Everywhere you look, it seems that there is something ‘authentic’ or someone saying that they are authentic. Brands, particularly in less developed markets, interpret authenticity in a rather simplistic way and, therefore, use it in a way that assumes the audience is also simplistic. Ironically, the push to appear authentic reveals the very lack of authenticity those brands and corporate purport to believe. The right words may be strung together but the messenger, the platform or subsequent brand activities ring hollow. So let’s not pretend here.
It’s a buzzword and people want to be on board.
Presenting an authentic brand starts at the core of what the brand is and how it interacts with its employees and customers. True authenticity is a holistic practice that extends to how the company operates. People want to trust the brands they believe in. It allows them to connect and identify with the brand’s story. An increase in affinity leads to an increase in the perception of value and a decrease in price sensitivity. In times of crisis and ambiguity, the brand can be more human and dynamic in its communication without presenting as fake.
When a brand's rhetoric gets out of sync with customers' actual experiences, the brand's integrity and future persuasiveness suffers.
If your messaging is the only place you communicate authenticity, it’s a wasted opportunity with your consumer and employees. Poor service and behavior will inevitably plant seeds of doubt and reduce brand loyalty. To gain credibility, brands need to walk the talk. With all of the access to real-time information on social media and the ease of sharing information, a brand’s one-dimensional approach to authenticity insults the intelligence of its audience.
It’s important to remember who has the real power in the consumer-brand dynamic. Consumers on social media can help a brand to grow or, conversely, deliver its swift demise. Some may argue that this is only a certain demographic. To that small group of people still hunched over their typewriters and having their ‘secretaries’ print their emails so that they can read them, here’s the rub :
1. Demographic shifts will continue to happen on social media, resulting in an expanding audience.
2. That demographic shift comes along with consumer behavioral shifts. Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z are a lot less forgiving with brands they don’t like or consider fake.
3. The barrier to entry for many industries is becoming lower and lower with improvements in technology. Your brand will not be the only game in the virtual town.
The message is simple: if you’re not going to commit to authenticity in a more holistic and meaningful way for the brand, don’t do it at all. Keep it real or just be fake and own it.
I'm a strategic marketing communication consultant who works with premium brands to tell compelling brand stories, guide perception, drive engagement and build loyalty to win hearts and wallets. Find out more about me at www.royanndean.com, follow me on Twitter @royanndean and Linkedin.