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The Importance of Building a Human and Authentic Brand – A Podcast


Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Welcome to Stop 7 of MISSION: Authentic

What does it mean, as a company and a brand, to be authentic and human, and why does it matter? Those are the questions guiding the conversation between Mack Web CEO Mack Fogelson and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai.

The simplest reason is that being authentic and human is the best way to earn your customers’ trust. And earning their trust is the best way not only to attract their business but also to ensure that they amplify your brand awareness with their own powerful word-of-mouth recommendation.

In short, being authentic and human is an important way to build a successful business.

Mack and Nat, two experts in the field of humanizing brands and humanizing the web, engage in a 30-minute conversation about why and how a brand should embrace these characteristics and behave in an authentic way.

In the podcast you’ll learn that:

  • consumers prefer authenticity over utility,
  • authenticity is about building trust,
  • marketing is about conversation (not broadcasting messages),
  • and building relationships with customers is imperative.

If you can’t spare 30 minutes, here are the key takeaways.

Key Takeaways

Authenticity trumps innovation

In 2015 Cohn & Wolfe conducted a global survey that found that 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition. It turns out that more important than the popularity and appeal of a brand is the willingness for a company to communicate openly and honestly about their products and services.

Failure to be open and honest can cause any brand major problems, no matter how innovative or useful the product. In August 2015, Spotify learned this to their detriment. Public outcry arose regarding their privacy policy, which contained vague explanations or unclear usage of personal information. This opacity, a violation of trust, caused consumers to second guess if this innovative product is worth the risk and worth the relationship.

Authenticity is about building trust

Because people care when a brand they love violates values or trust, businesses have a vested interest in being more human and consistent in the ways they manifest their values. Customers who see proof of authenticity and human effort are more understanding when something does go wrong, allowing the company to maintain a healthy relationship with their audience, even in uncertain times.

As Simon Sinek says, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” A company can’t just rely on listing their values or their purpose on their website. A company must embrace and believe its purpose, living it out in all manner of interactions. When the brand believes it, consumers will believe it, and the brand will attract the right audience for its product.

[quote]“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”[/quote]

Marketing has matured from broadcast messages to conversation

When a business believes in and is living out its purpose, its message changes from one of “we’ll tell you how it is” to “let’s build something together.” And building something together requires an actual, live, collaborative connection between businesses and consumers. That kind of connection starts with genuine conversation. Rather than broadcasting, a business is connecting and listening and engaging with their audience in a way that builds trust. When a business does this well and does it consistently, it will build relationships and a deeper bond.

For example, Beta Brand is a crowdsourced clothing designer and retailer with an incredibly strong relationship with its audience. Its entire business model is based on interactions with consumers. Through their crowdfunding opportunities, the Think Tank, or the Model Citizen effort, Beta Brand encourages their customers to share their ideas and opinions so that Beta Brand can develop a product that people want. These conversations are critical to everyone’s success.

Beta Brand's Think Tank

In the LikeAGirl campaign from Always, they ask real girls (rather than actors) to challenge the negative meaning behind the phrase “…like a girl,” inspiring women and girls to embrace what it means to do something “like a girl.” By changing the meaning of an age-old insult, Always is participating in a nationwide conversation that is helping girls to understand their power and potential.

Patagonia, a clothing retailer, paves the way as an environmentally minded company and paves the way for corporations their size to do better in our world and for our world. Their Worn Wear effort encourages people not to buy a product (thereby contributing to waste), but rather to repair existing clothing items, making that mission of helping the environment at the forefront of their business. Meanwhile, they are building a strong community of supporters around them and their products by engaging in conversation about and showcasing the personal stories and photos of the fleece jackets, hats, shorts, etc., that their customers have enjoyed – sometimes over several generations.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 3.39.12 PM

Building relationships is not quick, but it is imperative

A relationship with customers takes time to build. It is the result of positive interactions that occur over and over again. Companies that are able to genuinely connect with customers gain a strategic advantage over companies that don’t.

This approach to business does not result in significant short-term ROI, but when you have the values of building trust and building relationships at the core of your strategy, you can figure out what goals you want to – and can – achieve over 6, 12, or 18 months.

Besides building a stronger, more successful company, another benefit of this relationship building approach is that when mistakes are made – and they will be – customers are much more forgiving. A company that has invested in building a relationship with its customers is also invested in doing better and will learn from its mistakes.

You, too, can become an authentic brand

To help companies become authentic and make important connections with their customers, we’ve identified nine fundamental components that are integral to success. These components should adapt at every stage and phase of the business so that as the business grows, each component must be re-evaluated for new and different challenges (new goals, new competitors, new things to measure). In addition, these components must properly align and work together for a brand to effectively communicate its worth to the world and experience its desired momentum and durability.



Focus on your meaning beyond money to build trust

Even though the world is digital, business is about people and their ability to make connections. Companies interested in building a better business and a better, more durable brand must start with authenticity and an interest in having a real, human interaction with its customers.

With the core components above you have a clear vision of how to analyze where your company is, and then, how to analyze where your company is headed. Use these components as a map for assessing where you’re going and the goals to accomplish it in both the short- and long-term so that you can build an authentic brand.

About the Speakers

Nathalie Nahai – Nathalie Nahai is a web psychologist, international speaker, and author of the best-selling book Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion (Pearson). Having coined the term “web psychology” in 2011, she helps businesses apply scientific rigour to their website design and content marketing.

Mack Fogelson – Mack Fogelson is the CEO of Mack Web and has been in digital marketing, SEO, and brand building for 12 years. She dives into the duties of speaker, blogger, and relationship builder with authenticity, eloquence, and the judicious application of profanity. She seeks to build remarkable brands for companies that care as much about the impact they make on the world as they do the profits they record in the books.

MISSION: AuthenticMission-Authentic-Game-Board


Author Beth Etter

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