It has inspired social change.
It has helped end wars, bring down political leaders, and raise millions of dollars for worthy causes.
It has been the soundtrack of falling in love and breaking up.
It is part of every life, everywhere, all the time.
Music serves as a wonderful template for brands because it is so meaningful. Who isn’t seeking more meaning in their life?
How can businesses and brands be more meaningful? It starts with authenticity.
The old days of smoke-and-mirrors advertising are long behind us. Social media and lightening-quick digital communication have forever shifted the balance of power in favor of the consumer, making it impossible for brands who lie to us to continue to do business.
Authenticity isn’t easy because it inherently involves admitting imperfection, a horribly uncomfortable proposition for brands who have long marketed themselves as perfect in every way.
By no means an exhaustive list, here are 5 ways you can begin to bring more authenticity to your brand:
1. Honesty - Be scrupulous in all you do. Treat customers with fairness and transparency. Don’t hide behind policies or voice-mail hell. This one shouldn’t be hard, but it seems time and again that it is the toughest step for brands to take.
2. Personality – Steve Jobs of Apple, Herb Kelleher at Southwest, Steve Ells of Chipotle, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, and Howard Schultz at Starbucks are all leaders who personify their respective brands. Who is the face behind your faceless business? Let’s meet her and make her a star we can fall in love with.
3. Tell stories – Since we first painted on the walls of our caves, we have been telling stories. Today’s great brands are stories themselves. The rebirth of Starbucks, the fall of RIM, and the rise of Facebook are all great stories. Business today is full of movie-worthy stories. Share them. James Dyson made his David verus Goliath business story into the cornerstone of a huge brand.
4. Engage us – Meaningful two-way dialogue is so easy today, yet so many brands fail to engage their customers and potential customers. The tools exist to have powerful conversations, solve problems before they happen, and create an incredible customer experience. Use them. And when you do, see point #1 above.
5. Show some humility – Wasn’t it fun, back when we could over-hype everything in our advertising? Not anymore. Stop bragging about how great you are, and start demonstrating the experience your brand facilitates. What great things happen when I use your brand? How do I feel when I use your product? What benefit does your product provide that I can’t get anywhere else.
Five hallmarks of authentic brands: Honesty | Personality | Storytelling | Engaging | Gracious
The book Brand Like a Rock Star includes several chapters about honesty and authenticity in branding. You can pre-order the book from the on-line retailer of your choice here. It would also be very cool to have you join the discussion on Facebook at the Brand Like a Rock Star page.