The dictionary defines “authentic” as “not false or copied; genuine; real.” Pretty straight forward. So why are so many people, companies, and brands struggling to be, and come across as, authentic?
This question arises of course at a time when people are becoming ever-more skeptical about trusting brands and companies. Perhaps marketing has become a bit too clever to be relatable. Customers are human beings, not “targets.”
In a recent brand survey published in Adweek, respondents said they wouldn’t care if 75% of brands disappeared; 71% of customers are tired of brands’ empty promises; and 64% would pay more for brands that had a purpose beyond profit.
So, what does it mean to be authentic – genuine, real – in the public sphere?
KNOW AND SHARE YOUR VALUES
To be true to yourself and others, you’ve got to know what matters to you. Think about what brings you, customers and colleagues joy and satisfaction, what gives your life and business meaning or purpose, and the causes you care about. Share those qualities, showcase your values and ethics. Lead by example.
BE CONSISTENT, PLAIN, HUMAN
When you know what your brand and company stand for, communicate plainly, with a consistent voice in every level of marketing and customer interaction — and in your internal communications. Consistency across the board is essential to build and maintain trust. Be human.
STAY IN YOUR LANE
Consumers have unlimited information at their fingertips. They’ll know when you’re taking positions or tailoring marketing to coincide with trends or issues just to sound current, even when the trends may be irrelevant to your identity or purpose. If you can’t speak authoritatively, maybe you shouldn’t comment. Don’t risk losing the trust you’ve worked hard to build. Stick to what you do best.
Be sensitive to the needs of others, listen carefully, and be willing to help them get what they need – customers and team members. Be nice.
PERSONALIZE EVERY INTERACTION
Treating your customers like humans means giving them a personalized experience – not an assembly line of marketing collateral – so they believe you’re genuinely interested in them and invested in their success and happiness. It stands to reason that companies offering the best customer experiences report significant revenue growth. Be nice, make money.
The bar on doing business successfully has been raised. It’s not enough for customers to buy great products; they want products from a great company – with good people, real values, consistency, and human connection. It’s the only way to build the trust that every person and business needs.