Branding in a Post-Digital World – Authenticity


Having a point of view is vital. Human brands shouldn’t be neutral – they should inspire people through their opinions. Being authentic means having a believable and original point of view on a category, or life in general.

It’s also about mixing it up a bit. Joe Stitzlein, from Google’s Brand Studio, says:

“It’s our job to establish a pattern that our audience can recognise. It’s our duty to break it up once in a while.”

Can you own a point of view?

Coca-Cola’s brand proposition is ‘happiness’. Their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was a fantastic idea that turned people into media, and gave them a platform to spread Coke’s message as well as their own. It shows that if you give people the tools and provide enough meaning for them to own it, they will quite happily be the media. And even though it’s a few years old, Share a Coke still gets about 50,000 social mentions a day.

Coca-Cola also do a great job of mixing user-generated with their own content on their ‘Happiness’ Tumblr. Here they blur the lines between the brand owners and brand believers.

So they’re doing everything right in terms of sharing their brand, owning and supporting the idea of happiness. But, there’s a nasty taste somewhere, isn’t there? Because in the back of our minds we all remember an anecdote about Coke making people less than happy – so I wonder if we know a bit too much about the company to take their wide-eyed ‘happiness’ at face value.

Play with your category

Sticking with food & drink, if being authentic is about having an inspiring opinion on a category, then Lurpak has been on its game recently, with their brand campaigns by Weiden & Kennedy. There’s a classic sense of craft to these: great photography, sharp copywriting, really inspiring ads. There feels like a genuine insight into real life here, in the language – the celebration of imperfection.

There’s nothing wildly out-there about what Lurpak are doing, they just maintain their social channels well and make decent content. They built a friendly, competitive community around their ‘Bake Club’, and recently ran ‘Freestyle Food Month‘ – again making people the stars and providing the tools to do it.

So it’s this human connection, an attachment to the real world, that makes it all work for me. The power of being authentic is when you feel you own a category, you can be playful with it, and that keeps you in people’s minds. In the final post we’ll explore why that’s so vital.