "coolest monkey in the jungle"." The picture generated widespread outrage on social media. The company apologised quickly and later stopped selling the item. It takes effort to dissect every message and image to ensure you don't inadvertently offend your audience race, culture, gender, generation and view point.
In the long run, taking the time to build an authentic foundation and a community of brand ambassadors helps to establish and maintain your brand authenticity, even through turmoil.