Stop selling, start engaging. At a time where consumers have lost trust in advertising, authentic marketing is the most valuable strategy a brand can have.
- Only 56% of the general population trust businesses according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.
- By definition, marketing is not authentic, it is used by businesses to showcase themselves in the best light, and it usually involves the omission of details that might be negative for the brand image.
- This has now been spun on its head, with honesty and transparency being powerful tools in a company’s arsenal, so that they can connect more genuinely with their target audience.
According to Geoff Beattie, Cohn Global Practice Leader of Corporate Affairs, when people consider an authentic company, they think of
“a brand that has values and morals and stands by them no matter what while honestly divulging its practices (flaws and all). In fact, the thing people most wanted was open and honest communications about products and services. And that finding was consistent around the world.”
Marketing strategies, especially on social media, generally rely on reality and fantasy combined, and the ability to capitalise on popular trends, all of which, unless adapted to a brand’s core message, can appear inauthentic to consumers.
In this digital era, consumers are increasingly savvy, and now hold brands to a higher standard, taking the time to dissect their message and they are now quick to criticise brands that appear deceitful or inconsistent.
Consistency is a crucial part of authenticity. Amongst a fragmented media environment, brand messaging can vary, and despite the need to adapt content relevant to the context and audience it targets, it is important that the underlying brand message remains consistent.
Brands should focus on showing, not telling. They should provide their consumers with solid evidence to back up their mission statements, this gives way for their consumers to get involved and share those missions. The brands below are just a couple of those paving the way for authenticity in marketing.
Dove began their campaign for ‘Real Beauty’ back in 2004, it is now known as the ‘Dove Self-Esteem Project’, which saw a soap company transform itself into a company with an authentic and real message. Their new mission statement was changed to,
“Beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety.”
Through consistently aligning their marketing efforts alongside this mission statement, Dove demonstrated to their target audience that they are a brand who authentically promote women’s empowerment. As a result, they succeeded in tapping into and changing the conversation surrounding beauty.
What reinforces Dove’s authenticity is their commitment to changing the perception of beauty, they began this movement over a decade ago and today it still continues. The ‘Dove Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign demonstrates how Dove has coordinated their mission to help women with their marketing strategy - this ad received nearly 135 million views in total and was the most watched viral ad campaign of 2013.
Since their inception, Patagonia’s mission statement has been the driving force behind everything they do, from their culture, manufacturing, and to their marketing message, the mission statement resonates throughout.
Their core values are: to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to protect nature, and to not bind themselves to any convention. Patagonia ensures their message is consistent with these values and authentic by for example, investing in renewable energy, building durable products with raw materials where possible, and donating 1% of their sales to grassroots environmental groups worldwide, to name a few.
In particular, their ‘Worn Wear Program’, which allows consumers to buy and sell used Patagonia items, stands out. Their goal is to make their clothes go further and reduce overall consumption.
Consumers respond positively to Patagonia, because as a brand they stand strongly behind all their convictions while ensuring their marketing strategy is in line with their values, all of which contribute to a genuinely authentic brand that has built a loyal customer base that contributes to driving success.
An authentic brand is the first to admit when they are selling to consumers, they do not attempt to cloud this by jumping on any trend or adopting values that do not represent their own mission statement. The most authentic brands embrace the fact that they will interrupt their consumers, but do so in a way that adds value, engages, and makes a real connection.