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Building your brand through authentic communication

In a world of fake news and fake people, it is not surprising that we’ve become ever more suspicious and cynical.

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2017-11-07 | BY Ilse Blank

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authentic

adjective: of undisputed origin and not a copy or false; genuine

 

In a world of fake news and fake people, it is not surprising that we’ve become ever more suspicious and cynical. It’s tough to know what’s real and what to believe. And if you’re running or owning a business, it’s even harder to know how to position what you have to say in a way that is receptive to your customers and your stakeholders. Knowing what to say – or not to say - and when to say it, is more than a gut-feel exercise.

As a communications advisor to clients in my own business, I find myself wondering if companies have become too afraid to own their figurative space. We seem to be paralysed in positions of inaction while we wait and see how things play out. Increasing uncertainty and fear of offending has seen many brands pull back to the point of becoming fence-sitters and, what I believe to be overly-cautious. We find ourselves in a no-man’s land where we say nothing and do nothing, and the silence is deafening. And potentially damaging to your brand.

I believe it is particularly in times of uncertainty and volatility that the opportunity exists to position your brand through authentic communication. This is both on a personal and corporate brand level.

What is authentic communication? Well for one, it’s not likeability. Authentic communication doesn’t aim to please. It aims to be true to self. In the corporate sense, the message needs to be true to the brand values of the company, as well as its purpose, and in the personal sense, it needs to be “real”. It needs to be “you”.

If you are interested in adopting an authentic communication approach, consider the following guidelines as you communicate – for yourself or your company, and across any channel, particularly in the way you speak and conduct yourself:

• What matters to me / the company and why?

• What is my / the company’s position on this matter?

• Is the message based on facts or falsehoods?

• Has my / the company’s positioned changed, and can the change of opinion be explained credibly?

• Is the message recognisable as coming from me / the company?

• Is the message respectful or offensive?

• Does it speak to my values and/or the company’s brand values?

• If actions speak louder than words, what am I / the company going to do as a result of the communication?

Whether we like them or not, we respect those who own their actions – right or wrong – and stand their ground. We all hate being treated like idiots by brands and brand ambassadors / spokespeople who believe their spin is believable and that it is our duty to lap up their drivel and excuses without asking questions.

Authentic brands are memorable, believable and based on integrity. They are built from the inside out, where honest and open communication with employees and customers engenders respect, and even appreciation. There is consistency and recognition, like the sound of a familiar voice, no matter the channel of delivering the message. And particularly in times of difficulty, authentic communication will stand any test because it has remained true to itself. And that’s what will matter to your audience.

Reputation management, Digital Communication, Voice, Authentic, Integrity

Our key take-aways:

  • Authentic communication is consistent and real
  • Don’t add to the noise – be clear on what you stand for and why
  • Actions speak louder than words

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