The internet is crowded. And that’s an understatement. News sites are sending your laptop fans into overdrive because they are packed heavy with ads. Promoted posts are worming their way into your social feeds like… well, worms. It’s even a challenge to get through a YouTube video without being blasted by a sponsorship message of some kind. (Needless to say, this blog isn’t sponsored by Squarespace.)
But let’s be clear – we understand the need for ad revenue, affiliates and partnerships, particularly when it funds many of the free content or apps that we use during the average day. We also understand that the internet is just as much a marketplace as it is a place for recreation and research. Even so, there are so many brand messages thrust upon us that it can be a little overwhelming.
Let’s get some stats in here before someone pipes up with “It’s not that bad, is it?” In 1970, the average American was exposed to up to 1,600 ads per day. In 2021, it was estimated that the average American saw up to 10,000 ads in one day – and that’s double 2007’s estimate of 5,000.
How to get noticed in brand advertising
In the world of ridiculous budgets, Superbowl ad breaks and celebrity endorsements, the answer is money, plain and simple. For a big brand to get bigger, they increase their marketing spend and what do you know, we’re all talking about it on Slack or around the watercooler the next day.
But we don’t work with Aldi, Marmite or John Lewis. We work with SMEs, legal firms and medical organisations. Whilst these businesses are successful in their own field, they’re not spending millions of pounds on an extended Christmas commercial or a limited run of novelty packaging. And we like to think that even if they did have the budget, they wouldn’t do it anyway.
Honesty is the best policy
You may have seen or heard us talk about #honestbrands. It’s our unofficial tagline and something we’ve stood by since the day Jeremy and James set up shop. We work with brands who have something authentic and genuine to say, and want to say it in a way that is principled and sincere. We do this because we believe that authenticity is what customers are really looking for. And we do this because in a crowded marketplace, you can be heard, noticed and remembered by being your true self.
Breaking it down
We used some nice words there (authenticity, genuinity, principality, sincerity), so let’s use them to set out how and why an #honestbrand is key to cutting through the noise, attracting prospects, and converting them to loyal customers..
The bedrock of it all. And for us, it starts with respect. Every brand or business that we work with has an inordinate amount of respect for their clients and customers. To show respect to your customers you must understand their personas, their expectations and their needs.
Tone of voice, accessibility and usability all play a key part in putting out a clear marketing message. Awareness, responsiveness and nimbleness play a crucial part in understanding your audience and acting proactively when something needs to change.
Examples of brand authenticity:
- Being consistent with your story and your service
- Delivering real value to your clients
- Treating employees and customers with respect
- Being transparent around issues and problems
Genuinity is avoiding dishonesty at all costs. That might be something like paying for fake reviews, manufacturing an origin story as part of your brand, selling false promises, or even some of the more nitty gritty, such as passing customer data to third parties.
We help our clients show their genuinity by helping them discover their story. We often hear something along the lines of “But why would our customers care?” The truth is, customers are looking to buy from a brand they feel they can trust, and that all begins with the very human practice of simply telling them who you are and where you’re from.
Examples of brand genuinity:
- Avoiding unethical marketing and SEO practices
- Avoiding misleading user experience design
- Telling your audience exactly who you are
- Living up to the promises you make in your marketing
It sounds quite authoritarian, doesn’t it? Principles are fundamentally a code of conduct, which in brand and marketing world, equates to values. We’ve spoken extensively about brand values in several recent blogs, which you can check out via the following links:
Examples of brand principality:
- Setting clear and attainable brand values
- Apply them to how you work with and hire your staff
- Apply them to how you treat your customers and clients
- Apply them to your socioeconomic responsibilities as a business
In 1997, David Aaker, a well-recognised theorist, published the 5 Dimension Brand Personality Model. It emphasises the importance of identity and offers unique solutions to building a strong brand. Today, the paper’s concepts are still widely used by many leading brand agencies and strategists. In Aaker’s model, sincerity is a key part of brand personality.
Sincere traits include being down-to-earth, honest, wholesome and cheerful. This differs from honesty in that it’s the way things are communicated rather than what is communicated. For instance, a business saying “We are a B Corp so we are better than other companies”… that’s not sincerity. Don’t be like that.
Examples of brand sincerity:
- Acting humbly around your merits such as awards and accreditations
- Showing interest, support and compassion to your clients and customers
- Remaining true to your beginnings or your ‘roots’ as the business grows
- And most of all, sticking to your authenticity, genuinity and principality
Be an #honestbrand in 2022 and beyond
These four pillars form the foundation of an #honestbrand. To build upon those foundations, businesses need people. Those people are everyone: the founders, the marketing team, the HR team, the sales team, the call centre team, the front of house team.
Whilst every business is different, the pattern remains the same. Good leadership, strong values and a clear vision pave the way for a business that can expect low staff turnover and loyal customers.
If you’re looking to put words into action, or you’re ready to start walking the talk and the walk, consider working with a brand agency like Journey. We begin our client relationships with a discovery period in which we can really understand a business, its people and their customers. From there, we can make informed and validated decisions around design, brand, marketing, content and much more.
It’s all about the Journey.
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