With regard to branding, Authenticity is dead. And as the branders, marketers and creatives, we’re to blame.
Okay, maybe it didn’t die…but it’s at least on life support.
So what happened? We all strive to bring authenticity to our work and our brands. And further, we all know that being authentic is what fundamentally shapes the approach to our brands (or at least should). So again I ask, how did we get here?
One word: buzz. We stopped trying to do the hard work – or at least the honest work – of really figuring out what the heart of our brands are. And we allowed ourselves to say we’re being authentic without any effort to back the assertion up.
Think about it… how many times have we sat in rooms where a series of buzz words will be said in rapid succession, only for the summation being something along the lines of “this is what keeps us authentic to our brand”? If the best way to describe the unique, only-you offering of our brands is to use buzz words, then we’re merely talking in sales-speak. It’s not true. It’s not honest. It’s not authentic.
Make no mistake, figuring out how to be authentic is the hardest part of being a brander. Today’s world is so accessible that it’s easy to see something you like, and try to assimilate it. Or to skip the articulation of your brand, in favor of generic words that may resonate socially within the field.
We do this because we don’t want to make the effort to put things into our own voice. And because its easier to say it “feels” connected than come up with something truly original. But make no mistake, that is no better than theft. And worse, it dilutes the brand to being nothing more than a patchwork quilt of other, potentially though not always, more thought out brands. And worst of all, this could end up guiding important decisions our brands make.
Maybe you can fool your boss. Maybe you can fool your peers. Maybe you can get away with it on the short term. But your audience will always call you to the carpet. They know what your are or are not. And they are the final jury.
It’s time to stop buzzing about being authentic, and to start figuring out what that means uniquely to our brands. Looking in the mirror is terrifying…but only then will you truly elevate your brand beyond the crap.