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  • Writer's pictureJane Hayes Consulting

The Search For Authenticity.

Updated: 2 days ago

How Do You Stay Authentic When Your Job Is To Promote A Brand? The modern customer wants the truth, not the spin!

A black and white photo of a woman looking at the camera. Her face in warped with a zigzar pattern mid way down her face.

Welcome back to the working year! We hope you’re recharged and ready to create magic in 2023. At the end of last year, Jane Hayes Consulting discussed some of the trends set to be on top for 2023 and today; we are going to take you through one of the most essential – Authenticity - The Search For Authenticity.


I can hear you saying authenticity isn’t a trend, and you’re right; it should be something every brand strives for every day, not just for a season. In saying this, it’s trending as a backlash from overly produced content; and brands that don’t listen to their audience; the modern customer wants the truth, not the spin!


Authenticity in marketing can be showcased in many forms, from displaying customer reviews to creating in-office content that showcases the people behind the brand, the tone and style you use in your branded content and through the selection of strategic partnerships, such as influencers or ambassadors. Connecting with associated causes is an excellent way for a brand to showcase its heart and what they care about. It all comes down to strategy, don’t just jump on a bandwagon; listen to your audience, what they care about, and at the same time, look at your brand objectives and personality and think about how you can show your true authentic selves.


Customers want to connect with brands, feel seen and heard and want less polish. Now, this doesn’t mean you can let your standards slip; it just means you need to showcase the brand’s heart and bond with your audience. A genuine brand with a real voice can cut through a noisy market and help customers choose your brand over competitors. By being open and honest about their values and what their product can do for customers, companies can use authenticity in marketing efforts to reach larger audiences while building a name for themselves as a reputable brand.


“According to research covered in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article, “fully connected” customers are worth 52% more than “highly satisfied” customers. “


Avoid The Pitfalls:

With the desire to present authenticity, some brands can risk coming across as the opposite. Some examples of this can be aligning to a cause on the lead-up and day of acknowledgement or celebration, then failing to mention the cause throughout the remainder of the year or failing to create change aligned with the issue internally. Modern audiences are savvy, and these failures can speak loudly about the intention of a business. If you are to align with a cause, do so with your full power at various levels of your business, we can look at ANZ bank, for example, which got behind the LGBTQIA+ community and supported many activations, including Sydney pride; they backed this up through inclusivity in their business structure, a focus on diversity and inclusion and other activities that showcase that the company is not just supporting the cause for appearance’s sake, they actually care. This has helped ANZ bank to create authentic relationships with its customers and audiences.


1. What is authenticity in marketing, and why is it important?

2. How can you be authentic in your own marketing efforts?

3. What are some common pitfalls to avoid when trying to be authentic in your marketing?

4. Examples of brands that have successfully embraced authenticity in their marketing campaigns.

5. Tips for staying true to your brand while still engaging with your audience



1. What is authenticity in marketing, and why is it important?

Connection is important; you can have the best product or service, but if you’re not honest and connected to your audience, you won’t develop bonds and can run the risk of missing out on loyalty from your customers and sales. Authenticity from a brand or marketing perspective is when a business speaks from the heart and to a cause that connects with its brand ethos.


They don’t pretend to be something they’re not and back up support for issues displayed through their marketing in their business structure. A brand that talks about sustainability and then doesn’t practice environmental efforts in the day-to-day running of its business will come across as disingenuous and will lose the trust of savvy audiences.


According to Oberlo, 88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands, they like and support.


2. How can you be authentic in your own marketing efforts?

We know authenticity is important in marketing, but how can you showcase your brand’s authenticity and not come across as trying too hard, which can be disastrous. Before you start a campaign, listen to your audience, see what they are talking about and what’s important to them and then look at your business and its objectives and personality.


How can you add to supporting the issue on a continual basis? When you have found an issue or cause you think will match well, think about how you can communicate your involvement with your audience. You can have the best of intentions and choose a great cause to connect with that works for your businesses, but if you fail to show your heart and intention in your marketing efforts, you can come across as inauthentic, and you could face a backlash. Speak in an authentic voice, don’t push the issue too far or be too aggressive, be open to feedback and listen to your audience's response. By doing so, you can show you care and that you are true in your support. Apart from brand activism, you can showcase authenticity by being transparent, displaying customer reviews, responding to audience feedback, don’t pretend to be something you’re not and follow through with offers or promises.


3. What are some common pitfalls to avoid when trying to be authentic in your marketing?

As mentioned above, be true to your audience, and brand and back up what you say. Empty promises and false support are so transparent in today's marketplace that and can lead to a loss of customers and irreparable damage to your business's name. Strive to showcase your brand personality and authenticity by finding ways to connect with customers truthfully and personally at all times. Find ways to be real, relevant, meaningful, and true to your mission and values without overselling or pushing your message upon consumers in an attempt to make the sale. If done correctly, you can create an inviting narrative that resonates with potential customers while avoiding common pitfalls.


According to Oberlo, 64% of consumers would buy from a brand or boycott it solely because of its position on a social or political issue.


4. Examples of brands that have successfully embraced authenticity in their marketing campaigns.

Not all brands are created equal regarding their approach to authentic messaging. Some try and fail; some don’t try, and others stand out from the crowd through their ability to make connections and show heart and an understanding of their audience. Below, we look at examples from brands that have successfully embraced authenticity in their campaigns and businesses and, through doing so, have tapped into the hearts of their audience. Most link to causes that connect with their product or service; they speak and sculpt their content with genuine heart and showcase an understanding of their audience.



Google:

Google knows how to pull at heartstrings with its campaigns and show its product in action. Through real human stories, they create bonds with their audience, who can sympathise or see themselves in their stories. The example we see above is from 2021 and is linked to their partnership with the Australian Football League. The campaign tells a story of a young girl wanting to play football and a dad, who doesn’t know the sport, then researching on google on how to support her. It’s touching and relatable, and the casting reflects the diversity of Australia.


Another campaign from the brand tells the story of a granddaughter and grandmother. The grandmother has dementia, and the granddaughter googles the effects of memory loss and the club colours from the team her grandmother played for in her youth; next, we see them at a game, and the grandmother lights up with connection and passion for a sport and club she loved. Many viewers will relate to this story of a loved one losing their memories and wanting to bring joy to them, so this campaign and the way it’s produced showcases the brand’s heart. Google taps into genuine human emotion in this campaign series and talks to the inclusivity in the sport and for its ability to connect generations and cultures. The brand chooses to focus on topics that are on top of mind for audiences to help shine a light on social issues, like the examples above, both cultural integration and community and the sadness of dementia and its effects.


An inclusive ad for Bonds.

Bonds:

Bonds is a household name and have the secret under clothing for many of us through its 108 years of existence. They have prided themselves on being the first item you put on and the last you take off and about feeling comfortable in your skin. Through the years, Bonds has focused on many issues facing society, from LGBTQIA+ issues and their partnership with Minus18 to inclusivity and their support for Red Nose Day and creating safer sleep for babies. They not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk!


They work with not-for-profits and causes that affect their audience and showcase that they have genuine care. Their activism aside, they promote their desire for inclusivity through their campaigns that showcase the beautiful textures of society, from the bright and colourful to the minimal and demure they are authentic in their voice, and this shines through in their efforts. Bonds champion their audience, by featuring them in their marketing efforts; their tone is accessible, joyous and inclusive.


“Some 71% of consumers think it’s important for brands to raise awareness and take a stand on sensitive issues, while 48% of marketers believe businesses need to speak out on social issues to stay relevant on social media.” Sproutsocial


An ad for Dove Beauty.

Dove:

Dove is an excellent example of a brand that pulses with a genuine message. They are at the forefront of body and skin positivity through their inclusive campaigns, such as love the skin you’re in and real beauty. Through their campaigns and actionist approach, they have established themselves as an inclusive brand for all women and have earnt a loyal following. They use real models, everyday people, and strategic influencers to help cut through the noise of the beauty world with incredible effect.


Dove takes the mantle that beauty is for everyone, a line that wasn’t far stretching when they first delved into a more inclusive model. To support its mission, Dove has created the Dove Self-Esteem Project, an initiative that works to help parents, mentors, teachers, and youth leaders to deliver self-esteem education to community youth. They add to this through resources via their website, and these initiatives and resources showcase the genuine care the brand has and speaks loudly of authenticity.


Street posters for Who Gives A Crap

Who Gives A Crap:

Who Gives A Crap is an example of a brand that is unapologetically themselves. They use bright colours, causal language and humour in their packaging and marketing, which works on many levels. One of their vital company elements is that they have a social consciousness; it’s at the heart of their business model, giving back to less prosperous communities through selling their products. It means that a consumer can feel like they are making a difference when purchasing from the brand, which is one of the reasons they have developed such a loyal following.


Who Gives A Crap is a fantastic example of an authentic brand. They know themselves, and their audience, they listen, and they put their money where their mouth is. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not, and they have been able to make toilet paper a pretty benign product filled with personality and humour. The brand is transparent on where the money goes and empowers communities to take the lead in their journeys going forward.


Flat lay of product from Zero Co

Zero Co:

Zero Co is an Australian-owned and run business focusing on eliminating single-use plastics across kitchen, bathroom, and laundry products. Co-founded by Mike Smith, it’s a local example of brand authenticity; they don’t just talk about sustainability and feature it in their marketing efforts; they act through their business model. A customer can have their forever bottles delivered, refills and prepaid postage for the return of empty packaging that is then recycled by the brand. They are transparent in their approach and brand mission, and their aesthetically appealing packaging helps to encourage a purchase.


They back up their environmental efforts through initiatives to clean up waste around the world. They’re unapologetic change-makers and are honest in their messaging. Through their marketing efforts, you get a glimpse of the owner's personal life, their story on why and how they started the brand and their desire to save the planet for not only the next generation but the one after. Apart from their activism, they are fresh and honest in their approach to marketing; they consistently use bright pastel tones, and informal language and encourage their audience to join them on their journey step by step.


An ad for Absolute Vodka

Absolut Vodka:

The Swedish vodka brand prides itself on bringing people together and promoting inclusivity and sustainability. These brand pillars are reflected in their packaging, marketing efforts and involvement in activations and projects that support the causes they're passionate about. The brand has been a long-time supporter and advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community, featuring people from the community in their campaigns, supporting conversations and creating safe spaces for discussion. Out&Open is the brand's initiative to support the LGBTQIA+ community.


The initiative aims to help support inclusive spaces that can run the risk of closing; via their website, you can listen to queer stories and donate to support their efforts. In 2020 Absolut focused its efforts on its campaigns to talk about consent. This was the result of research conducted by Absolut with KRC Research that looked at statistics relating to consent and alcohol. The campaign stretched digital, print, and social; the brand backed up its support for the social issue by donating to RAINN – an organisation that focuses on supporting victims of rape, abuse, and incest every time someone reposted an ad. These are just some of the ways in which the Absolut brand showcases its authenticity and, through its actions, has created bonds with its audience.


5. Tips for staying true to your brand while still engaging with your audience.

We have looked at why authenticity is important for your brand in the modern environment; looked at examples of brands that do it well; now it’s time to look at how you and your brand can do this while remaining true to your essence.


· Stay on brand with your tone, colours, and imagery.

· If connecting to a cause, choose one that fits your brand personality and objectives.

· The cause you choose to back should not just appear in your marketing collateral; it should be a part of your business structure.

· Your campaign imagery should represent your audience.

· Know and stay true to your social personality.

· Be responsive.

· Be creative and consistent.

· Be transparent.

· Acknowledge errors.

· Personalise your communications.





Jane Hayes Consulting, Leading You Through The Digital World:

Jane Hayes Consulting is an independent digital marketing agency founded to help businesses create consistent, creatively aligned, and strategic content. We can help you put your best foot forward with our expertly crafted team covering website design and building, marketing strategy, content creation, brand creation, and project management. Jane Hayes Consulting works within budget restraints and looks toward the future. Need assistance in developing your digital strategy and creating a business advantage? Contact Jane Hayes Consulting today and sign up for our newsletter.


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