These are live-blogged notes and sketches from a Bazaarvoice Summit session on authentic branding, delivered by Philipp Kristian, Human x Transformation, from Studio Everywhere, on April 6th 2022. You can find the on-demand webinar version right here.
Let’s go on a magical little journey together. It begins with the courage to dare. We must embrace the right courage. We need to find ways of doing things with a little more inspiration, a little more investment in brand authenticity, and then we’ll reap the rewards.
And that journey starts with a story. Somewhere in the desert there’s a tree of life, full of vibrant, green nature. You’re sitting in the desert, looking up at the tree. How does it thrive in a water-free desert, you wonder?
We know the answer: It thrives underground — its roots go very deep, and find nourishment via the water it finds there.
The roots of authentic branding
The analogy works well for authentic branding. It’s what helps us flourish and thrive as brands. We need to understand the root system that feeds the tree. User-generated content (UGC) among humans is just social setting, social context, it helps make you who you are.
You need to go beneath the surface to find the nourishment we need to grow, though. So, what’s the source of our authenticity? What’s the well we draw from? Wells are often deeply hidden, but they do exist. What type of water do we have? What quality? This has a huge impact on how we grow and thrive. The roots are more important than the soil. It’s the roots that define what a flower is.
What does it mean to be you as a person, a brand, a retailer? Bazaarvoice is all about authenticity and the voice of the consumer. But it’s also an invitation to understand what makes you you as a brand. It’s a journey that goes deep, one that’s about uniqueness. Brand authenticity pays tribute to the unique contribution we make. We’re nourished by the people around us, the people who share stories about us, and who value what we so.
This is true both at work and in our personal lives. We should Iive our authenticity every day.
Amplifying authentic voices
If you go to Bali these days, you won’t ask for caesar salad, you’ll ask for local, authentic food. We’ll celebrate the diversity. When you as a brand amplify voices, wherever they say, you’re sharing with the light of the truth. You’re leaning into authenticity. It’s the only way we can control who we are. If we put up a façade, we’re constantly having to maintain it, repair it. If we’re authentic, we’re in tune with the world and our true nature.
This only works if, as brands, we have a reason to be. Every brand has a contribution to make to the world — and if we get it wrong, people need to share that with us. Only then can we get better.
Greatness is a personal story. Authenticity only become tangible in the decisions we make. If we want an authentic future, we need to infuse every decision with brand authenticity, and that comes with a true north, a compass. And Bazaarvoice should be that source.
Cherishing the discourse — and using it
Imagine a world without all that UGC, and the checks and balances it brings. Imagine a world without ratings, reviews and micro-influencer content. It would be like the dark ages, yet it was only 20 years ago. Think about how much value we’ve gained since.
We need to cherish debate, as the Romans did. It’s about growing by understanding others’ vantage points. It’s a chance for us to build a level-headed, even relationship with people as a brand. We make the things happen that they want, and we get a conversion, a sale. The more we can make that happen, the better.
That’s the ultimate invitation to embrace our own story and transform with it. The world’s most innovative thinkers find the courage to think differently, they dare to be authentic, to understand that it’s not just about the customer, the channel, or the brand. It’s about discovery, and finding beauty and insight in that discussion.
The big brand personality is the future
When you think about the alternative, inauthenticity, it’s a really short-lived strategy. Most of us already do checks on companies we buy from, so we can see the difference between an authentic brand, and one that isn’t. And when they aren’t, we wonder why — and what they’re hiding. It invites us to be more critical. So, admit that you’re human, that you don’t get it right all the time. People respect that.
The future belongs to big brand personalities. And even small brands can have big personalities. As brand leaders, we start by knowing who we are as brands on the inside. Without that, we can’t have a vision people want to follow. And it makes things easer because it realigns peoples’ and brands’ interests. This is the relationship renaissance.
We want humans to be human, so we want brands to be human, and to connect at a human level — authentically. It builds the ultimate trust. Our interests are aligned, and we remove friction.
Giving clarity in a strange world
Our world is complex and strange at the moment. So, this means that when we can be genuine, it’s truly a break-through. As brands and retailers, and as people interested in the voices of others, we can draw on them to rediscover ourselves. They can remind us what’s good and great about what we do — and help us transform into the best version of ourselves.
If we bring our best selves to the table, we’ll stand out.
Growth is easy when we know where we’re going — it cuts through the complexity with a strong, simple story. People can feel the difference that makes. When we know who we are, everyone in the organization knows it too.
Transform your world with authentic branding
Bazaarvoice is driving a community movement by connecting those dots, by understanding that consumers, retailers, channels, and brands are better together. We build something great when we collaborate instead of fighting for attention. Let’s start doing this today, with every decision we make. Let’s make it all about the people in the equation.
It’s not easy. It takes commitment. But once you’re authentic, who would want to go back? The greatest success is to nourish your true self, as a brand, a company — or an individual.
What does authentic branding mean to you? Think about it, and your world will transform.
The retail industry is as strong as ever. And consumers hold the power like never before. They decide how a brand is perceived, and the risk of boycott in today’s cancel culture is very real. The dramatic power shift to customers has led to heightened actions and vocalizing for authenticity, improved experiences, and above all, for consumers to feel heard. Catch up on Bazaarvoice Summit to see how to win hearts and minds of today’s consumers.