A brand is nothing more than the representation of a product in the consumer’s mind. But this mental image is everything. The richer the emotional content, the more likely a consumer will become a loyal customer.
The original “idea” of authenticity was a way for corporations to attempt to sound less corporate in their marketing efforts. With the rise of social media, brands are increasingly becoming more conversational, presenting themselves intimately with words, visuals, and advertising.
To be memorable in a crowded digital world you need to engage your audience with honesty first. It’s sometimes challenging to work around corporate weaknesses and be totally transparent, yet sincere communication is the state where deep trust and brand loyalty are born.
VALUES VS BUSINESS GOALS: FINDING YOUR INNER TRUTH
What is your value proposition? Very few organizations know why they do what they do. Are you in the game to simply make profits? A profit is a result, not your core purpose.
Being in business isn’t just about sales; it is about fulfilling a need, solving a challenge, or making things easier. The companies that do this best believe in something bigger. For your marketing to be successful, you need a clear positioning statement that supports your objectives. This pledge should also be a declaration your fans can be proud of.
Evaluate your business’ DNA. Why does your organization exist and why should anyone care? Be honest. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” (Simon Sinek).
Organize your advertising around your core beliefs. By marketing your principals, you will attract the loyalty of all those who believe in your vision.
Honesty is the keystone of successful marketing campaigns. Once you have identified your moral code, you need to embrace that story. Walk the talk. Be honest, bold, insightful, and a little edgy. Those who lead inspire us.
HOW TO FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES
Speak your truth publicly. Offer a behind-the-scenes of what’s going on at your company. It’s out of discomfort that organizations are stimulated to grow and develop.
Going against your stated beliefs can only hurt your reputation. Especially in times of crisis, offer only your most sincere words. Looking at United’s recent debacle, a half-apology only makes matters worse.
Acting quickly and speaking from the heart could have saved United the many operational blunders and bad PR. Better yet, United could have turned the situation around by coming forth with human emotions. A meaningful apology should have been offered right away to create waves of positive sentiment. We all make mistakes and can relate to a brand expressing its own public humiliation, deep remorse, and regret. Sincerity and transparency create trust, which creates kinship, which creates customers, which creates profits. Yet, most companies simply do not have the courage to embrace straight-talk.
Make your customer the hero of your storyline. Inspire your fans and welcome consumer-generated content. Valuing your customer and providing impeccable service is the stepping-stone for expansion.
How to be authentic? You need to engage in frequent honest communication and demonstrate sincere interest. Transparency is key. Keep your promises and always do what’s right by putting your customers first. You’re here to be helpful and create a positive outcome. It’s just the kind of company you are. 94 percent of consumers say transparency is important to their purchase decisions.
A reputation takes so long to build but could be instantly tarnished by the wrong associations. The Pepsi “protest ad” made Pepsi a laughing subject overnight.
Brands should never try to position themselves in the best light through a cultural movement; instead, they should open up to sincere communication and only touch on cultural topics if they are really involved, and care. We’re clearly in an age of unprecedented consumer empowerment, where a review of your products is just a Google search and tweet away.
With the rise of social media, the whole world feels more friendly and interconnected. This trend is catching up to embrace the corporate world. Businesses are “humanizing” their image and presenting personal stories fans can identify with. Yesterday’s monolithic companies are replaced by brands with personality.
fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, facts, and figures). Emotional engagement is becoming key to successful marketing as most buying decisions are made based on 70% emotional information and 30% rational facts.
As consumers crave authenticity, brands are building a personal relationship, conveying trust, comfort, and understanding. Studies have found that positive emotions toward a business have a far greater influence on consumers’ loyalty then other attributes of the product.
Being authentic implies being memorable. This means creating marketing campaigns with images and metaphors that resonate with your public or break expectations. Being authentic promises emotions. Your online communication should leave customers empathizing with your storyline. Being authentic is also an immersive experience. Make your content interactive with sounds, movement, and colors. Invite your audience to feel like they are actually there.
When you combine the elements of authenticity and excitement to your marketing, magic ignites. You become an authority in your field, and you build tribes of loyal followers who can ultimately become loyal customers.
Results like these take creative inspiration and Internet know-how. It’s an effort; you need to put in the work, the analysis, and the vision.
We’re game. How about you?