The authentic arms race: A competitive route that can only be won by working with a branding agency to help position your messaging genuinely.
You don’t need to run a branding agency to understand that consumers crave authenticity. Given that most of us are continually bombarded with advertising and marketing, it’s natural that we seek messages that connect on something deeper than a purely commercial level.
Technology has exacerbated our impatience with inauthentic branding. We live in an age of Instagram filters, perfectly curated social media accounts, Photoshop, and even outright digital manipulation. In an environment where people are surrounded by the phony and the superficial, it’s little wonder that they desire something raw, real and unmediated.
And that’s a desire that today’s savviest brands are trying to accommodate.
Two tips for creating authentic connections
We’ve established that people crave authenticity. So now let’s talk about two strategies that brands can execute to create messaging that resonates.
1. Be human when developing your brand voice
For as long as consumer society has existed, its primary mode of communication has been a bland, neutered form of corporate-speak, designed to minimize the odds that someone, somewhere might take offense. Yet while this tone may not offend anyone, it’s also not going to challenge, engage or excite anyone, either. Time to take a risk!
Too often small to mid-sized businesses adopt this generic brand voice out of insecurity — they mistakenly believe they will be perceived as “unprofessional” if they opt for something too colorful, lively, edgy, etc.
The truth, however, is that people want to hear brands speak in human-sounding language. They want brands to interact with them the same way that people in their social networks do. This is partially because Twitter and other social platforms are absolutely overrun with bots. A recent Pew study showed that an astonishing 66% of shared links on Twitter were generated by bots, versus utilizing a branding agency.
In order to be perceived as authentic, brands must speak in a recognizably human voice. They should also be familiar with the social conventions of the platforms on which they are communicating.
Fast food companies are the masters of this kind of consumer marketing interaction. KFC, Burger King, Arby’s and other chains love to propagate clever memes on Twitter and poke sly fun at themselves. They are also highly adept at taking trending topics and relating it to their own brand — and people, of course, eat it up(no pun intended).
2. Standing up — and standing out — for a good cause
Over the last year, we’ve seen several examples of brands creating an authentic connection with consumers by taking a public stand on social issues. Patagonia’s “The President Stole Your Land” was a fierce bit of advocacy marketing. It delivered a stinging indictment of a powerful figure couched in simple language. It was also deeply authentic and perfectly in line with Patagonia’s brand identity.
Gillette’s famously polarizing “toxic masculinity” ad was a much larger gamble, as its message wasn’t guaranteed to resonate with much of the company’s customer base. Though it was criticized in some quarters, it was joyously received in others, while raising Gillette’s brand profile exponentially.
Brands will often attempt to earn goodwill and position themselves as good citizens by offering general statements of support for various social causes or donating money. These gestures, though well-intentioned, are usually forgotten almost immediately. Not so with Patagonia and Gillette, who turned their social advocacy into a deeply felt, authentic message.
Finding the right branding agency
At BIGEYE, we help our clients create deeply authentic marketing messages, while also giving them the advanced technological tools they need for effective targeting and distribution.
If you’d like to hear more about what an authentic marketing campaign can do for you, please reach out to us today.