How brand authenticity will enhance your customer experience
Some may argue that the success of Donald Trump’s brand illustrates that authenticity and engagement can often beat likeability or ‘spin’ when it comes to brands. This certainly was the case during the US presidential election. His blunt, ‘tell it how it is’ attitude was refreshing for many voters.
78% of consumers don’t think brands are open and honest according to a study by authentic100. This is hardly surprising- consumers are overwhelmed by inauthentic and highly orchestrated communication on a daily basis. This deficit in authenticity presents an excellent opportunity for brands to attract new clients by being authentic.
The difficulty is the trait ‘authentic’ can be tough to pin down. Reliable, respectful and real seems to be the key to being authentic as a brand. We’ll look at how we can implement these into our brand’s comms and marketing strategy in this blog.
Brand Authenticity by Being Reliable:
Delivering on promises
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. As a brand, we should have certain goals, such as our response time for complaints. If we say we will reply within 24 hours, then it’s important to do so. Consumers are more demanding than ever, and delivering on promises is at the very basics of being a reliable brand. Delivering on promises will help us be perceived as a more authentic brand.
Whether we sell coffee or virus software, our product should be consistent and of a high standard. Whilst a budget clothes brand may not be designed to last for years, it should at least survive the first wash. Beyond the product, our customer service approach should also be delivered to high standards. Read our previous blog ‘6 tactics for boosting client experience’ for some tips on how to create a high-quality client experience.
Brand Authenticity by Being Respectful:
Protect customer privacy and data
This is becoming so important. Using our social media monitoring platform, we discovered that in one week (11th may-18th may 2017), there had been over 3,639 Twitter mentions of either ‘privacy and data’ or ‘internet security’. A week doesn’t seem to go by without a data breach dominating the headlines. Understandingly many consumers are concerned about passwords, credit card details and personal information being stolen or sold. The biggest lesson from the recent NHS cyber attack is that updating computers is critical for protecting us from online threats. Check out this article for suggestions on protecting client information and avoid being at the centre of a potential PR crisis.
Brand Authenticity by Being Real:
Create your own unique strategy
We can use media monitoring to track what our competitors are doing online and how their consumers (and our prospects) are reacting to it. So how do we do this exactly? By using a social media monitoring tool we can set up a keyword search with our competitors brand name, and analyse the sentiment and number of responses to their mentions.
It can be tempting to replicate the strategy of competitors, especially if we see that they have an overwhelmingly positive sentiment. Whilst we can take on board what our competitors are doing well and learn from that, we should aim to be original. This doesn’t mean we have to strive to be really quirky or off the wall. Considering what our brand’s unique selling point is can help guide our strategy in the best direction.
Prioritise the needs of your customers
We can’t be real and authentic if we don’t consider the needs of our customers. Whilst there will always be a situation where a customer will be dissatisfied no matter what the result, the key is to always try and come to a resolution for customers. Always consider how you can provide value to your customers whether that’s in your social media strategy, customer service or marketing efforts.
Thinking about how our brand’s origin and how it started can increase the chances of us being seen as genuine and authentic. Is there a special story or idea that led to the creation of the brand? Stories create trust, engagement and differentiate us from others in our industry. Almost all of us know how Apple began, and this story contributes to their success as an authentic brand. Allowing characteristics, inspiration and things that matter to shine through our communication will show the authentic side of our brands.
Take Meltwater for example, whilst we’ve successfully achieved the number one stop in media intelligence, we came from humble beginnings. Rewind back to 2001, two men and a coffee machine had been donated a shack to create what would be Meltwater. Armed with only $15,000 and a big idea, our founder Jorn Lyseggen started putting his idea into action. Meltwater is now a global company with over 24,000 clients and 50 offices spanning 6 continents, but Jorn hasn’t forgot where he came from. Knowing the difficulties many start-ups face, Jorn set up the Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a nonprofit organisation devoted to nurturing future generations of entrepreneurs in Africa.
(Above image) How Meltwater began
Consumers have started to demand to know whether the products they are buying are ethically sourced. Brands such as Lush, who offer vegetarian, environmentally friendly cosmetics have seen huge success from being ethical off the back of this cultural shift. They regularly support animal rights groups and political causes, further helping to support their brand image.
Meltwater’s client Fashion Revolution has seen a huge amount of interest in their ‘#whomademyclothes?’ campaign which encourages people to demand greater transparency when it comes to how fashion brands operate. This also reflects the current importance of ethics in brands. Their 2016 campaign reached 156 million organic impressions (according to our platform) and 1,251 brands engaged responding to the hashtag.
One reason why being ethical demonstrates brand authenticity is that it shows we care about more than just making money and that we see our customers as humans rather than pound signs.
Ditch customer service scripts
Brands tend to have a list of scenarios with standardised responses. Whilst, there is nothing wrong with having response frameworks, it can come across as artificial if not used correctly. Of course, we should have guidelines to responding to queries and complaints, but they’re there to do that – guide us. We should let our tone of voice and brand personality shine through when engaging. Tesco became an online sensation after a number of cheeky replies to people slating their brand’s telecomms arm.
Tip: Keep on top of mentions online that can be brand damaging by using a media monitoring tool. We can search our brand with crisis keywords such as ‘awful’ ‘terrible’ to quickly find complaints. If our brand has a huge following chances are we’re inundated with comments, so searching by reach is a great way to find posts picking up in traction in seconds.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to achieving the elusive ‘authenticity’ in no time.