Ground Your Brand
Clorox has it's own brand missions, but they are careful to make sure those grow organically from its brand. For example, Clorox has taken up eradication of germs and bacteria as a mission. To support that, Clorox sent bleach to West Africa to helps prevent spread of the disease.
“What I love about Clorox," said Murray, "is they provide the bleach to help fight Ebola. That’s something that makes sense to a normal person.”
To ground your brand, figure out what makes that kind of common sense for your brand to do.
Ear to the Ground
Understanding what makes your brand authentic isn't just an internal exercise. You need to understand what your target market expects you to be as well.
“The central verb for me in the marketing strategy is just listen," said Grove. "What technology has given us that we’ve never had before is to be able to listen to our audiences and hear where the white space is.”
But authenticity isn't just listening quietly, or waiting for your chance to interject into the white space. It about engaging target customers in a conversation they want to have.
“The reality is that we’ve gone from cathedral to marketplace" says Grove. "There is no more room for that top-down communications, you have to have that two-way dialog.” In that dialog, you have to have context. Understand the difference between starting a conversation you want to have, and a conversation you both want to have.
“We’re all humans" says Grove. "We don’t want to be marketed to. We want to be connected with in ways that are relevant and have context.”
Nowhere is this more evident than when a brand makes a mistake and starts to be roasted on social media. But brands that are authentic tend to get out of those situations more quickly and with less damage.
“As companies and as brands, we’re really more acting like humans than we’ve ever been," said Deering. "And humans make mistakes, and companies and brands are going to make mistakes. ... Consumers are forgiving if the response and the reaction are handled appropriately."
“We’re all humans," said Grove. "We don’t want to be marketed to. We want to be connected with in ways that are relevant and have context.”
If your brand values, missions and communications are coming from a focus group instead of your actual focus, it's time to take a fresh look at what your truth is from both your own internal point of view and that of your customers.
What should you stand for, if you're being honest? How does that match up to what you hear from your customers?
If you don't know, it's time to get your brand's head out of the clouds and feet back on the ground.