THE QUEST FOR AUTHENTICITY: In Brands, In Ourselves

January 7, 2015 | Comments (0) | | Category: Commercial Marketing with Video

THE QUEST FOR AUTHENTICITY:  In Brands, In Ourselves

Last Sunday, I read an article in the New York Times about Authenticity in Brands:  how consumers crave it and why they will pay more to get it.  It got me thinking about the WHY behind that phenomenon.  Sure, there is pride that comes with buying the dog collar that was made in an old New England rope factory vs. a dog collar that came off a container from China, made from the cheapest goods possible.  But what is Authenticity, whether real or perceived, all about?  And what is it really adding to our lives?

“Authenticity is a fuzzy concept,” says Julie Napoli of Curtin University.  But Napoli and her colleagues agree that it boils down to three 3 factors:  heritage, sincerity, and commitment to quality The same factors that we as human beings crave for our own personas, no?  “If you look at [qualities like] honesty, originality and integrity, you would like to have all those things as an individual,” says Francesca Albert, research director at UK agency Firefish.  Research suggests that brands should make a concerted effort to emulate these human traits to become truly authentic, rather than just claiming it.

The origins of the authenticity craze are easy to see:  Scandals from the past several decades range from the Catholic church to the federal government (Watergate).  Since then, it’s been a steady stream of institutions and politicians talking the talk – even advertising it – but not walking the walk.  Ironically, and not surprisingly, Corporate America’s desire for the “authentic” Authenticity label has led to some smoke-and-mirrors tactics:  Take the case detailed in the above-referenced New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/business/quenching-consumers-thirst-for-authentic-brands.html?_r=0) whereby clothing company J. Crew 10 years ago secured the name and logo of Madewell, originally an American workwear company.  Today, much of the Madewell clothing is made overseas, and the Madewell founder’s great-grandson is left scratching his head.

Authenticity:  Being the Original

Despite all the reasons why we as a society are hungrily in search of Authenticity, it appears to be a coveted attribute that is here to stay.  What brand/person/etc. do you know who ISN’T chasing the Authenticity label?

As a small business owner who trades in the art of creative, I tell my own story of Authenticity through longevity.. the “heritage” part of the experts’ assessment.  (No, I don’t come from a long line of promotional filmmakers. That’s just stupid:)  Rather, I tell the story of being a low-paid business writer in 1988 who by default (and thanks to a “Secret” security clearance I acquired during a college internship) found myself producing marketing videos for the federal government.  Making videos, hearing and seeing my prose in 3D, rather than just reading it on paper:  it became like a drug, and I soon found myself evangelizing CORPORATE VIDEOS.  (To be honest and Authentic, video work also paid better than print journalism back then, because nobody was really doing it yet.)

There I was in the late 80s, calling on businesses, non-profits, and government agencies around Washington D.C, with my small TV/VCR in tow, touting business video as The Next Big Thing.  Today, the idea that I had to explain to organizations HOW and WHY they would EVER use a video seems funny.  But somehow, I like to think — and convey to others — that because I was one of the first, I’m one of the best.  (And if you’re doing the math, I was just 10 years old when I started in the biz :))

Authenticity that comes for our Geographical Roots

Authenticity also stems from the concept of Place.  “Heritage comes through loud and clear when a company puts down roots and stays there,” say Yale professors George Newman and Ravi Dhar in the New York Times article.  Consumers value brands and products that come from the company’s original factory. So.. in the spirit of authenticity and honesty, I transition now to my own Shameless Plug and share a few video stories we’ve recently told in the Spirit of Authenticity.

1.  Winner of the “Grown from the Soil of a Unique Geographic Region” award.  And one of my all-time favorite clients:  Rodney Strong Vineyards “Place Matters”:

http://robinbondmedia.com/video/brand-position-statement-video-for-rodney-strong-vineyards-sonoma-ca/

2.  Winner of the “Putting down Roots and Staying There” award:  St. Joseph’s “History. In the Making” for 140 years of service in Denver:

http://robinbondmedia.com/video/celebration-video-st-joseph-hospital/

3.  Winner of the “Growing Up in the Family Business” award:  Haselden Construction:

http://robinbondmedia.com/video/video-for-haselden-construction/

 

Authenticity:  The Bottom Line 

Forbes Magazine, my go-to publication for “authenticity” in business news, steals a centuries-old quote from the Original Master of Storytelling, Bill Shakespeare:  “This above all: to thine own self be true.”   

What’s your story?  What’s your reason for doing what you do as an organization?  If you’re going to slap the words Artisanal, Traditional, or Authentic on your product/brand/resume, you need a story to back it up.  Call Robin Bond Media and we’ll help you do just that with an Authentic Video:  http://robinbondmedia.com/contact/

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Good story. Well told.
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