Authenticity is one of the most valuable attributes a brand needs in our connected world. With the super-connected lives we live, consumers from an ever younger age are learning how brands can keep their promises, or how they can massively under-deliver.
The jury is swift, and its verdict merciless. Authenticity is your only saving grace.
Consumers have the power to dent a brand’s reputation, which can in turn lead to a ‘slow puncture’ of that brand’s equity. While much focus has been on a brand creating an audience and becoming a medium – two words, Red Bull – not much focus has been put on to consumers that are also becoming brands. Just think of Hello Peter.
Too often marketing is a function that is either ‘outsourced’ to an external supplier that is not incentivised based on the KPIs of the marketing department, leadership or business imperative. Their incentive comes from a monthly retainer fee or from a commission cheque based on the work produced or media that is flighted.
On the other hand, there are of course those companies that have chosen to ‘insource’ the marketing function but this option too holds some pitfalls. If the leadership does not buy into the role of marketing in the organisation, then it will have little if no effectiveness in moving the brand equity or sales numbers.
Marketing is simultaneously an art and a science.
In media there is this ‘performance’ theme that is brewing which in turn is driving more spending towards digital media channels. I agree that this is the right conversation to be having, so that there is a realignment of the media ‘share of time’ with ‘share of voice’ much like there was an ‘above the line an below the line themes in advertising-land in the 2000’s.
The bottom-line is: ‘A Brand is a Brand is a Brand, and will always be a Brand.’ Much like people buy from people they like, people buy brands they can associate with.
One of the most efficient ways to gauge whether a campaign resonates with the intended audience is to assess if there is a match or a correlation between the values of the audience, the brand and the ‘media’. In this scenario, ‘media’ could also be a friend’s referral, which has a strong value match to you as the audience. This is why brand referrals are seen as a marketer’s Holy Grail.
In a more competitive world, brands are transcending categories and there is mass commoditisation, where brands are building their own media platforms.
Marketing becomes a key differentiator for an organisation to be the leader in its industry. Less than 10 years ago, the marketing landscape looked very different. Brands that had the biggest budgets won… period. Now smaller brands are competing on an equal footing as these bigger brands and in fact have a huge competitive advantage over them by being more nimble and able to adapt to change quickly. They are less risk adverse and more willing.
This means marketers by nature need to change to reflect this changing landscape. Furthermore, the composition of marketing budgets also need to change to reflect this.
In closing, I ask my question again: Is your brand really authentic?
Join me online and let’s continue the conversation. Will Green is CEO of Apurimac Media. You can tweet him @WillJNGreen.
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