Coke versus Pepsi. Nike versus Adidas. Apple versus Android.
Chances are you immediately picked a side. Here’s a question: hand on your heart, what makes these so different?
Sure, you could make a case for minor variations between each product — Pepsi cola for example is known to be a bit sweeter than Coca-Cola – and you might even have a few valid points. But the differences themselves aren’t enough to substantiate how wildly divisive these brands can be. So what gives one an edge over the other?
Two words: your brand. Brand marketing is powerful, and even more so in today’s world, where digital consumers are constantly bombarded by brand messages and advertising. According to PWC, 70% of consumers consider brand trust to be an essential factor in their buying decisions.
Businesses know this — that’s why so many of them consider customer engagement and advocacy a top priority. But while that outward perspective is important, it’s equally crucial to turn the focus inward and think about your internal customers — your employees.
Whether it’s C-suite leadership living out brand values, or the impression your intern leaves with after their first day of work, being an authentic brand means truly living out your values through every interaction, and through every employee.
Because when people trust your people, they’ll trust you.
Here’s how you can make that happen:
Start at the top
Talking the talk and more importantly, walking the talk is crucial to building authenticity. And this is especially necessary for your leadership team that represents the company in every interaction. Whether it’s in real life, media interviews, or even interactions with your customers on social media, authentic leaders pave the way for authentic brands.
A great global example is Walmart CEO Doug McMillion, who has almost a million followers on LinkedIn. McMillion uses the professional networking platform to share significant corporate updates in engaging ways. His Facebook page is filled with similar examples, such as this image of himself signing long-service certificates for Walmart staff. The post organically garnered many positive comments about his warm and authentic leadership, and how much he cares for his people.
As the individuals with the most public profiles, your C-Suite can benefit from proactive reputation management and strategic public relations (PR) and social media support. In fact, a report found that more than half of consumers want CEOs to have a personal presence on social media, allowing them to feel more accessible and human. If your C-Suite leadership succeeds in being authentic, personable, and believable, they can change the way consumers think about your brand.
When it comes to inspiring brand trust, showing your customers that you care about their specific needs goes a long way. This is particularly important for brands with global teams, who need to connect with and understand regional markets to capture local consumers.
We’ve seen this play out in our work with global SaaS company Zendesk, where we helped build their share of voice in the region by developing hyper-local narratives from global flagship reports, clinching key interview and commentary opportunities in our media landscape.
In the last year alone, we achieved a 40% increase in year-on-year coverage across top-tier mainstream and trade media titles, driving Zendesk’s global business messaging in our regional market.
Overall, a hyper-localised context plays a key role in resonating with local audiences. Tuning in to the demands of the region shows that you care about, and are deeply rooted in the immediate community, building a sense of solidarity between customer and brand.
The not-so-silent majority
While targeted PR solutions for key leadership and spokespeople can help build trust and credibility for your brand, your biggest potential for brand advocacy is, and will always be, your everyday employees.
When you ensure that your employees feel valued at work, and that they are able to live out the brand values at the core of your organisation, you create the most compelling case for authenticity. The organic nature of this advocacy instills deep trust among your people and ultimately, in the people around them.
We work hard to do this at Mutant everyday, and were recently recognized as the Best Agency to Work For (mid-sized) by PRWeek Asia. And while the recognition is nice, it isn’t essential. If you value your people, it will show in the way they champion your brand. That’s how you build brand authenticity at every level.
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