Why “Be Authentic” Is Bad Branding Advice

Why “Be Authentic” Is Bad Branding Advice

Branding Tips for Business - Tricycle Creative

TRIPOD is a Marketing podcast produced by Tricycle Creative that aims to helps entrepreneurs be better Marketers. Each episode features news, tips, interviews, and commentary from the worlds of Marketing, Media, and Miscellaneous. 


Unicycle Sessions are one topic discussions that are part of TRIPOD, the Tricycle Creative Marketing Podcast. This series will feature business owners, creatives, and entrepreneurs discussing a single topic from the worlds of Marketing, Branding, Social Media, Management, Content, or Business.

If authenticity is the goal, why is “be authentic” such bad advice? In our inaugural Unicycle Session, we’re talking about brand authenticity with our guest, Kayla Naab.

In this episode, we put our *spin* on the rise of demand for authenticity in marketing campaigns, ads, and business communications. In a world where 84% of consumers want more authenticity from brands, how can we heed the advice to “be authentic” in business? Here’s the top 5 highlights:

1. Know thyself

Kayla’s chief reason for why “be authentic” isn’t great advice is that most brands don’t know themselves. Exploring the *who* of your brand and personifying your brand’s edicts, values, and tone of voice will help you measure whether a piece of content is, in fact, “authentic” to you.

2. Strive beyond “conversational”

We discuss the previously dominant wisdom of “be conversational” and how things have evolved from that. For brands in more complex or stoic industries where things stay buttoned-up, conversational is a good starting place. However, “conversational” can spiral into “too casual” or even “vulgar,” and it isn’t authentic for everyone. More conversational copy does not automatically make you more authentic.

3. Is “honesty” a scalable version of authenticity?

Kayla and Ross explore the difference between honesty an authenticity. While critiquing your industry or affording your customers some transparency is healthy, we acknowledge the risks and arrive at a Venn diagram between honesty and authenticity. But there’s more to authentic than honest – many companies that claim to be “blunt” or “disruptive” in an industry are actually being inauthentic. What if the authentic you is not an honest person?

4. Read the room

Ross tells listeners about his “work person” character. We discuss how work can feel like acting. In fact, we are all different versions of ourselves with friends, with our parents, with our kids, at work… Being your authentic self may look different depending on the circumstances and conditions. Your brand’s authentic self might look a little different depending on the social platform or channel you’re using.

5. It’s not static.

Your business isn’t static – you’re actually a collection of different personality types, clients, customers, facets of product and service, etc. These things also change and evolve and that’s okay. Staying authentic might mean accepting change.

Better advice than “be authentic”
When you’re trying to achieve business authenticity, the first step is to know what you’re trying to achieve in a business instance. Goals can inform which “version” of yourself should be purveyed.

Connect with Kayla!

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