Are You Being Authentic?
I know it’s been a while, but I was working behind the scenes to launch Mate House, my new agency, as many of you may already know. But the good news is that I’m back! And from now on, I will be delivering a bi-monthly newsletter with some of my thoughts I think you might find helpful.
If you check in here, on social media, or have signed up for the course Using Trends As Your Thinking Partner, you probably have noticed I enjoy getting into topics that revolve around language. Authenticity, Influence, and Purpose are three big words that brands should define and use correctly. In this newsletter and a couple more to come, I will delve into what these words have meant in the recent past, what they mean now, and what they could mean in the near-term future.
For years brand communications meant brands and marketers, PR firms, and ad agencies worked to create messages ‘their consumers wanted to receive’. Actions and campaigns had one goal, to resonate with current sentiments, whether or not they formed part of the brand’s ethos. Social media became a catalyst for direct marketing tactics and a springboard for launching complaints about the brands themselves. Confidence in brand authenticity plummeted every time we tuned in and saw not only the general public calling out a brand but their employees accusing them of (insert one or more: green, woke, or the ever-growing, purpose)____ washing.
“Social media is a medium that doesn’t always do sincerity well, it doesn’t do selflessness well.” – Trevor Noah
In 2021 consumers will only trust brands that show action-led authenticity and concentrate on their narrative first instead of running behind the trending topic. Brands must remember they are not the only choice – the sky has become the limit. People are using value systems to guide them in their everyday purchases, not just the aspirational ones. The expectation of authenticity is now a standard for judgment by which we hold brands and influencers to the test.
There is hope for a new version of authenticity to blossom, and with it, trust can be recultivated, regained, and restored. Here are a few final things to keep in mind:
1- There is always a choice. You have to work to win a vote of confidence, by walking the talk with inclusivity, transparency, purpose, and/or whichever your core values are.
2- Authenticity is still the buzzword used to assess individuals and institutions, but now authenticity is considered meaningless unless it is in-step with honest and evident action.
3- You know you have a footprint, even if it is only digital, and the expectation that you do something about it is no longer an emerging one for your customers.
Your clients now crave an (r)evolution. So show them what you’ve got!