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Vera Fischer Solocast Episode #2

Episode 27: 6 Brand Authenticity Strategies for Reinforcing a Strong Brand Perception, with Vera Fischer

Vera Fischer began her career in residential real estate, working her way up from Leasing Agent to Property Manager. She segued to Operations Manager for the first privately held Cognitive Rehabilitation clinic in Austin, Texas.

In 1993, Vera launched her career at GSD&M, an internationally known advertising agency. After various positions within several Austin area agencies, Vera went client-side to Forgent Networks. There she managed and implemented a multi-million dollar marketing budget for several years.

In 2004, Vera founded her agency, 97 Degrees West known as The Brand Marketing Agency. Since 2004, the agency has survived both recessions and shown significant growth since 2012. Clients include: LS Tractor USA, United Heritage Credit Union, FirstCare Health Plans and several area small businesses in real estate, oil & gas and specialty medical practices.

97 Degrees West has been the recipient of 15 international creative and marketing awards including a Stevie Award from the American Business Association.

Vera is a member of the University Area Rotary Club, a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University, a Mentor at Capital Factory and most recently, was accepted to the Master’s program at Texas State University in Strategic Communications.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Brand authenticity: what is it?
  • What brand really means
  • Why achieving brand authenticity means gaining loyalty
  • Why saying your brand is authentic is never the answer
  • The 6 strategies for building brand authenticity

Ways to contact Vera:

Transcript:

Welcome to System Execution, the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company, but here we’ll solve your physical, technological, and psychological systems issues, by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business. And providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now, here’s your host, Vera Fischer.

Vera Fischer: Hey System Execution listeners. Welcome to System Execution, a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to draw to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host. Today’s solocast is sponsored by 97 Degrees West, the brand marketing agency located in Austin, Texas.

97 Degrees West serves regional and national companies in the healthcare, finance, energy, and manufacturing industries. 97 Degrees West believes that an integrated approach to marketing that involves traditional and digital strategies that fit your customers’ buying journey, yields the greatest impact on your bottom line. Go to www.97dwest.com to learn more.

Brand Authenticity: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Let’s get started with today’s episode.

Do you guys remember when brand meant branding a cow, or bandwidth referred to sound frequency? Or one of my really big-time favorites is cookies.

Remember when cookies were just cookies? But no, now they have a bad rap. Cookies are what tracks your every move on the internet.

Which brings me to our topic today: Authenticity.

The newest buzz word that is getting all of the attention and getting more confusing. Authenticity has jumped on the brandwagon, and now we hear the phrase “brand authenticity.”

What does it mean and how do you get it for your brand, and why do I really want it?

Well, before we can answer those questions we need to understand the definition of a brand.

Most businesses think that the brand, is the logo, the color, the font, your website, all of those creative assets. And they’re correct, partially.

A brand is also the experience your employees, customers, investors, followers, have with your company.

Great customer service experience, that’s the brand.

Got a great price and a product that works and does that you want it to do? That’s the brand.

The experience anyone has at any touchpoint.

It could be your accounting department, customer service, at an event, website visit, social media interaction.

The list goes on and on.

Now, let’s make it more confusing and add authenticity to brand.

All right, well what’s authenticity? A lot of us use the word “real” in its place. Is that a real Prada bag or a fake? Does that customer service rep. really want to help me or are they being fake?

You know the difference.

Back in the Mad Men days, companies conferred realness, or authenticity, to a product by trademarking it, or using some type of legal force and, wait for it, branding.

Fast forward to today and guess what? Where does your brand live?

In the mind of your consumer, exactly where authenticity is living.

Why does all of this matter?

Well, it matters because consumers want it, because their brand choices are an extension of their desired self. The decreased failures between space and increased globalization help us connect to people, time, place, and culture.

When brands help us achieve those connections they become authentic, real, and we become ever-loyal to the brand.

One other thought about authenticity. It’s an actual, unforced, unstaged, and free from self-interest, and commercial considerations. It’s one of those big reasons why many of us really don’t like corporate America.

All right, so what happens when you achieve brand authenticity?

The results will be incredible loyalty, word-of-mouth support, formation of brand community, tolerance for failures, and support in tough times.

Brand authenticity is a better predictor of purchase intentions, more so than brand love, trust, and credibility.

Let’s assume you’re in charge of a brand or you’re starting your own business. How do you achieve brand authenticity?

Well, you’re in luck.

I have six brand strategies for building brand authenticity that I’m going to share with you, just for listening to me go on and on.

There are six ways in which you, yes you the listener, can reinforce consumer perceptions of authenticity.

Before I start, I will tell you that saying your brand is authentic is never the answer. In fact, it’s going to have the opposite affect. You’ll just be a brand poser. It’s the same as saying, “Trust me. You won’t forget about it. Trust me.”

All right, here we go.

Strategy #1: Become Part of the Community

When brands become part of the community, purchasing them becomes an act of loyalty and identity.

The loyalty shown to local brands is driven by the belief that these brands are in the community for the long term.

Let me give you an example. I’m in Austin, Texas. There’s an orthodontist here in town that fits the entire high school football team of a designated school with free mouth guards.

Isn’t that awesome?

It makes sense. He’s got to protect their teeth, especially since you’re in high school playing football.

Chances are you’re probably wearing braces, or you just got out of them. He’s been doing this for a decade. He is part of that community and I assure you that every parent, new parent, or older parent, that has a child that needs braces, or a friend that needs a referral, this firm is getting that referral.

Authentic brands stand up for the community, whereas other brands will seek to exploit those subcultures when market conditions are right, or when it’s safe to do so.

Strategy #2: Challenge Conventions

Being authentic has long been associated with going against convention. Pretty much you reject the rational order of the day.

Think about your teenagers. A better example, Apple. Their Think Different campaign. Their stores feature images of Gandhi, John Lennon, Martin Luther King, all icons who rejected the rational order of the day.

James Dyson actually got really angry about the fact that basic technology behind vacuum cleaners had not changed since the first vacuum cleaner was invented. He went out and decided to make it better.

As a result, you really don’t hear people say, “Hey, I’m going to go Hoover my carpet.” Authentic brands embody the contrarian spirit of great artists, the rebellious self that we all have.

By the way, they do not accept trade-offs. Example: Apple, do they choose between performance and design?

Never. You get them both.

Strategy #3: Stick to Your Roots

Marketing theory suggests the need to conform to customer needs.

Some brands reject new trends, new technologies, new ways of doing things, in favor of sticking to their roots.

The folks behind authentic brands stick to their roots because they believe they are right.

Steve Jobs anyone?

The history behind a brand is critical to its authenticity. Heritage, sincerity, and love of production are central to a consumer’s judgment of authenticity.

Mess with the brand roots, and customers will abandon ship fast.

Strategy #4: Love Your Craft

Do you remember the book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand?

The two characters in the book were Howard and Peter.

Remember how Howard loved what he did, and he did it whether or not he got paid, just because he loved it?

Whereas, Peter, he was an okay architect, and then he was really out for the fame, the fortune.

Well, a pivotal quote in the book is the character Howard tells Peter that, “To achieve true happiness in work, one must love the doing, rather than fame and wealth.”

The people behind authentic brands embody this very spirit.

Authentic brands are staffed with people passionate for the product or service, and they are run by leaders heavily involved in all aspects of production.

Strategy #5: Business and Maturism

Marketers are a clever and professional group of people.

They are out there to destroy the competition for their companies or their clients.

In contrast, authentic brands tend to be run by amateurs that reject customer research and marketing in favor of gut feel, intuition, and craft techniques.

Why?

Well, first they are unpaid. Second, they think differently due to their lack of training. Third, they’re not bothered with concerns of fame, paying bills, and meeting next quarter’s targets.

Now, although a brand may seem amateurish, don’t confuse it with stupidity.

Many of the managers of these brands as MBAs and are very interested in commercial success.

Behind closed doors, they’re running highly effective organizations.

Strategy #6: We Ignore Customers

Authentic brands openly reject the slavish worship of customers and treat conventional marketing tools such as segmentation, targeting, and positioning, with a degree of contempt.

The team behind authentic brands are totally immersed in their markets and are avid collectors of general information.

Now, marketing immersion is not market driven.

There is a difference.

Market immersion is key team members being active in the marketplace as a way of sourcing valuable insight and trends.

Why are such activities vital?

There’s three reasons.

First, immersion provides marketers of authentic brands with a key source of new performance standards and stylistic trends.

Secondly, if this information can be filtered into product styling or brand marketing to insure that ongoing relevance without diluting the brand.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the information enables designers or other product developers to swear that their products are derived from personal inspiration or the indefinable creative spirit, rather than formal market research.

Listeners, we’ve covered six brand authenticity strategies to reinforce your customers’ perceptions of your authentic brand.

Which one will you move forward with?

On the next solocast I will share five tactics for brand managers who are tasked with building an authentic brand.

Until next time System Execution fans, no matter how many notes you took, or how often you re-listen to this episode, the key is you must know that every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome.

Thank you so much listeners for your support and your listenership.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution on brand authenticity enlightening. For free examples, case studies, ebooks, and more, be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com.

Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.

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