Whether we’re snapping photos of latte art or posting too many photos of our dogs, today’s digital landscape is all about constant sharing. While this openness can feel a bit excessive at times, it’s become the world that we live in today and has even spilled over into the business realm. The modern consumer no longer looks to traditional advertising to sway their consumer behavior. They’re tech-savvy and research driven, which means they are watching brands even when the spotlight is off. With all eyes (always) on you, your brand must continually be on it's authenticity game.
Well to put it simply, authenticity is about being yourself and telling a story that is uniquely your own. Consumers are no longer interested in the perfect branded package. They want real stories and a human connection and the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ mentality won’t work here. Why? Well like we said before, consumers are always watching. The digital world is too connected a place to lie about who you are. Someone will always notice.
Now, for those of you who are concerned that being yourself will rub some people the wrong way, you’re probably right. Not everyone is going to like you. The good news is that success is often equal parts lovers and haters. People simply don’t get excited about cardboard cut-outs, they want passion and maybe even a little dash of crazy. So, go ahead, let your freak flag fly, let your authenticity show.
Of course, being yourself can be tricky business, especially for those of us that have been donning a branded disguise for most of our lives. Fortunately, while there is no specific recipe for authenticity (it’s different for every brand) there are a few things brands can do to set themselves on the right track.
One of the best ways to foster authenticity is to think about your brand as a person and to cultivate relationships with customers as you would real friendships. This means not only sharing your own story but engaging and listening to their stories as well. It means getting involved and becoming a valuable member of the community. Relationships are a two-way street – make sure your brand isn’t taking up both lanes.
If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. Whether it’s your brand messaging or inappropriate tweets liked by your CEO on Twitter – the spotlight never sleeps. This means it’s more important than ever to be consistent with your story, values, and actions so that nobody can accuse your brand of being fake. The best way to ensure brand-wide consistency is to engage your employees. The more they know about the brand, the more likely they can promote and interact with it according to your core values and beliefs.
Well, turns out our mothers were right about yet another thing, honesty really is the best policy. In fact, a study of 12 different markets found that a resounding 91% of consumers felt communicating honestly about products and services was the most important behavior for brands to display. Transparency is key here, especially when brands falter. Consumers are more willing to forgive a brand that can admit fault than one that tries to cover it up. Remember, authenticity is about adding a humanness to your brand and humans make mistakes. Own up, don’t cover up and your consumers will thank you.
While you may have heard us say this before, it still holds true – nobody does authenticity like micro-influencers. It’s a non-negotiable prerequisite to growing a loyal following (without pre-existing fame). Micro-influencers are passionate, real, active members of the community, which is exactly what brands are trying to emulate. So, what better way to foster authenticity than partnering up with those who do it best? (Bonus points if they’re actual customers as well)
There is no denying the overwhelming demand for authenticity / transparent branding. After decades of increasing and often encroaching levels of advertising, consumers have had enough. The trust is gone and there is really only one way to build it back up – authenticity.
What are you waiting for? Shed that branded disguise of yours and dive in, the water is warm – we promise.