Can authenticity be created? Or is it just innate?

The purpose of advertising is to create awareness and trial.  It’s harder today that its ever been to get your brand, your business, your idea noticed.

In the not too distant past, there was a viral sensation every few months.  Ice Bucket Challenge anyone?  Can’t tell you how many planning meetings I have participated in where a brand wanted to create something viral.  Once marketers got hold of the idea of ‘viral’ it died by definition.   Viral by its nature is something unique that everyone wants to experience.  If everyone has it or is using it, it’s no longer unique.   Once again, marketers have jumped on the bandwagon to effectively kill a concept.

Let’s build an app.   We should be on Snapchat.

Come on!  Maybe.  But where’s the strategy?

So what’s the answer? What’s the antidote to this never-ending merry-go-round of marketing fads?   The traditional marketing answer would be to be different.  To have a product or service that differentiated itself from the pack.  But we’re on an accelerated path where products and services are concerned.  We copy, marginalize and mainstream everything.  Yesterday.  Holding a competitive advantage is rare and often indefensible.

In reality, product and services are commodities today.  What people want are experiences.   Authentic. True. Interesting.  Memorable experiences.

OK  great.  Let’s do THAT then.

But guess what?  Not every brand can pull that off.  In fact nothing is more difficult than trying to be authentic … if you’re not.   Yes, you’ve got to be different.  But different isn’t authentic. You’ve got to be different, and you’ve got to be honest and true to your brand.

Everywhere you look there is a wannabe that wants to be just what everyone else wants to be.  Society is afraid of taking a chance…being too far from what is today’s center. Playing it safe because the perception is that there is safety where everyone else is.

That safety is a mirage.  Hertz.  We’re #1.  We don’t need to think differently.  Think Hertz even contemplated Uber throwing shade on their stock price?

What if Facebook had taken a chance on temporary IM?  What if Starbucks saw the calendar turn to October with a Morrocan Orange Blossom latte instead of the PSL tripe.  What if Leonard Cohen didn’t die in relative obscurity while Carley Rae Jepson is known for what?  We’re too afraid to take chances to further our brands.  The short-term thinking accountants won’t allow it.

Which is why disruption comes from the challenger brands.  They have to take chances. Change for the incumbent is hard and it’s risky for sure.  But a brand not willing to evolve will find its customers bored and frustrated.  And its competition outflanking them.

It’s what Luna did to Empire.  Go to market more efficiently.  Treat your customers with a better experience.  Flooring is a commodity.  This little blip on the flooring radar spent one fourth of the big dog while suddenly being 30% larger …. in said big dog’s own market.

Society is overloaded by choices.  Yankelovich suggests we’re hit with more than five thousand commercial messages per day.  Jeez!  What do we focus on?

Brands offering positive and authentic experience are breaking through and winning our hearts and minds.  They’re offering singular experiences that a just a little bit better.  Or at least make the consumers’ lives just a little bit better.

So the answer to effective marketing is to take hard look within to understand exactly what your brands authentic self is and why anyone should care.  Once you figure that out the strategy of communicating that authenticity will show itself easily.

You can’t create a unicorn but your brand can simply be the best self that it can.

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