A lot has been said about authenticity in marketing. In fact, I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of “what is brand authenticity”, “benefits of authenticity in marketing”, and “how to be authentic” lists. This blog post focuses on your writing.
We’ll give you a starting point for how to effectively communicate your authenticity; to highlight that which makes you authentic.
But let’s start at the beginning.
What does it mean to be authentic?
At its most basic, authenticity is an incredibly simple concept. It is just about being true to who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
At the end of the day it’s really about having good intentions in all that you do.
You really can’t go wrong with that.
Authenticity is rewarded
While the word may be overused in the marketing circle, authenticity itself has not diminished in value. How could it when it’s a quality that we expect and appreciate?
That’s actually why marketers encourage authenticity—it’s an organic way to grow a business.
Well, authenticity is rewarded. Not the pretend or “fake it ‘til you make it” kind of authentic, but the genuine kind.
One of the greatest rewards is that amidst all the marketing noise and barrage of promotional messages, authentic brands get heard.
By being honest, brands build stronger, lasting connections with customers—loyal customers that are then happy to recommend them to others.
Being straightforward and responsible earns buyers’ trust, so they’re rewarded with a good reputation. Consumers are then happy to give those products / services / experiences (whatever it may be) a chance.
How to effectively communicate authenticity
I’m sure you’re aware that when it comes to authenticity, you have to do more than talk the talk; you also have to walk the walk.
But since there are plenty of resources on that topic, I’d like to focus instead on how you can convey authenticity in your writing.
Everything starts with “why”
Before you start writing anything – whether it’s copy for your website or a blog post – you’ll want to start with the question “why?”
Remember your raison d’être.
What I mean is there’s more to your business than what you do and how you do it. There’s the ‘why’ of it all.
Because when it comes to authenticity, why you do what you do matters a great deal—it’s the aspect that your stakeholders can relate to. Your ‘why’ is what resonates with consumers. That alone makes it a story worth telling.
If you haven’t really thought about it, you need to get to the root of why your brand or business exists.
I recently read an interesting article about a traditional Japanese soya sauce brewer. The article piqued my interest, so I started reading up on the company and I really feel that Yamaroku is a great example of using ‘why’ as the basis for how to tell one’s story. Even evolving stories, like his.
Everything about Yamaroku—their product, brewing process, and even their website’s copy—is authentic.
Want to know what’s amazing?
I’ve never seen nor tasted their products in person (let alone heard about Yamaroku before that BBC article) but their story (even just the translated version) makes me want to switch from my current brand of soya sauce to their traditional shoyu.
Now that’s effective copywriting!
Keep it real
If you want to communicate authenticity, you have to keep things real. What do I mean by that?
It’s really simple: be you.
When it comes to your writing, rather than attempting to mimic those who achieved success in your field before you, find or develop your own voice.
And then be consistent with it both online and offline. You don’t want to have split personalities across channels. It can be confusing.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be imperfect. It’s normal to want to always put your best foot forward but let’s be honest: we know that there’s no such thing as perfect.
We all mistakes, we all learn as we go along-—brands included. Owning up to that or sharing what’s behind the scenes is what makes you relatable.
So rather than pretending to be something you’re not, embrace who you are and infuse your writing with that.
Look at how Zotter keeps things real. While others might choose to sugarcoat their humble beginnings, they’re not embarrassed to say they went bankrupt or that they opened their factory on their parents’ farm “as it was the cheapest location for a new start”—because that’s the truth.
Another truth? If they gave product development veto rights to youngest daughter Valerie, they’d “produce nothing but white chocolate.”
We’ll never know if that’s really the case but their earlier honesty combined with this little bit of humour really grounds their story and comes across as authentic. It makes the reader like them more.
(Also, it doesn’t hurt that their chocolate’s actually really good!)
Listen and respond
When you’re writing copy or content for your business, it’s incredibly important that you listen to what your stakeholders are saying about and to you.
Then incorporate that in your writing.
You’ll sound all the more down-to-earth, approachable, and real. As a bonus, you will be showing your customers that you sincerely care—their opinion matters.
Here’s just one way of using feedback in your writing.
Lizi’s Granola (Low Sugar Granola) took customer feedback and incorporated it in their packaging’s back panel copy: “When I first started making my granola in my B&B in the 1990s, occasionally somebody would say that it was too sweet for their taste. Now, with the emphasis on healthy eating and a move to minimise sugar intake as much as possible, I have produced this version of my granola, in which I have reduced sugar levels much further.”
I hope that these three tips lay the groundwork to help you craft highly effective copy and meaningful content. Good luck!
If you have any questions, comments, or need help piecing together something that embodies your authenticity, don’t be shy to get in touch.