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The Age of Authenticity

August 12, 2020


The Age of Authenticity

One thing I’ve noticed in the last few months is that lockdown has jumpstarted a lot of trends. Some experts say we’ve leapt years ahead in just eight weeks in terms of our adoption of ecommerce.

That’s a huge step forward. We were already going there, but we were moving at a more relaxed pace.

This has happened with lots of other trends, especially when it comes to marketing. The pace of change has been so great, Marketers and Brand Managers may feel they need a brand new playbook for the “next normal.”

One of the trends that’s kicked into hyperspeed is customer demand for authenticity. We were already dancing around this topic, talking about how Gen Z wants to see more authenticity from brands, especially on social media. But where we were able to test the waters before, brand authenticity is suddenly indispensable.

We could say we’ve now officially entered the Age of Authenticity. What does that mean for our brands?

Getting Back to Brand Basics

The first step in making sure our brands are ready for this new age is figuring out what we’re all about. We need to take a step back and look at our brand’s purpose, what’s really driving us forward.

Profit motive is not the answer to this question—we always have a higher calling that goes beyond this. If you don’t know what it is, it’s time to do some soul-searching for your brand. What is it that our customers turn to us for? Don’t forget you can always ask them!

This is the core of our brand, our essence. Everything we build needs to be centered around it, which is why we have to be sure we know it!

Think of this as “getting back to basics.” Every slogan, every jingle, every image we associate with our brand should reflect this core. Same with our vision and mission statement, our values and brand beliefs. These parts of our brand identity build on this most basic element of our brands.

It’s a chemistry lesson—boil it down, break it down, and figure out what we’re really made of.

Building Bridges with Your Customers

You know that saying, you can’t love anyone until you love yourself? There’s a kernel of truth somewhere in there for our brands. It’s a bit more like “you can’t relate to anyone until you know yourself.”

That’s why we have to get back to our brand essence if we’re going to thrive in the age of authenticity. We can’t bring our authentic selves to the table if we don’t even know who we are as brands. If we have no idea what our higher purpose is, how can we tell our customers they should shop with us?

In that scenario, our customers—especially our most loyal customers—will see right through us. That means we’re not being sincere or authentic with them. And that’s what today’s customers demand from us. They want us to show our true colours. They don’t want to ever feel like they’ve been lied to or duped, so they’re wary of brands.

Why is that? Today’s customers—particularly Gen Z—build deep relationships with the brands they buy from. That’s why they’re so concerned with things like our values; they want to know we’re on the same page with them. And if we’re not? They don’t want to be “friends” with us on Facebook, nor do they want to give us their money—or their trust.

That’s why we need to be authentic with them when we come to the table. If we want to build a relationship with these customers, we have to show them that they can and should trust us—that we are on the same page!

Think about it like a bridge. You and the customer are both willing to build, but the customer has to know they can trust your work before they’ll feel safe. If they think your work is a little shoddy or your foundations a little shaky, they’re not even going to finish their side of the bridge!

Lockdown Put New Focus on Relationships

Like I said, we were already trending towards more authenticity. So why is it suddenly in the spotlight like this?

Lockdown put a renewed focus on our relationships. We’ve had to think a lot about how we relate to the people around us. We also had to think about those communities at large. Think about the push to “shop small” and support local business owners.

We’re really looking at our relationships, figuring out what’s important to us. Lockdown gave us a chance to do some deep thinking on this point. We’re rethinking brand relationships as a result.

Brands have also been in the hotseat. How have you responded to your customers or worked to protect your employees? What have you done to support the communities you’re working in during this challenging time? What commitments have you made to supporting those communities, to supporting people as we move forward?

How you reacted—and how you move forward—will affect how people relate to your brand. Do you have the same values? Lockdown has changed us, so we’re not the same people that we were before. Our values have shifted, and brands need to recognize that!

Getting back to basics will help us as we build authentic relationships with our customers. Knowing our brands and who they are will help us build those bridges and connect with customers who share similar values.

When authenticity is key, then having a clear vision of our brand essence is vital. So start with the why!


Meet Margo…brand visioning & marketing

Margo Jay is a Master Brand Strategist with a career leading globally recognized brands; developing and launching a proven model that maximizes competitive sales potential and consumer appeal. She has built the model to help companies of all sizes. Her Client roster includes entrepreneurs through to Fortune 100 brands: NHL teams, Global QSR brands, CPG brands, Broadcast brands, Agencies, Non Profit brands, Hard goods…this model and process provides competitive advantage in any category.

Complete clarity. Ownable distinct selling proposition. Shared values. Brand Clarity. Brand Focus. Brand Inspiration. Brand Obsession. Unlocking brand potential is what she does.

And it all starts with why!

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