Thursday, December 8

An "Authentic" Brand

No offense to any brand manager, CMO, or company President ... especially those who are my clients.  But I was in a planning session yesterday, and the most overused branding word of the moment kept coming up over and over again:  Authentic.  If only I had a dollar for every time "authentic" comes up in a branding discussion.  It's definitely the word du jour.  It seems that every brand wants to say that it's authentic.

I actually understand why.  Consumer distrust since the economic fall out after 9/11 and the endless subsequent "scandals" has left people doubting what companies and brands say.  Consumer skepticism of brands remains at an all time sustained high, and brands are trying desperately to overcome it.  So every brand under the sun is claiming to be "authentic" or "real" or "trustworthy".  It makes it hard for the ones that really are.

Hence my frustration.  Here we were brainstorming marketing platforms for a brand that really and truly is "authentic" (in virtually every sense of the word) and we can't use the word.  It's losing its uniqueness for sure, but also it's believability, credibility, and well, authenticity.  It's almost like saying you're "authentic" means that you're not.  Like having to say you are "cool" really means that you're trying too hard and therefore are far from it.

It's a bummer because consumers really are searching for the truth-tellers and the ones who "say what they mean, mean what they say" and do things consistently well.  I guess we can't talk about it, we just have to do it.  Hopefully consumers will see that and it'll motivate them.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect


  1. You've hit on it exactly, Jim: "...we just have to do it."

    Authenticity isn't a claim. It's an experience.

    It's easy to spend money to claim authenticity. It's incredibly long and tedious to demonstrate day-in-day out that your brand is consistent in acting on what it claims.

    That's why they write books on the importance of experience! : )

  2. A man after my own heart! Thanks Mike! Jim.