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UK Insights

Authenticity in digital communications

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Brands 21.11.2017 / 10:00


Is brand authenticity all about tone of voice?

A recent study by Kantar Millward Brown revealed that brands can boost longer-term metrics like brand awareness and recall via social media ads – and being more human could help. Jane Ostler, Managing Director of Media & Digital at Kantar Millward Brown, notes: ‘Our recent analysis conducted with Saїd Business School on brands' own Facebook posts confirms how important it is for brands to lose the marketing-speak. Brands that are 'more human' are a better fit with the social news feed environment – and their advertising also tends to perform well in those channels.’

So what can brands do? To sound like a human being, brands writing on digital (or other) channels must avoid functional chatter and employ more emotional, even colloquial language. Of course, this can’t be done at the expense of the brand; what the brand stands for cannot be ignored so that a few more shoppers click ‘Find out more’ on a humorous or irreverent or tear-inducing advert. In other words, brands must use a voice that is authentic.

We hear so much talk about being ‘authentic’ that it seems there must be simple (or at least, available) rules to follow to become a more authentic brand. In fact, many confuse authenticity with this idea of human language, but this is an unhelpful conflation of ideas.

Laura Hurst, Associate Director at Kantar Added Value, comments: ‘Authenticity has become such a buzzword and I think it’s become confused.  I think brands are starting to think about authenticity as a certain tone of voice, linked to the trend for local, small-batch, provenance etc. – think Jack Daniels, BrewDog, Monmouth Coffee. But that’s not what authenticity is. Authenticity ISN’T a brand positioning, it’s being true to your brand positioning. It’s making sure that the human insight and brand promise are the point of reference across every brand touchpoint.’

‘So a brand could be positioned around the insight that the greatest human motivator is fear. That president’s, sorry, brand’s promise could be to overcome the sources of fear, to move away from fear to greatness. No matter how unpalatable or seemingly unfounded that brand positioning might be to a distant observer, it is authentic to those it serves because it is consistent and present across every touchpoint, every performance, every piece of content. It is in embedding the core idea into the very fabric of a brand that authenticity is at its most powerful.’

Source : Kantar Added Value, Kantar Millward Brown

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