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“Authenticity” is the Success of Your Brand

Written By , 13 years ago

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I’ve been loaded with work and projects lately. So here is my article to prove of my still existence. Oh yeah, it’s about brand as whole and not specific to a brand identity as Logo. Just read and enjoy.

As a brand specialist, I’ve viewed many brand battles-just to win the consumers’ minds and hearts. I live in this busy city of Jakarta, and everyday I see many marketing buzzwords from all sort.
From billboards, magazines, TVCs, print ads, and other type of out-of-home medias. My translation to those buzzwords is “desperate and busy business people”. They are becoming over crowded, and just simply unpleasant to my eyes, ears, and mind. Is this another bull s**t with another over promise but under deliver mode? And they claim themselves that their brands are Authentic -making it and keeping it real, honest, genuine, and true.

So what it is “Authentic” really means. It just simply means “Original.” This word is very simple but it is hard to implement. So just being an original does not guarantee you that your brand will be perceived as authentic. You could be an ORIGINAL FAKE.

Most definitions used in branding circles also include the words “genuine” and or “trustworthy.” In The Authentic Brand it’s defined this way: “Worthy of belief and trust, and neither false nor unoriginal — in short, genuine and original.”

I think it’s also useful to look at the philosophical definition of the word… “being faithful to internal rather than external ideas.” In philosophy of art, “authenticity” describes the perception of art as faithful to the artist’s self, rather than conforming to external values such as historical tradition, or commercial worth.

This means and holds true for brands.

Authentic shall be faithful to something other than just making bucks. It has bigger and higher intention. Surely not to compromise core values in order to turn a fast money.
The Brand Authenticity Index says, “At its heart, authenticity is about practicing what you preach; being totally clear about who you are and what you do best.” When a brand’s rhetoric gets out of sync with customers’ actual experiences, the brand’s integrity and future persuasiveness suffers.”

I think the general public believes that marketing — by definition— is not authentic. Guilty until proven innocent! And if someone sniffs even a hint of corporate BS they’ll write about it to any conventional, online medias, and even blogs, post negative reviews and announce it to all 666 Facebook Friends. From there, another next victim will also write to his/ her 666 Facebook Friends, and so and so on. Before the brand owners know it, it becomes 6,666,666 Facebook Friends. The number of the king of the beast.


“Consumers believe, until they’re shown otherwise, that every brand is governed by an ulterior motive: to sell something. But if a brand can convincingly argue that its profit-making is only a by-product of a larger purpose, authenticity sets in.” – 2004 Fast Company article.

I picked up this say from the blog written by J. Furgurson. And here it is:
“Nobody ever starts a company with the goal of becoming an authentic brand. Think back to when Amazon, Starbucks, Nike and Apple were just startups. They were all authentic in the beginning. Each had a core group of genuinely passionate people dead-set on changing the world in some little way. And that esprit de core set the tone for the brand to be.

Patrick Ohlin, on the Chief Marketer Blog, says “Brand authenticity is itself an outcome—the result of continuous, clear, and consistent efforts to deliver truth in every touch point.” It’s a byproduct of doing things well. Treating people right. Staying focused. And not getting too greedy.

“Companies are under pressure to prove that what they stand for is something more than better, faster, newer, more,” said Lisa Tischler in Fast Company. “A company that can demonstrate it’s doing good — think Ben & Jerry’s, or Aveda — will find its brand image enhanced. But consumers must sense that the actions are sincere and not a PR stunt.”

Add the word “sincerity” to the definition. Sincerely try to do something that proves you’re not just another greedy, Goldman Sax.

In the age of corporate scandals and government bailouts, not all authentic brands are honest. If your brand values revolve around one thing — getting rich — it’s pretty tough build a genuinely trustworthy brand in the eyes of the world.”

Let’s talk about one of the famous and biggest the Multi Level Marketing (MLM).
What it is, is not important.

This MLM has their own troops of “independent sales associates,” they spray their mouth with mouth spray and it’s like their ritual, out there luring people to meetings under pretense and spreading a message that says, actually like this “who gives a damn if you don’t have any friends left. If you are large, rich, and wealthy it will not matter. We are here to be your friends.” Familiar? For some yes. I’ve been there and done that.

If they really wanted to help me that time, why they charged for a small not well designed with a not more than 20 pages flip charts for a relatively expensive price. And that’s just not it. Many other supporting presentation tools, books, cassette, etc. Hey… I need income! I am aware that in order to make money you have to spend money. But don’t rip me off already!

In order to become rich, I had to become the front-liner. The front-line culture seems to revolve around wealth at any cost. Then the corporate office trying to put a positive spin on the brand running fluffy, product-oriented, slice-of-life speeches. And again at every certain period of time, spray their mouth with a minty mouth spray like they have an acute breath problem. It’s so damn contagious. One does the spraying, everybody in the whole room starts doing it. At the end of the gathering or whatever, the whole mouth spray completely finished. A smile with the grin, buy another spray.
It’s a disconnect of epic proportions. But I digress.

Let’s assume you have a brand with a pretty good reputation for authenticity. How can you manage to maintain that reputation even when you’re growing at an astronomical rate?
1. Be clear about what you stand for. Communicate!
2. Underpromise and overdeliver
3. Don’t try to be something you’re not
4. Align your marketing messages with your brand
5. Be consistent.
6. Lead by example
7. Hire good PR people

Like it or not, the public’s sense of your brand authenticity often comes from what the press says. For instance, BMW’s claim of being “the ultimate driving machine” is constantly reinforced by the automotive press in head-to-head comparisons with Audi and Mercedes. According to those authoritative sources, it’s not a bullshit line.

Which really is the bottom line on brand authenticity. Don’t BS people.

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