‘Cool’ is a je ne sais quoi characteristic of a brand. It’s nebulous and hard to explain or pinpoint. ‘Cool’ simply is. So, it makes sense, then, that many brands might confuse ‘cool’ with what’s working for them or other successful brands out there. We’ve found that authenticity is not only more enduring than coolness, it’s actually what this generation of consumers is hungry for. We’ve found that authenticity is what’s actually working — cool factor is often just cosmetic. And yes, you can have both. Read on for what we’ve learned.
Why “Why” Matters
We love a good story. We are hungry for connection and intimacy. That’s why “why” is the most important piece to any story (not the ‘“what,” not even the “how”). Most leaders and companies start from the outside — the “what.” They champion their product. But in a crowded, noisy marketplace, it’s the “why” that makes all the difference. “Why” speaks to purpose, cause, belief, and motivation. It’s why you get out of bed in the morning. It’s why you’re inspired by what you do. It’s why you’re utterly unique and unmistakably special. Having loyal customers and building a community comes down to reaching out to the people who share your fundamental beliefs — who also believe in your “why.”
Daniel Alvarez — unsplash.com
- On a scale of 1–5, millennials rank the trustworthiness of advertising and sales at a dismal 2.2. 84% of millennials say they don’t like advertising.
- 91% of customers value honesty in the companies from which they buy products and services.
- 63% of customers choose authentic brands over those that aren’t as transparent.
Authenticity Is Real
Coolness can be a pose, a gesture responding to trends. Authentic purpose and story is something we feel. Being cool is great, but it can often be surface-level. And it doesn’t get much worse than faking it. Of course, fabrication or misappropriation of purpose is just as bad.
Okay, But How?
Simple: Rather than claim authenticity, simply be authentic. Ditch “authenticity” as a brand descriptor and instead make it a part of your story, from the ground up. The reason for this is simple: authenticity is not a buzzword, but rather a byproduct of a greater interest in purpose and story. It’s something that is felt on an intuitive level.
Sergio Alejandro — unsplash.com
This is not marketing. This is tapping into, unearthing, honing the truth of your brand’s mission and beliefs. Though people tend to believe that smaller businesses are more authentic than larger businesses, you don’t need to be a start-up to be authentic. Instead, be honest and candid. Rather than hyper-curate the conversation (or worse, disguise the truth), allow everyday people to communicate their love for — or even their frustration with — what you do. Accept criticism with grace and a sense of humor. Respond productively with self-awareness and an enthusiasm to continue evolving.
ASPIRE TO INSPIRE
-IN GOOD CO