Authentic Communication

Authenticity has always been a cornerstone of brand development, and it’s only going to get more important. There’s a reason your customers like your brand. But that reason is not how you beat your competition — it is how you attract more customers away from your competition. Semantics? Not at all.

Target didn’t beat Walmart on price. Apple didn’t out-spec Microsoft. RedBull didn’t edge out Mountain Dew. These brands didn’t seek to find an unmet need. They uncovered and clarified the need they were already meeting. They — with their agencies’ support — built and continue to build compelling stories to attract more customers who have that need.

These brands don’t compete with their competition — they compete for the customer. They do so by communicating with the customer in a language that is unique to their brand — their verbal identity. The verbal identity encompasses everything from product names to the language used by the customer service team. Have you ever hit a 404 redirect page on a website that made you smile? If so, I’m willing to bet that it was authentically on-brand, and that’s why you appreciated it.

It’s not just what you say — it’s how you say it.

It’s not just what you do — it’s how you do it.

And what you say and what you do need to agree. That is authenticity.

A strong brand must be consistent; basically, all of an individual’s interactions with a brand across all touchpoints will effectively add up to “the brand” in the mind of that customer. The more consistent the experience, the stronger the brand. Multiply that across ALL individuals and ALL possible touchpoints, and it’s easy to see how hard it might be to achieve consistency and develop a strong brand. This is where authenticity comes in: a consistent brand voice is far easier to maintain when it’s truly authentic to the brand. There’s just no faking it — especially not at scale, and especially not in the current digital-first environment. Inconsistent or inauthentic actions or comments can spread like wildfire and quickly erode your brand-building efforts.

Ok, so the next question… how do you find that authentic voice? So glad you asked.

It’s really up to you. It takes some soul searching and some strategy. Agencies or marketing professionals can definitely help, but they’re mainly just leveraging their expertise to ask the right questions. Sometimes they’ll take it a step further to help you articulate and clarify what you know to be true in order to help you share it with others — people on your team, your customers, or the world at large. Once your verbal identity is well-defined, assuming it’s authentically on-brand, everything else becomes easier. You know what your brand would say or how your brand would react to a comment or situation, just as you might know how your significant other might speak or act. And your customers do, too. They know what to expect of you — and they’ll call you out, if you misstep. That’s a good thing. It means they care. Because you made them care, authentically. Congratulations.

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Liz Heinberg

Liz Heinberg

creating a better future for contractors & clients @; naming companies & products @

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