Marketing News: Do digital-savvy customers have a nose for authentic brands?
Do digital-savvy customers have a nose for authentic brands?
Authenticity is everything to consumers when it comes to brand marketing, which is significant as people aren’t always entirely honest themselves, especially online. Indeed, a recent report by Ofcom found that just 61% say the photos and videos they post accurately represent themselves. Furthermore, 27% admit that they try to make their life appear more interesting than it actually is on social media. Curiously, this seems to be more true among women than men, with 32% of females admitting to trying to look more interesting on social media, compared with 21% of males. Similarly, only 58% of women said their selfies and posts accurately represent them, compared with 63% of men.

Since many consumers are happy to embellish the facts online, it’s perhaps not too surprising that people are good at spotting when brands aren’t being entirely authentic. After all, they know a few tricks as they possibly use them themselves! According to Ofcom’s figures, published in the watchdog’s Communications Market Report, nearly 1 in 5 believe it is easy to recognise if an online image or video is real or truthful. Young people in particular seem to be able to spot the authenticity behind a piece of online content – a reflection perhaps of just how digital-savvy 18 to 34-year-olds have become.

So what does this mean for brands? In short, it means they can’t afford to misrepresent or embellish facts if they are to secure and maintain the trust of their target audience. And this is even more important if they’re using digital platforms to reach younger people.

What makes an authentic brand?
According to a global study by Cohn & Wolfe, 63% of consumers would buy from a company if they deem it to be more authentic than their competitor. But for brands to act upon this in a meaningful way, we need to define exactly what authenticity means.

Research by agency Firefish states that authentic brands are able to be:

  • Genuine
  • Original
  • Unique
  • Expert
  • Visionary
  • Passionate
  • Honest

Finally, it states that they must show integrity. In other words, everything they say must be grounded in truth and accurately reflect what the brand really cares about. Otherwise, claims made in marketing material can ring hollow to savvy customers.

Authentic brands will also be happy to engage directly with their audience. Find out what is being said about you on social media and take part in the discussion, as this shows you’re willing to put yourself out there for scrutiny. Monitoring social media conversations also helps you identify whether there’s a gap between how you perceive yourself and how you are viewed by your target market. Taking on board what people are saying and using it to inform your future marketing efforts could be vital in building a strong and authentic brand.

Be consistent with your brand story
Your brand purpose is fundamental to what you do, but to truly be seen as authentic, you need to be able to tell a story saying what you care about and why it matters to you. This must be consistently applied across all marketing collateral, from Facebook posts and radio ads to promotional t-shirts and in-store display banners. By being consistent people are more likely to buy into your message and trust you mean what you say.

The fact that young people are increasingly recognising signs of inauthenticity online suggests this issue isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Indeed, the emphasis among marketers on showing honesty, integrity and passion only looks set to grow and could be key to securing a competitive advantage over rival brands.


Sources / Further Reading
Communications Market Report Ofcom
How to be an authentic brand Marketing Week
Authentic Brands 2014 Study Cohn & Wolfe