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Welcome to Stop 5 of MISSION: Authentic
This month, in honor of some pretty cool stuff we’re working on over here, we’re bringing you a different kind of NOKlist. Instead of dropping some knowledge, this month’s Nuggets are holding up a few shining examples of businesses that are doing this marketing thing right.
We spend a lot of time pondering the things that make a company stand out: What draws people in? What makes them want to stay? What inspires customer loyalty, elicits sincere praise, generates the kind of word-of-mouth awareness that no agency or campaign can hope to duplicate? (You may have run across this theme in, oh, just about anything else we’ve ever written.)
We did our research – talked to our peers, consulted our gut instincts, spent some time observing the world – and came to this conclusion: consumers today are drawn to companies that sincerely, honestly, openly care about something more.
We call them authentic companies because when a company sincerely, honestly, openly cares about something, it shows. It glows, it shines, it affects everything they do. Which means that what you see on the outside is who they are all the way to the core. 100% genuine, authentic, Grade-A them-ness.
That’s what this month’s NOKlist is sharing with you. We each spent some time thinking about a company, a brand that we loved. Then we thought about why we loved it. Would you be shocked to discover that the reasons we found all came down to the sincerity, the authenticity of their mission or purpose?
The missions encapsulated below come in different shapes and sizes, from the love of a specific coffee bar to the more general dedication to a certain customer experience; from the very personal belief in the delight of juice to the wide-reaching insistence on transparency.
The shape of the mission hardly matters. It’s the determination to hold true to it that makes each of these companies shine.
See for yourself.
An authentic company, to me, is a company that not only understands why they exist and what they are trying to accomplish/change/contribute to in the world, but holds to that purpose, as much as humanly possible, in everything they do. This is exactly how I would describe Harbinger Coffee.
Jonathon Jarrow, the owner, believes in good, quality coffee and that coffee can be an experience. This experience can be felt in many ways: the design of his space (which is complete with a coffee bar to build relationships with patrons), the people he has hired to serve his customers, the knowledge he shares while making your drink, cuppings he holds, the classes he teaches, … and, of course, in the beverages themselves.
In every choice he makes about Harbinger – from the custom seasonal drinks to the everyone-is-welcome-here attitude – Jonathan is committed to creating and sharing the best coffee experience possible, slowly changing the way we understand and appreciate coffee.
Innocent Drinks sells juice – and a fun, quirky, silly attitude that goes along with it. Throughout their website, their blog, and their social channels, they let their personality show – and their audience responds well to it. They have cultivated a giant following – including me, and I’ve never even tasted their product! – who engages with their lighthearted approach to juice and life.
But even though they can be silly and lighthearted, you can tell they take their juice seriously. They absolutely have a strong product that people repeatedly buy because it’s a good product from a good company.
To me, authenticity is synonymous with being human. That means that as a company, they don’t just have a beautiful website or store that you can shop in, but everything about the experience with their brand feels like real, genuine, trustworthy, supportive, honest, and transparent people are behind them. It means I have confidence that they’re building a worthwhile company and that they’re passionate about their meaning and mission. Sharing these values and characteristics make a brand I really want to be part of, even when they’re not perfect all the time.
What I love about Whole Foods is that they feel like a friend to me. Shopping with them never feels like the typical (and dreaded) grocery store experience. Online I can connect through recipes and tips about how to feed my family from real people who also care like I do about what they put into their bodies (and how they feed their kids). Offline, when I go to their store, not only is it beautiful and clean, but I’m met by helpful people who are happy to be working there and want to make sure I get what I need.
It may cost more to shop there, but because of their authenticity, I know I can count on them to bring comfort and even a tiny little bit of peace to my busy life. They remain one of my most favorite brands.
If you don’t know anything about Timbuk2 – they make tough-as-hell messenger bags, backpacks and other accessories – you’re missing out. I’ve owned numerous bags from them over the past 5 years. Their products are not only practical but also come with style – your custom style.
Timbuk2 continues to be innovative not only with their different product lines but also with the way they’ve built their brand through the biking community. They LOVE bikes and it bleeds into everything they do. They go as far as to protect your bike when you’re not looking. Check out their Soggy Buns campaign.
With the internet, we have access to any product we want, but the brands that go the extra mile – that help the customer connect beyond the products – continue to set new standards. Driving revenue is important, but focusing on being part of something bigger will allow you to connect at a much deeper level with a brand. Cheers to authentic brands!
If you, like a lot of us on this team, use Buffer, then you know that they have a great product, create helpful content, and are really knowledgeable about different aspects of marketing. But here’s what I think differentiates them and what makes them perfect for this list: transparency! We hear a lot about transparency and its importance, but Buffer doesn’t just give it a nod by writing blog posts about this topic. They continually affirm and reveal how important it is to them. And this transparency is closely linked to their authenticity.
You can get the full picture of their authentic qualities on the Open blog; Buffer’s extremely open (ha!) about everything from their team structure to salaries. They give blog readers and social followers an inside look at both their successes and mistakes. They experiment, and they fill us in on the results. They admit when things are tough (and pass on the lessons they learn dealing with tough things, so we all can benefit!). They’re real.
And when they publish something big, like this Marketing Manifesto, you know that they’re sharing their heart, that they care, and that they’re committed to making something great.
- Mission briefing
- Stop One: Our New Digs
- Stop Two: Cultivate an Asset
- Stop Three: Pick a Good Alias
- Stop Four: Improvise
- Stop Five: Regroup & Conquer
- Stop Six: Safe House
- Stop Seven: Get the Intel
- Stop Eight: Hang on Tight
- Stop Nine: Mack Web is now Genuinely