With the rise of fake news and misinformation, people have come to crave honesty and authenticity from the brands they support. And frankly, it’s only logical — as our customer experiences become more virtual, we hunger for something more genuine.
And don’t be misled. In an era of post-truth, your customers are informed, socially aware, and most importantly, empowered. Gone are the days of assuming consumers simply click on the first link, or brand they recognize and choose the cheapest option. People care about who you are as a brand, and are not afraid to openly question brands who appear disingenuous.
A social battle of truth has led to brands needing to be more transparent and honest if they want to stand out from competitors. What’s more, you need to combine authenticity with truth, because your customers want their experience to match the product or service you provide. Consumers want to feel that the brand they support celebrates who they are as individuals: that they share the same values; understand their goals; and help them grow into the person they want to be.
It has never been more important to adopt a customer-centric approach to how you do business. And as authenticity and truth become increasingly desired brand qualities, how well does your brand respond?
So, What Really is Truth and Authenticity?
First of all, it’s important to underscore the difference between authenticity and truth.
The post-truth era has ushered in a new plurality of truths — such as personal truth (“your truth” or “my truth”) or perceived truth. But in branding you want to establish objective truth. It should be singular and concrete, and an anchor for your business. Objective truth unites your brand with your customers, as it’s shared by all and negates bias.
But authenticity is about being true to your brand identity — who you are, what you do, and the customers you serve. It’s also the willingness your brand has to be held accountable for the way your messaging affects your customers. Although authenticity is considered an overused, marketing buzzword, 86 percent of consumers say that authenticity is an essential factor in deciding what brands they like and support. So, it’s something all marketers should be thinking about.
To be authentic you have to reflect your brand’s unique identity, voice, and values, so authenticity varies brand to brand. However, this means that brands can be authentically discriminatory in their messaging — and that’s why you have to combine authenticity with truth.
Being authentic and truthful in your marketing makes you accountable. In turn, this can have numerous benefits for your business. A company that values truth and transparency will attract talented employees who aren’t afraid to share their ideas. This leads to a more collaborative and inclusive work environment because your employees are able to be their authentic selves at work.
But Why is it Important for Marketing?
Good marketing practice brings together authenticity and truth: like when you deliver your brand’s truth consistently, across all customer touchpoints. That makes your brand authentic. And considering that 35 percent of internet users now block ads, marketing with truth and authenticity is one of the main ways to appeal to your target audience.
What’s more, people are buying based on trust: 81 percent of consumers said they needed to trust a brand before buying from them. So, as truth becomes harder to find in a post-truth era, embracing it becomes an advantage. Marketing with authenticity and truth can not only improve your brand’s perception, but also its sales.
Here are some of the other ways marketing with authenticity and truth can help your brand:
- Elevates your business above competition
- Builds your brand image to be credible and reliable
- Gives substance to your business and products
- Allows people to relate to your business – helps them to understand what you offer
- Encourages engagement and can turn customers into advocates
There’s a lot to gain from embedding authenticity and truth into your marketing values. But ultimately, it’s hard work and something you have to continually work toward.
It’s well known that consumers pass through three stages on the path to developing brand loyalty: to know, to like, and to trust the brand. The last stage is the most difficult to cultivate. You need a clearly defined brand voice and content marketing strategy aligned across all customer touchpoints, to ensure consistent, and reliable communication with your audience. In 2020, your audience isn’t afraid to scrutinize your brand and “call you out” if they feel it necessary, so consistency is vital.
But how can you strategize to embrace authenticity and truth in your brand? We’ve got you covered! Here’s our ultimate checklist for how to embed authenticity and truth into your marketing strategy:
Cover the Basics
As a company, clearly outline who you are, what you do, and what your values are — this usually manifests itself in your company’s Mission-Vision-Values (MVV) framework. Make sure to consult with your staff so that your MVV truly reflects your company’s identity and personality. And then use your MVV as a guide for how you conduct business! This is the foundation of your brand’s personality, so be honest and use this opportunity to be authentic.
Define Your Brand Voice
One thing’s for certain, you need a clearly defined brand voice! This means thoroughly outlining your content standards, including terminology, style, and tone of voice, and then systematically implementing them across your enterprise. Your brand voice expresses your company’s personality — it aligns your identity with your communication.
A Sproutsocial study found that the most sought after brand characteristic, by customers, was honesty. A consistent brand voice prevents mixed messaging and the lack of trust associated with it. It also offers your audience an authentic way to understand your company’s personality, giving them even more reason to trust you. When you apply your brand voice across all your customer touchpoints, from support articles to content marketing, your customers will have parallel experiences and see you as reliable and trustworthy.
It’s vital you maintain your brand voice. Inconsistent, mixed-messages lead to confusion, suspicion, or worse, mistrust. Many large enterprises have multiple content writing teams spread globally, so it can be difficult to maintain a consistent brand voice. So make sure you aren’t limited by traditional approaches to content governance, and consider a modern technology-driven approach to implementing your content strategy that can help centralize and align your messaging.
What’s more? Lucidpress found that consistent representation of a brand can increase revenue by 33 percent! So once you have a brand voice, make sure to roll it out consistently across the enterprise and all content ecosystems. One of Acrolinx’s customers, Google, is a great example of this. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful for its users — and that’s reflected in their brand voice. It’s bold, direct, and concise. Google also emphasizes their focus to be accessible wherever their users encounter them, and be consistent across all platforms.
Write With Emotion
In a post-truth era, writing with emotion is becoming increasingly important. Emotion is one of the primary elements for how we assign meaning, especially when the truth is becoming more difficult to decipher. As emotionality and trust become the qualities customers desire, we wrote a blog post to help you use emotion to write with purpose, to make your content more effective by mapping it to the right emotions.
This also means producing engaging content for your customers, to show the authenticity of your brand. More than 57 percent of consumers think that less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic, so engaging your customers on an emotive level is important. Communicating to your customers with empathy can reflect the authenticity of your brand and improve the experience of your customers. Consider using an emotional analysis tool to make sure you’re not (unnecessarily) evoking fear or anger as a reaction from your target audience.
Adopt a Customer-Centric Approach
Are you actively collecting metrics on the performance of your content and marketing operations? Considering that PwC found in 2018 that 73 percent of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their buying decisions, it’s vital to adopt an audience-centric approach to marketing. Be sensitive to your audience’s preferences and desires in the way they like to consume content, and the tone of voice they connect to. You do this by collecting performance metrics and using them to inform business decisions.
One of the most popular trends of the post-truth era is a preference for brands to be more transparent. 66 percent of consumers think that transparency is one of the most attractive qualities of a brand, so be open about the products or services you provide and develop messaging about how they’re made. It’s also essential that any legal information is clear and easy to read. Pull back the curtains and demonstrate the quality of transparency that customers crave!
Be Reliable and Produce Legally Compliant Content
Bonus Top Tip
Although not strictly related to marketing, as an enterprise you should consider giving back to your local community or an organization that corresponds to the values of your company. According to a study conducted by Forbes and Elite Daily in 2015, 75 percent of Millennials say it’s “fairly” or “very” important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. This means doing more than a token donation once a year, but genuinely championing a cause. And in the process you’ll earn respect from your customers.
Marketing in a Post-Truth Era
Marketing with authenticity and truth is here to stay.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to marketing with authenticity and truth. But when done correctly your brand can establish relevance through your content and action, and form bonds with your customers! Authenticity is essential to growing your business and an enterprise content improvement platform can help you achieve the trustworthy and authentic brand voice your customers crave.
By using a modern, AI-powered approach to content improvement, marketing with authenticity and truth becomes an opportunity to improve your customer experience. It’s easy to achieve a consistent uniformity of style, tone, and attitude when you apply a content improvement solution.
And it also makes it much easier to implement brand voice on a local or regional scale. Content creators save time in aligning content to your guidelines and it’s simple to onboard new writers, without losing your authentic brand voice! It also protects your company from the repercussions of wrong or non-compliant content. It reduces, or even eliminates, the legal risk associated with content. And the addition of emotional analysis tools can make sure that your content is evoking the kind of emotions you want.
How Acrolinx Can Help!
The bottom line is that maintaining authenticity and truth in marketing is a lot of work, so using a modern technology-driven solution really lightens the load. Not only does it protect your rebrand from the repercussions of poorly crafted content, but it allows you to make the changes you need to make your brand more trustworthy and authentic, and Acrolinx is here to help.
Acrolinx learns how your enterprise writes and captures your content standards and brand voice — to make them actionable across the content workflow. Automation carries the burden of time-consuming editing for quality control, and integrates into the content workflow to deliver automatic alignment. This delivers brand consistency and increases your content efficiency, so you can do more with your budget! The Acrolinx Sidebar gives your writers and editors immediate feedback on the clarity and style of their writing, making sure it’s aligned to your brand guidelines. This means large teams, with different language skills and across different locations, can be guided to meet your content goals.
Acrolinx gives you the power to manage all terminology usage throughout your enterprise; you can set up your preferred product names and legal terminology or highlight those to avoid. This automated integration of governance into the content creation process results in consistent and compliant content — all in a way that delights your target audience.
Recently, Acrolinx has developed Emolinx, an app that analyzes the emotional qualities of your content. So you can see how well your text aligns with your intended audience response!
Get ready for consistent and compliant content with automation and enterprise-wide content improvement — it’s Better Content. Faster. To learn more about how Acrolinx can help, let’s talk.