a brand strategy that endures: Authenticity
“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” HOWARD SCHULTZ – CEO, STARBUCKS
We’ve all come across some special businesses. They’re the ones we find irresistible. You undoubtedly have some favourite businesses, and you’re a customer because there’s something about them you just can’t resist.
What is it about them that makes them irresistible; that creates the emotional connection that made you a customer?
The Human Factor
Irresistible businesses have human characteristics. We don’t identify with a business’s products and services and we don’t even necessarily identify with the people in the business. There’s more to it than that.
In law, an incorporated business is regarded as a separate legal entity. It’s treated as a different “person” than the owner(s) of the businesses.
In real life, people unconsciously view businesses in terms of human characteristics, as a separate “person.” Why? That’s what we can best relate to because we really have no other form of reference. We’re human, and we tend to inject human qualities into everything. It’s called anthropomorphism.
That’s why some companies have mascots or symbols with human qualities: Ronald McDonald, the Pillsbury doughboy, The Jolly Green Giant, The Michelin Man, to name a few. We equate these mascots with the businesses.
Your business’s Personality
Each business has a unique personality, and it’s usually not evident in its marketing and branding. But it’s there and existing customers know what it is. It could be any number of things: honest, fun, playful, passionate, creative, serious, engaging, boring, funny, noble, giving, interesting, smart, warm. Those are just a few examples.
We’re attracted to businesses because of their personalities. We’re social animals. We like to be with people who have personality traits similar to our own. That’s why Facebook is so popular: it’s a place to be social, a place to be with friends and other people with similar interests or personalities.
What kind of personality adjectives do we apply to businesses? Apple is innovative, creative; Southwest Airlines is fun and friendly; Virgin Airlines is rebellious; Mercedes is classy; Jeep is adventurous; Prius is frugal and environmentally conscious.
What’s the authentic personality of your business?
your only brand strategy: be Authentic
You really have no choice but to be authentic because people can sense unauthentic behaviour a mile away, the same way they get a certain vibe when someone is lying. Even if you’re a grouch, that’s fine. Everyone loved Oscar on Sesame Street and the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.
Your brand isn’t simply a logo and it isn’t something you can copy from someone else and it isn’t something you can get a marketing company to develop for you. When businesses take this approach to branding, there’s a disconnect—an absence of buy-in—from employees and customers. That’s because your audience will see right through it; they’ll know it’s not who you really are.
Authentic branding brings the personality of your business to life through the use of appropriate messages and images in all your internal and external communications and marketing efforts. But it’s only truly powerful when it’s an honest reflection of your business.
Honest branding effectively tells people what the business is trying to do, why it’s doing it, and how it’s doing it. It allows you to attract the people who will become loyal customers and want to tell everyone they know how great your business is.
Honest branding—authentic branding—makes your business irresistible, and it’s how you can make your business look—on your website and in your marketing material—as awesome as it really is.