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How To Be Authentic In Digital Marketing

How To Be Authentic In Digital Marketing

How To Be Authentic In Digital Marketing

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People looking to be more authentic are often told “to thine own self be true.” But Shakespeare’s famous advice isn’t always easy to understand, let alone follow – and especially not for brands. Marketing campaigns aren’t people, they’re ideas, created and supported by large groups of people. How can a concept like that be ‘authentic?’

Thoughtfully, that’s how! We know marketing campaigns can be authentic: we’ve all seen a few, and we know them when we see them. Authenticity, that feeling that a message is honest, from a real place, with no trickery or hidden motives, is not easy to cultivate. But it’s not impossible either. We’ve assembled a few guidelines to help make your brand seem less like a corporate monolith and more like an approachable and amiable acquaintance.

Give Your Brand A Personality

Authenticity is an aspect of identity. Without an identity, without a history, without a style, nothing can be authentic. And the most direct way to establish an identity is to have a distinct personality. For a brand, this means establishing a predictable and reliable way of speaking, thinking, looking, and acting. One way of achieving this is by adding voiceover to your videos. Consider how your scripts are written and look for a voice actor with the tone of your message. Think about ways to infuse a personality in your online resources too. Try incorporating a little lighthearted humour into your next tool rather than providing only the traditional experience, or take it one step further by turning it into a game. Always keep your end goal in mind and make sure that your brand’s personality remains consistent.

Social media is another great channel to showcase your brand’s personality. Engaging short videos and animated pieces are extremely sharable and get people talking. So are well-written articles and well-designed infographics. Every piece of your brand that your customers experience – from visuals, to written content, to customer service – should be consistent across all your channels. Real people have a consistent tone, so they can immediately tell when marketing feels natural. If you can create a stable personality for your brand, it will be seen as less of a collection of projects, and more as an actual persona.


Be Human, Be Real

If you’re going for authenticity, you have to think about what your brand is genuinely about at its core. If you’re selling high-end goods or luxury products, you might want to be a little more polished and formal, but for most brands, the ideal is to present yourself as a real, relatable human trying to make the world a better place. One of the defining features of real humans is that they speak like, well, real humans – they joke, they chat, and they don’t usually issue broad corporate statements. Thanks to social media, branded content now appears in the same context as messages from friends. In this fortuitous context, the more you can blend in with personal conversations, the more personable you’ll be, and the more your words will be taken as genuine.

An interesting thing about authenticity is that, like people, it isn’t always perfect. When choosing stock photography, lean away from unnaturally posed shots and go for more relatable and candid options – real people usually aren’t perfectly-lit models. When explaining a complex topic, add helpful tips or frequently asked questions and make sure to be transparent. “We understand you may not get it, so we’re here to help” is a message appreciated by many. Being open, natural, and honest are deeply likable human characteristics, and those that any brand would do well to adopt.

Avoid Stereotypes

Consider the cliché image: a healthy, go-getting senior enjoying their retirement by playing golf and tennis now that they have the time. It’s a lovely idea, and while absolutely true for some, for the vast majority, it’s just that – an idea. If a friend told you about a new investment plan that would help you retire early and go parasailing, you’d probably chuckle at them. Because really, where did they get the idea that that was on your radar? It’s not authentically you, and anyone who would think that is clearly selling you something, not speaking to your best interests.

How do you make sure that what your brand’s offering appeals to the masses and remains authentic? It’s quite simple, really: provide a way for your users to customize and tailor the content they see to what best suits them. Ask them questions, let them choose between options, sort, filter, etc. A personalized experience will make your users feel like you are really listening to them and taking their wants and needs into consideration, instead of just placing them in a box with everyone else.

Talk With People, Not At People

Once upon a time, marketing meant renting ad spots and issuing statements to thousands – perhaps millions! – of people in a one-way flow of information. But today, the interactive nature of the web and the growing importance of digital marketing have turned that one-way street into a two-way dialogue. If you want to be authentic and care about serving your customers, then start talking to them online. You can answer their questions and pre-empt their complaints, but also have fun with them, just like a friend. Social media gives you an opportunity to read your customers’ comments and hear their feedback, and if you can’t remedy their situation, you’re in the perfect place to apologize with tact and humility.

Best of all, this proactive customer service can be seen by anyone, whether they’re your customers or not. Good customer service has always been its own form of marketing, and now, word of mouth is preserved for all to see online. Providing solid, caring service finally has the visibility of other traditional marketing methods, and honest dealers can now have their moment in the spotlight.


Authenticity isn’t something you can fake. You can’t just appear authentic: you must take stock of what your brand really is and embrace it. What is its main message? How is it different from the rest? How can it remain consistent no matter where it goes? Developing authenticity in your marketing, really, is discovering your strengths and weaknesses, admitting to them, and working to change for the better. This may sound disappointing if you’re looking for a quick fix. But if you’re looking to do the right thing – the human thing – you’ll be looking in the right place.

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