Are You an Authentic Brand with Your Content?
Trust is at the core of the relationship between businesses and customers. However, as of 2018, the world is facing a trust crisis. The average person is likely to have feelings of uncertainty or skepticism towards media, governments, and businesses. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 42% of global respondents don’t know which companies or brands to trust. In these uncertain times, it is more critical than ever for a brand to exude authenticity through its content.
Having an authentic brand means that your company is open and transparent about its values, practices, and challenges. Brand authenticity is important because it drives brand choice and sales.
This is why you should take a look at your content efforts and see if you are making it easy for your audience to trust you. In this article, we’ll take a look at some content marketing tips that will help convey the authenticity of your brand in a clear way.
Are Your Core Values Well Defined?
What do you stand for? Can you explain in simple terms your mission and the values at the heart of your branding message? Are your values coherent with what you sell?
To give you an idea about values that, in recent years, are often perceived to be important, think of all discussions around protecting the privacy of customer data, environmental impact, and working conditions in the developing world.
Do not explicitly choose authenticity as one of your values. That is because you can’t simply say that you are authentic and expect others to believe you; you have to demonstrate it by being transparent and adding value to your audience.
Consumers want more than sales pitches. They want to be educated and entertained in a thoughtful manner. On top of that, they value integrity more than ever and will easily spot shallow attempts of virtue-signaling. Never hop on trending issues that are not aligned with your core values.
Instead, show that you truly understand their needs and craft a powerful story that communicates why you care about them and are working to make their lives better.
Is Your Brand Voice Stiff or Complicated?
Your brand voice reverberates throughout all of your content and plays a major role in how your message is perceived by your audience, thus affecting their response. As such, it’s crucial to determine the right voice and tone that speak best to your audience.
Here is a quick refresher on the difference between voice and tone, two terms often used interchangeably. “Voice” means the overall personality of a brand, while “tone” is an expression of that personality that changes depending on the context (welcoming a first-time customer, responding to an urgent complaint, etc).
So you should take the time to evaluate and, if needed, redefine your brand voice. Is it formal? Playful?
The answer depends on who your audience is and what. Millennials can be more receptive to a humorous and quirky voice, while older generations tend to prefer a more serious character.
Next, put yourself at the same level as your customer. Avoid wording that can be interpreted as condescending. Make your content centered around what makes them tick, what they worry about, and what they want to achieve. Doing this facilitates attention and building trust.
Likewise, it can pay off to drop some of the “corporate-speak” that may come off as too calculated to ring true, and instead create authentic content that uses simple words, feels spontaneous, and acknowledges what the target audience might think. A conversational tone is a common content marketing tip for good reason; it breaks the ice and creates a connection.
Regardless of which brand voice works best for you, it should always be honest and empathetic. Show that you understand the concerns of your customers and how they feel. Authentic content reads less like a dry script and more like a human-to-human dialogue. Obviously, your blog posts and videos should reflect that voice, but remember that small, short interactions like replies to comments and customer service calls should implement it as well.
Are You Addressing Your Issues Openly?
Mistakes can happen. Maybe you billed a client more than you should, or the platform that users rely on went down. Dealing with unexpected issues is part of running a business.
Cohn & Wolfe, a global communications agency, conducted a study on authentic brands in 2016 and found that 20% of consumers “would be prepared to put their money on the table and invest in a brand that proves its authenticity”. Donna Imperato, the CEO of the agency, said that “consumers will forgive the occasional corporate misstep if a company is upfront, and addresses the issue head-on.”
You can use a blog post, a video or any suitable piece of content to talk about the problem. Of course, the highest priority should be fixing the mistake as quickly as possible. But as you do that, be sure to communicate about the issue:
- Determine whether you are at fault for the incident – you don’t necessarily need to apologize for something you are not responsible for;
- If you are responsible for the blunder, acknowledge it;
- Explain what caused it and how you are working to fix it;
- Reassure your audience that it won’t happen again (but be ready to keep that promise).
The worst thing you can do is to keep quiet about the issue, hoping that no one will notice. The proverb “bad news travels fast” is truer than ever because of the internet and social media. Take control of the topic before it goes out of hand with angry tweets or comments.
Similarly, you can earn the trust of your audience by addressing the challenges you are currently facing – late deliveries, changes in the market, etc. But whatever the case, always keep a confident tone.
Are You Using Visual Content to Convey Transparency?
Images are strong tools to prove authenticity. Start by using less generic stock photos and more original pictures of your products, employees, and offices. If you produce physical goods, post images of your team making them and your customers owning them. Create blog posts and videos that explain the production and organization processes.
Additionally, content that shows what happens behind the scenes goes a long way to show that you value transparency. For example, in a 2014 survey about the 20 most authentic brands, McDonald’s managed to rise to the seventh rank. That is thanks to its efforts on authenticity, notably after controversies surrounding the quality of the ingredients used. For example, McDonald’s decided to post calorie counts on all in-store menus and shared a video on its “pink slime” that soon became popular.
In 2018 and beyond, authentic content is a crucial part of content marketing. Yes, SEO is as important as ever, and social media must be used to lead conversations with your audience. But a business whose branding is perceived as dull or shady will fail to convert its target customers.
Simply put, authentic branding content means that you say what you mean, and do what you say. Acknowledge your shortcomings and mistakes while showing that you are working to mitigate them. To make the most of authentic branding content, remember that content writers must have a strong understanding of your brand and what you stand for.
If you are not sure how to implement authenticity into your content, our team at Iris Content can help. Our content writers will take your message and craft authentic content that builds trust and increases conversions.
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