Thursday, September 15, 2016

3 ways to increase your brand's authenticity

You want truth. You want honesty. You want a true connection.

This isn't a ad, this is what you want from a company you're buying from. And, coincidentally, what your customers want from you.

We've spent decades trusting the powers that be only to be deceived by experts. Daddy knows best, Doctor knows best, and scholarly journals know best. Those are all lies. Or at least that's what we've now come to believe. (Note: I am no expert on your father's level of honesty. Let's leave it at that.)

This runs from top to bottom. No one trusts any candidate currently running for president. We don't trust the doctor prescribing our name-brand wonder drug. All our food is covered in poison so we need to buy organic, if we can even trust that word anymore. And least of all, we can't trust a deep voice on TV telling us 9 out of 10 professionals trust brand X to do all your Y for you. It's all scripted, and dammit, we know it.

We're starting to see brand shifts from several leaders in the advertising industry.

Coca-Cola, which is always a leader in branding with their agency Ogilvy, has made their brand advertisements more global and more gritty. They've gone from from a Gwen Stefani sugar pop music video to a Spanish-language coming of age indie film shot with a hand-held camera.

Look at all the coming of age honesty and shallow depth of field! So much truth!
You see more "realty" advertising than ever. Chevy has people in a studio react to something that's been set up to be surprising. How many times can we hear "oh! the Chevy?!" (this advertising needs to stop.How many ads start with "these are real people, not actors." (As The Atlantic says, "Just how excited can a normal person get about JD Power awards?") Yes, some of this is annoying, but in my opinion, it's better than clearly scripted, professional actors pretending to tell you a "real" story. And light years beyond 80's characters in backwards hats overreacting a bite of the most banal, tasteless frozen food product.

Ear protection = painful freakin honesty

So what does this mean to you as you connect with your customers? Take a more honest approach to your marketing and advertising. These three
  1. Use actual reviews in your advertising and marketing. You need to get permission to do this, but that's always a good reason to offer a discount or a free product as thanks.
  2. Use snapchat. You think this may be more familiar to your millennial niece than your target demographic, but you may be surprised. This social channel has earned a reputation for more honesty as the pictures and videos sent disappear after viewing. So unboxing a new product? Snap it! Have a fun pet in the store? Snap it! Want to show how beautiful your latest work is? Snap it! Follow up on other channels too, but you can connect with more honesty and no filters with your customers on Snapchat (note: there are ways to save and recall photos and videos, so don't get too crazy)
  3. Let your personality and/or strengths show in your efforts.Whether your brand personality is established, growing, or non existent, you can certainly let your strengths show in your social media - a channel that is supposed to be more conversational - but consider extending that to any more formal marketing as well. We are all developing a nose for advertising BS, so if you are faking a personality, your customers will know it.
Bonus: Tell the world we might be living in a video game. Just kidding, I think. But the video from Bill Nye the Science Guy is about as honest as it gets. Even as a guy who's brand is "knowing everything," he basically says "I don't think I could figure it out, but if you can, go for it."

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