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Brand authenticity vs consistency…putting the emPHAsis on the wrong syllable

May 17, 2019 | Posted in: Articles & News, Branding, Marketing pow wow
Brand consistency and authenticity_sunflowers

Reflecting on all the talk about brand authenticity…if you think about ‘authenticity’ according to your personal experiences and social interactions…you know that it can be a roller coaster. How someone thinks and behaves is subject to basic things like ‘having a bad day’ or being under pressure from deadlines. Authenticity in this context is allowing others to see this ebb and flow and letting them know that life is not just a bed of roses. It can be far from ‘consistent’ – the same trigger may cause different reactions depending on all sorts of circumstances, including ‘what went before’. To sweep things under the carpet and pretend everything is fine might be considered inauthentic.

So, in a business context – what is it that customers really want from you? I would say consistency is key – something reliable that consumers can base their decisions on. Regardless of whether the owner or staff got out of the wrong side of the bed that day, customers want to know that they can turn up to that café, that branch, that office or get a response from online customer service that is a consistent experience – (good or bad). That’s how some of the most famous brands got a name for themselves.

Take McDonalds for example – you can show up at any of their restaurants in the world and despite their local flavour injected into special menu items, you can still find so much that is familiar. I cannot tell you how comforting it was to have a ‘little piece of familiarity’ from the odd trip to Micky D’s when I was first in living in Tokyo in the 1990s when the soy sauce ‘salty-ness’ of Japanese food 7 days a week got a bit much. Starbucks, Subway, Wendys – whether you like their offering or not, at least you know what you are in for.

So, what do these consistent brands have in common? A robust network of business practices that protect that consistency. Training, inductions, procedures, policies, audits, mystery shoppers, customer commitments – a lot of these are created off the back of a clear vision, mission and values. So where is their authenticity? It is in their honouring of the vision, mission and values that are clearly understood and bought into by their employees. It lives and breathes through their culture as a consistent pulse that ensures that every customer experience delivers on their promise, every time, without fail. Full stop.

What is the ‘take out’ from this short reflection on authenticity for your brand?
Think about the consistency in your authenticity. Are you saying one thing and doing another? Are some employees not on the same ship? Make sure your version of authenticity means to be clear on what your stand for and fiercely stand by your vision, mission and values to make the customer experience consistent. Take a look at what Seth Godin says on this topic.

If you need some help putting the measures into place to deliver that consistency or even help in defining what your vision, mission and values mean for your marketing and the direction it needs to take, get in touch.


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