In Part 1 of this series, we talked about why the Gen Z and millennial consumer group has led the call for authenticity in brand communications, on behalf of us all. In Part 2, we’re going to look at what this actually means in terms of how you communicate with your customers. You know you need to show authenticity, but how? Where? When?
And, what will happen if you don’t?
Regardless of their generation, it’s clear that customers now prefer brand integrity to brand mythology. But how does showing your authenticity and integrity translate to the success of your brand? How do customers who appreciate you as a brand convert to customers who purchase from you?
How do brands still get people to pick up what they’re putting down without selling, spruiking or showboating?
So many questions! One tidy little answer:
Refer to your handy brand and communication strategy, of course…
Communicating your brand and engaging with your audience authentically should be a major component of your brand and communication strategy. We already ranted about why you need one of those, so we won’t go on about that again. Suffice it to say, a good brand and communication strategy will have a breakdown of your customer metrics (who they are and where you can speak to them) and comprehensive guidance about how you can best communicate with them, in terms of content, tone of voice, responsiveness, and marketing activity. For your part, all you need to do is show up as your real selves, and commit to operating with backbone over bravado.
Because we’re more educated in marketing tactics as consumers, marketing tactics have had to evolve. That’s not a bad thing. But, it means that brands have to work harder and forge a genuine connection with their customer base instead of relying on them to be seduced by spin, sugar-coating and flattering lighting. To the Gen Z demographic particularly, that stuff is irrelevant. Gen Z consumers seek relatability, and for brands who can achieve this, the ROI is impressive.
Here’s some more tips about communicating authentically as a brand:
Own your mistakes
When you make a mistake, ‘fess up and apologise sincerely and succinctly. Don’t point fingers, shirk responsibility, or hide behind a shield of positive PR jazz hands until it all blows over. Being authentic means being human, and humans make mistakes. For some clever companies (see KFC and PWC) a good apology can actually boost their brand power and become a win. Catfishing your own customers never ends well.
Be honest about who you are
In case you haven’t heard, the cool kids are the ones who are just themselves. Being honest gives you credibility, credibility means trust and trust = sales. You don’t need to become like your customer to appeal to your customer. Instead, you need to present your own identity with quiet confidence and consistency. Otherwise, you could end up featured on this unfortunate Twitter account or this savagely accurate subreddit…
Seek conversation, not a soapbox
Part of being authentic is being willing to engage in actual conversations with your customers. You know, like actual people do. Social media is an extension of customer service, so providing valuable information, responding to comments, acknowledging positive and negative feedback, taking complaints seriously, and meeting your customer in whatever space they’re in with openness and honesty is imperative. Talk to, not at. Here’s some good examples.
Another feature of authenticity is giving your customer behind-the-scenes, real-life glimpses into the internal workings of your brand. Smoke and mirrors are out. Photos of the actual people who made your clothes are in, like these recent Instagram shots from Melbourne-based ethical fashion and accessories brand, Elk. Whether it’s in your human resources, supply chain or manufacturing processes, customers want to know they can get behind you in every way. Transparency reassures them.
Stay true to your values
While customers will reward authenticity, they’re also quick to jump ship and abandon a brand if they believe their commitment to the values they’ve espoused has slipped. Stay consistent, synchronise your brand messaging across platforms and make sure you can stand up to scrutiny. Consumers appreciate brands that are steadfast, and you can see this appreciation in their sales figures. Patagonia is an excellent case in point.
To sum it all up, brands who are authentic are rewarded for it. These rewards come in the form of customer loyalty and advocacy, and in the form of profit. Put simply, as a brand you must tell a story about who (and why) you are, and it needs to be a good one. We’ll be talking more about this in an upcoming blog, but the takeaway for now is: Make your story a true one. Your story gives your customers a way to connect with you, and this connection ultimately inspires their purchasing behaviour. To be a brand with longevity, a brand who can speak to Gen Z consumers and also resonate with those outside this demographic, authenticity isn’t just an ideal – it’s essential.
Need help to make your brand story a bestselling page-turner? Pepebucks can help. Call 0411 755 895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.