Stop selling, start engaging. Where trust is a highly valued commodity, authentic marketing is essential in a brand's strategy to stay competitive.
- By definition, marketing is not authentic. It is used by businesses to showcase themselves in the best possible light and it usually involves the omission of details that might be negative for the brand experience.
- According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 56% of the general population trust businesses.
- Marketing has undergone a revamp, with honesty and transparency leading the way as powerful tools in a company’s arsenal, allowing them to connect more genuinely with their target audience.
When the general public consider an authentic company, they think of
“a brand that has values and morals and stands by them no matter what, while honestly divulging it's 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.” Geoff Beattie, Cohn Global Practice Leader of Corporate Affairs.
Technology is developing at a great speed and with it, brand strategies are becoming increasingly complex. Amongst these great technological advancements, it is easy for marketers to forget the power of our most basic method of communication - our voice.
Voice is a marketer’s way to express themselves and connect with their consumers. It provides a vehicle to humanise the brand. Finding the ‘right’ voice has always been paramount because when companies feel like people, consumers want to ‘befriend’ them, at the end of the day, people buy people.
86% of consumers say authenticity is crucial when deciding what brands they like and support, Stackla.
Storytelling is a hot buzzword in the industry but is ineffective unless told with authenticity, transparency and personalisation. When this is achieved, the brand’s voice has more power and flexibility, and when combined with technological advancements, this voice has the opportunity to make a noticeable impact on consumers.
57% of consumers think that less than half of the brands they encounter, create content that resonates as authentic, Stackla.
A brand voice is now the most effective and influential method in starting a two-way conversation with consumers, it ensures that the content they create will directly value and therefore resonate with this audience.
If a brand can resonate with their audience, they create an opportunity for consumers to be a part of their conversation, forming a community which will develop a lasting relationship. This authentic and shared connection encourages consumers to talk about the brand with friends and family to make recommendations - the brand voice becomes personalised to each consumer, converting them into an advocate of the brand.
The concept of word-of-mouth marketing has become increasingly popular and powerful. A research study carried out by Oracle, that involved over 1,100 consumers across generations found that 88% of consumers trust service and product recommendations made by the people they know.
Agencies must acknowledge the importance of an authentic voice regardless of whether their content is created for engagement, loyalty or growth. By speaking in the language of their audience, brands will connect with them more effectively. Despite the continuous change in communication methods, brands have a responsibility to adapt, refine and refocus their approach to deliver the best brand experience.
Authenticity can sometimes be deprioritised when brands forget to listen to exactly what their audience wants or is telling them.
Brand activism has recently become more popular, with 86% of consumers stating they want brands to take a stand on social issues. Understanding how to implement a sense of brand belonging regarding these social issues, whilst doing so with a relevant and meaningful purpose, is now a prerequisite to stay competitive amongst brands. However, a lot of brands miss the mark and try too hard to enter a space that does not relate to their brand or audience. Some brands do this to simply ‘look good’ and consumers will not be afraid to call this out.
Brands that use their voice to stand strongly behind their convictions, while ensuring their marketing strategy is in line with their values, will create an authentic brand experience and build a loyal customer base.
So what is an authentic voice?
An authentic voice can make consumers feel something, it encourages them to participate in the conversation and makes them think. In a world where technology, conversation and expectations are always developing, brands need to stay ahead.
Audiences are more actively seeking purpose and meaning from brands. They want a voice that can quickly, but authentically adapt to these trends and opportunities of the future. Brands have a responsibility to not only speak with craft, awareness and knowledge, but they must do so in a way which is genuine and aligns with their audience to ensure they stay competitive.