A regular woman is asked to describe her appearance in detail. A curtain separates her from a man with a drafting board who meticulously begins to sketch her features from her oral description alone. She leaves. A new person enters the room and is asked to describe that same woman and the man then sketches a second portrait. The woman is then shown both sketches side by side and realises that her perception of herself is more negative than it should be.
This is the premise of the iconic Dove Real Beauty Sketches, a brand campaign that has now been viewed around 180 million times. Dove started a movement for diverse and real beauty in 2004 and as a result sales jumped from $2.5 to $4 billion in the campaign’s first ten years. This just one powerful example of how a well executed content campaign can have staggering effects on how people perceive a brand. Dove swiftly transformed itself from a somewhat stagnant brand to being seen as a global champion of women, challenging and disrupting damaging beauty standards.
Why authentic content marketing is critical for brands
Content marketing is a proven strategy for building brand identity, generating leads and engaging new and existing customers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of content marketing has skyrocketed with people spending more time online consuming content than ever before. The ‘Digital in 2020’ report shows that 3.96 billion people use social media today, accounting for more than half of the entire global population. In a time where physical touchpoints have become strained or non-existent, content marketing has become a critical place where brands can truly connect with consumers and build trust.
90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. In the Internet age, consumers have developed a discerning eye and will quickly identify misleading marketing strategies like greenwashing or false advertising. Beyond that, studies suggest that 78% of consumers will actively take action in response to a brand doing something they disagree with, from no longer buying from that brand, switching to a competitor, or dissuading others from purchasing or supporting that brand.
Here are 3 ways your brand can create more authentic content and build trust with consumers:
1. Build trust with transparency
A key component of being authentic is presenting something truthfully and honestly. Therefore, in order to build trust with consumers brands need to do what they say and actively fulfil the promises that they make. Obviously, a huge part of that is representing products and services accurately and delivering consistent quality, but authenticity also extends to brand communication and content marketing. Beyond just communicating truthfully brands need to follow up with real action.
A good example is tea brand T2 who started in Melbourne in 1996 and has now been bought by Unilever and expanded with stores across Australia and the globe. T2 has made a concerted effort to become a conscious brand and to truly integrate sustainable and ethical practices in every aspect of the business. The brand even took this mission to the next level by becoming a certified B Corp.
T2 embraces transparency by publishing sustainability reports and also having clear policies around sustainable sourcing. T2 has also demonstrated transparency by honestly communicating its values and purpose and sharing content, resources and updates on its journey. This transparency is also regularly integrated into T2’s content marketing and social media updates. This authenticity has led the brand to having a cult like following of dedicated tea drinkers around the world.
2. Partner with Brand Advocates
Advocacy marketing is an effective way for brands to create campaigns and start conversations online among highly engaged communities that share common values and interests. Partnerships between brands and advocates are highly effective because the content is crafted by regular people who have built organic followings, rather than publishers with vested commercial interests. Social content is therefore perceived as being more authentic and relevant to the wider community.
According to McKinsey social commerce is on the rise with 34% of consumers saying that they have shopped on Instagram based on an ambassador recommendation.
Recently Roy Morgan’s 2020 Risk Report named Bunnings as Australia’s most trusted brand. While rapid innovation and quality service is a large part of the equation, Bunnings also often features real workers in videos offering practical advice that everyday people can apply to their DIY projects.
Another brand that utilises brand advocates is natural skincare company Frank Body who has a strategy of working with micro and macro ambassadors to share products, reviews and effectively uses hashtags to build an authentic online following. Frank Body now has an engaged community of 750 thousand on Instagram and it regularly shares user-generated content and brand advocacy in the form of product reviews.
3. Understand the fundamentals of storytelling
A key to creating truly authentic content for brands is to truly understand the fundamentals of storytelling. Storytelling goes beyond just selling to consumers; it engages them on an emotional level and elicits a particular response by using humour, relatable characters, interesting scenarios and other storytelling techniques. Forbes has reported storytelling is the future of marketing because it creates cohesive narratives that evoke genuine emotions from audiences.
An example of brand that understands storytelling is Air New Zealand who regularly uses video marketing to capture the attention of consumers. Jodi Williams, GM of global brand and marketing for Air New Zealand says: “As some travellers may not be as familiar with us we focus on telling our brand story and highlighting our uniquely kiwi personality.”
Closer to home Qantas recently launched its first marketing campaign for interstate travel which embraced nostalgia to tug on consumers heart strings. The social media campaign features young choir singers in isolation singing its iconic ‘I still call Australia home’ anthem, among grand shots of the Australian outback, reminding customers that they can still experience the beauty and wonder of travel.
Content marketing is a crucial way for brands to show who they are and connect with the public. Effective content can build brand voice and cut-through consumer fatigue in a crowded marketplace. The reality is that modern consumers want to find meaning and purpose in brand interactions and authentic content marketing is key to driving trust and value.