How Online Marketing Builds Brand Authenticity
Often, when we build content marketing campaigns for customers online, we learn a lot about our clients. We then must reflect who they are as a company on their website and the Internet. As we discover more about these companies, we begin to shine a mirror back at the business itself. Sometimes company owners don’t like what they see in their reflection.
They might respond: “This feels off-brand.”
We create content for companies based on what business owners communicate with us they want. We also form content based on marketing research. We can see the types of information their ideal customers are looking for on Google.
If we create marketing content based on what the company shares with us they want and build it based on what their customers are looking for online, why is there frustration? Why are business owners sometimes unhappy with the finished product a well-informed marketing agency produces?
The fact is, what seems evident to us as an outsider looking at a brand is not immediately apparent to the companies themselves. This process of analyzing companies and their customers can start some useful conversations.
- What is your brand?
- Do you know what unique value your company is actually offering in the current marketplace?
- Are you sure you know what your company’s brand should be?
01: Stop Trying to Be Cool
Very often, entrepreneurs start small businesses as a reflection of their ego. It becomes a pretend entity, a way for owners to act cooler than they are in real life.
It’s evident in marketing material like videos, brochures, or PR content when a company uses its brand as an excuse for making someone look sexy to the public. A company should not be your way to make things work in the bedroom. There are drugs for that now.
This situation reminds me of that great line in the movie Almost Famous, when rock star Russell Hammond says to journalist William Miller, “Can’t you just make us look cool?” That’s not the job of a journalist. Nor is it the job of a marketing agency, contrary to popular thinking.
Branding Isn’t about Cool
Branding is never about making companies look cool. The concept of “cool” is a trite idea. I dare you to go into a fashion designer and ask her if her goal is to create something cool. That never enters the lexicon or the mindset of someone performing at that level. Even in an industry that works within popular culture, if your goal is to be cool, you will endlessly fail. To be cool is to be popular, which is to be “in the now.” If you are working in an innovative marketplace and trying to be cool, you will always be late to trends.
If you are working in these creative cultures, you’re working with big ideas, complicated concepts, and sumptuous structures. You are never shooting for the effervescent, never attainable goal of cool. That’s like waking up in the morning and forcing yourself to be happy. Whoever achieves that? If we do, it’s something that just happens due to hard work, moral character, and an ability to be present. But if you’re forcing it, you’re failing.
No One Is Looking for Cool
When we start to build content for any company, we start asking deep and complex questions about that business. We’re not trying to put a shiny surface on a shabby image. Marketing is serious intellectual work. It means finding out what problems your business actually solves for customers; We are not merely making you look cool.
No one is looking for a cool company that they want to hang out with because they need a friend. Who has time for that? Who has money for that? We’re all looking for solutions to problems. Every purchase is a transaction with a purpose. So, let’s not get stuck on the adolescent business of trying to make you look cool. Even adolescents can see past that ploy.
Marketing should look professional, and there is an art to it. Still, many companies waste time and money on meaningless exercises, searching for what they think their customers think is cool. This is just feeding the ego and not serious business.
02: Why Not Lie?
You may think our job in marketing is to tell the public whatever you want about your brand. Who cares what the reality is. We should be able to invent whatever truth we want to tell if we’re good at this. Right? But, It doesn’t work that way.
A good marketing campaign should be a reflection of reality. Too much of the modern marketplace comes through repeat customers and based on a company’s reputation online. Marketing can’t cheat that process, although many have certainly tried. We build great marketing on a foundation of some form of truth.
03: The Uncomfortable Process of Discovering the Truth about your Brand
When a company sees who they genuinely are, and this understanding is based on reality, it can be an uncomfortable and useful process. It’s not unlike what an individual goes through in the office of a psychoanalyst. The business owner must come to terms with their cognitive dissonance, those inconsistent thoughts we all have about our behaviors.
How each of us is in denial about ourselves is a form of protection of the self. We don’t want to face emotional pain. Many companies do not want to face the difficulties involved with looking squarely and honestly at their brand and the potential changes that may come from those questions.
Ultimately you want to be authentic as a company and honest with your customers about your brand. You want your company’s marketing to truly reflect who you are, rather than aspire to visions of coolness.
When you make specific promises to potential customers and have experiences with you that don’t match up, this creates an extremely negative perception about your company. On the other hand, when you deliver on your promises, your customers develop a powerful sense of brand loyalty even if you’re not perfect.
How Apple Sells Innovation
Apple is not a perfect company but they have the most famous and successful brand in the world. They have long communicated the idea that they sell innovation. They continue to innovate technologically and at a design level. As long as they continue to do so, they will thrive in their marketplace. Their advertising has long sold this message, and their products, services, and customer experiences have mostly matched this messaging.
Selling Mental Health
We help any small business looking for more customers, but our area of specialty is marketing for those in the mental health industry. We see this issue of brand authenticity play out for them as well. Mental health clinics are the type of local businesses that need employees who are also mentally well themselves. Each therapist or psychologist must demonstrate the necessary qualities of wellness.
Relating to others is an essential aspect of mental health. Are you running a mental health clinic? Are you communicating well with customers as a company? What does your marketing say about the mental health of the employees of your company? What does your marketing say about the mental health of your employees if you’re failing at communication? Clinics have a branding problem when these types of issues occur.
Yet so many mental health clinics under-invest in their marketing. It’s both a failure and an opportunity. If we were to merely say, our job in content marketing is to tell a story about you. That’s like Russell Hammond saying, “Can’t just you just make us look cool?’ But that’s not what real marketing advisors who know what they’re doing should do. Our job is much a much more in-depth process.
Are You Willing to Look in the Mirror?
If you don’t want us as marketers to ask these tough questions, if you’d rather not have your company reflected back to in your marketing content, we’re probably not the right type of agency for you. If you’re interested in doing a deep dive into what makes your company tick, if you want to have your marketing content displayed honestly and effectively, creating a customer experience where their expectations match their experience, we may be the right fit for you. The results can be profitable and rewarding.