Brand Authenticity - Let’s Be Honest


Brand Authenticity - Let’s Be Honest

By Natalia Ashton-Togher

By now you’ve probably heard people talking about ‘Authentic content’ or how a brand is ‘Authentic’, but what does it actually mean? Why is it suddenly so important? How do we differentiate between who is being authentic and who isn’t?

The best place to start is to define what it means. Authenticity is really a philosophical concept around how your values shape the way you live - Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures.

If we start here we can see how this can be applied to brands, and their individual content. Does a company operate based upon a set of values? And more importantly is it happy to turn away from profit if it would mean compromising these values. The strongest brands are built up from the company values, they are reflected in everything they do and every piece of their communication.

So if a brand is true to their values and believes in what they do it is easy to create authentic content, because it is just being honest. A great example of this is Dominos Instagram account, take a look - its not exactly pretty but it is honest. There are some real food photography faux pars in there, pools of lukewarm buffalo sauce and using a flash to photograph a pizza.  Not a professional photographer or stylist in sight.

However unappealing this might look at first glance however if you start to look at their competitors feeds you can easily see why this honesty first approach is setting them apart with notably more likes on each post. Take a look at pizza huts feed and you’ll be treated to dog in a branded hat, unrealistically happy people sampling their unrealistic takeaway pizza or just a straight up, perfectly shot advert. People are engaging more with dominos because it is honest, they can relate to these images and they know that because there isn’t any photoshop editing the brand is proud of what they produce. When the customer has so much choice available to them why would they believe your product is worth their money if you don’t even believe in it?

This starts to explain why authenticity is becoming more and more important, at a time where customers have access to so much information and choice surely the easiest way to stand out is to be honest.

And when its comes to being a creative I think that the best work you will produce is when you believe in what you are doing. If a client has honest values and believes in what they are doing they will always convince you of what they are trying to do and then you will always try that little bit harder to do something that will make a difference for them.

It comes back to a basic truth of advertising -
the truth well told.

I’ll leave you with another example of how authenticity can drive a project. Cycling apparel company Rapha asked photographer Laura Austin to not only shoot their Women’s 100 event, but to also ride in it… documenting her experience for an Instagram takeover. They believe in the joy of cycling and knew that the photos of someone taking part, going through the experience, would resonate with people far more than photos from a van alongside the cyclists.

They wanted to share the truth of what a ride like this was like, how a cyclist looks at a Journey. How it becomes a playground, with every road and hill becoming an obstacle to overcome.

On her blog post about the shoot, Austin said “I’m hooked. Since the ride, at least a few times a week I wake up early and start my day off with a bike ride”. It just goes to show that if you believe in what you are doing you will convince the creative involved - and once they are convinced, they will do everything they can to make work that will communicate what they now believe in.