Why tribe and authenticity go hand in hand
Brands need to get the authenticity piece right to position themselves as part of a tribe, says Jeremy Francis.
We’ve all been party to that awkward conversation where a group of people are talking excitedly about something they’re all obviously passionate about – TV show, band, sports team, you name it – and then one person weighs in with an opinion that’s about as erudite on the topic as Donald Trump on gender relations.
It’s embarrassing all around, except sometimes the person who has dropped the clanger remains utterly oblivious to their faux pas.
This kind of exchange is an encapsulation of the dynamic encountered by brands that make attempts to ingratiate themselves into a community or an audience with which they have no real or established connection or bond.
They usually either come across as comically clueless or glaringly obvious in their attempts to push their commercial message.
In short: the tribe smells a fake.
Companies, and by extension brands, love the idea of building brand through community. And it makes sense because once you have a community around your brand you have strength in loyalty and numbers. It makes things a lot easier for marketers and gives the brand a strong strategy focus.
But just like the poor new kid at school who has to shop himself around to various social cliques in the hope of acceptance and validation, brands have to be strategically marketed to the right people, otherwise they’re left eating lunch alone.
Brands need to find their tribe and speak to them in a way that resonates as authentic and true.
Brands connect to community and create trust, which engenders authenticity. This reflects back on the brand. The brand has tribe endorsement.
Authenticity doesn’t come from marketing or advertising campaigns; it comes from the relationship brands have with consumers. Marketing can do a great job of highlighting the positive aspects of a brand either to existing customers or potential ones; and it can also do a fantastic job at applying a thick layer of paint to persuade consumers to perceive a brand as authentic.
As marketing professionals, we all know what a tough job that can be.
Marketing is certainly an integral part of any brand authenticity strategy, but its aims and functions have to be part of bigger business-wide goals. Getting authenticity miles on the clock is all about doing the little things right, across the business; making every touch point for existing and potential customers ring true; talking with customers and potential customers about what they like and don’t like.
When your brand finds its tribe, it becomes part of a community of shared interest. That shared interest means your brand is on the same page, making the same jokes, understanding the shared context that make the jokes work. Talking the same language.
It’s about stepping out from behind the logo and becoming a real part of the community, part of the tribe. This is authenticity. It’s not simple or easy to achieve, which is why it is talked about so much.
Jeremy Francis is marketing manager of Marketplacer.
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