Talking branding, for us marketers, always sounds weird, as it often means a way of communication more and more rejected by suspicious or cynical consumers. Canâ€™t say theyâ€™re wrong, as marketing and advertising overall are still not trusted as a good source of information.
This is why attending SXSW panel on Â«Â Branding without bullshitÂ Â» proved interesting. On board, 4 guys representing local brands of Austin and their thoughts about the hunt for Â«Â authenticityÂ Â», and how social media could help it (or discover itâ€™s fake !). An hour chatting with Austinâ€™s most beloved brands, Â Alamo Drafthouse, Hotel San Jose, YETI coolers, and McGarrah Jessee, brand advisors to Shiner Beers, Whataburger, Costa sunglasses and Frost Bank
First. Letâ€™s try to define Â«Â authenticityÂ Â».
- Authenticity refers to a real brand or product, so donâ€™t promise something you canâ€™t.
- Â Authenticity = Unicity. Can you apply your strategy/message to another brand ? Then youâ€™re not being authentic
- Your message must be stable too, meaning able not to depend entirely on social media insights – just think how Gap and Starbucks found unable to change their logos
- At last, authenticity is also part of interaction with consumers on social media, through CRM or just conversation. An authentic brand talks, and donâ€™t try to sell at any price its product with fake conversations
How social media can help building an authentic brand ?
- Retracing the history of the brand : it must be able to talk of its founding, its roots, its places, its people, which is much more than its product. Shinerâ€™s beer, a local Austin brand, doubled its sales in 10 years by adopting a storytelling communication around its very first brewery in town and local employees. Facebook Timeline recent changes allows all the more to produce a Â«Â historicÂ Â» content.
- Caution, as customers know when youâ€™re not being authentic. By simply Googling your message, it can check its existence and authenticity
- Draw a line between what your brand is and what consumers do with this. Customers cannot drive your brand, event if it requires much courage not to follow their will.
- Get your whole company into social communication, as it is the only way to make the vision (made by leaders) meet reality (embodied by Â«Â bottomÂ Â» employees daily action)
In a nutshell, your brand should, to prove authentic, has its own strategy and beliefs, not try to fake anything, and invites all its employees to take part in social media